- There are 4 million orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) in Zambia (UNICEF, 2012).
- If there is no intervention, school-age OVCs risk increased rates of abuse and exploitation, increased drop-out rates, increases risk to become infected with HIV, increases risk for risky sexual behavior, increased risk for malnutrition, limited access to education, and health care (PEPFAR, 2012; PEPFAR, 2016). These factors represent both a cause and an outcome of extreme poverty (Vitora, 2008).
- OVCs suffer from poor basic education because of poverty and access (Mumba, 2000).
- Public infrastructure lags behind in the needed number of government schools to serve the population (UNICEF, 2009).
- Of the children that start school in Zambia, only 53% continue to be enrolled at the end of primary school (grade seven) (McCoy, Suilkowski, Fink, 2015).
- As few as 1% of these children have registered births, which compounds the barriers to enrollment and impedes an accurate representation of current enrollment. Without birth registration, OVCs may not be accurately counted, assessed or represented. Without a birth certificate they are not permitted to enroll in school and they are ineligible to receive child support grants (UNICEF, 2016).
- OVCs experience negative outcomes at higher rates than do their peers, and are more often growth-stunted (low height for age) which impacts learning capacity and later in life, earning capacity (Coneus and Muhlenweg, 2011; The World Bank, 2005).
- Many causes of exclusion from school OVCs are left out of education and essential school-based services including nutrition and health interventions, safe water, sanitation and hygiene resources (Coneus and Muhleweg, 2011).
“OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) are groups of children that experience negative outcomes, such as the loss of their education, morbidity, and malnutrition, at higher rates than do their peers. To be protected from negative outcomes and / or allowed participation, OVC need to be given special attention to remove the barriers that stand in the way of their equal participation in projects designed to benefit all children, or through special project components and targeting strategies tailored to their needs.” (The World Bank, 2005)