DFID has supported the provision of free primary education in Zambia since 2000 through two reform programmes; The Basic Education Sub-Sector Investment Programme (1999-2002) and the Education Sector Strategic Plan (2003-07). The Basic Education Sub Sector Investment Programme together with Zambia's Free Primary Education policy increased enrolment by 10 per cent. and halved the number of children out of school. These programmes were financed by a multi-donor education fund to which DFID contributed £22.1 million.
Between 2000 and 2006 net enrolment rates in primary grades increased from 71 to 97 per cent. while primary school completion rates improved from 63 to 85 per cent. The number of children out of school in Zambia fell from around 600,000 in 1998 to 67,000 in 2005.
From 1998-2005, DFID also funded a £10 million Primary Reading Programme which resulted in improvements of up to 500 per cent. in literacy performance in grades 1-3 in 2005 and overall improvements in the primary school completion exams at grade 7.