Based on an under-resourced urban community school case study in Zambia,1 this
article explores how access to education can be extended and how efficient teaching
and learning can effectively bridge the educational and economic imbalances at
school level. The school’s responses to economic inequality are investigated through
an open system approach. The study discovered that as a result of inadequate
funding the school has exemplified its efficacy by attempting to fulfil its maximum
educational potential at the lowest possible cost. Costs were lowered by using
multiple-grade classes, crowding classrooms, and employing untrained teachers.
The study also found that the school’s budget had an impact on teaching and
learning. The Zambian Government’s promised commitment to education of the poor
and the realities in community schools did not coincide. The Government's promised
support for teacher professional development and the placement of mentor teachers
in community schools was also not implemented. The paper concludes that while the
school managed to extend education at a lower cost, the quality of teaching and
learning was, and remains, questionable and this has implications for school
continuity and the value of the education being provided.