ZAMBIAN pupils have been ranked the worst in Mathematics and reading skills in Southern and Eastern Africa.

According to a study conducted by the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SACMEQ) aimed at testing mathematics and reading achievements in 15 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, Zambia was ranked as the worst with a decline in its performance alongside Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho and Uganda with difficulties in mathematics.

The country was also ranked the worst in reading skills alongside Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique and Uganda.

Meanwhile, Mauritius was ranked first at 623.3, seconded by Kenya at 557.0 in Mathematics while Zambia scored 435.2.

The area of reading was topped by Tanzania at 577.8, Seychelles 575.1, Mauritius 573.5, Swaziland 549.4, Kenya 543.1 and Zambia at 434.4 which is a slight decrease from its 440.1 showing that Zambia is not doing well compared to other countries.

The study drawn from a sample of about 5,000 primary school pupils from close to 200 schools in the region saw pupils being taken through basic mathematics and reading tasks.

Ministries of Education in each country carried out the survey on behalf of the consortium.

And Dr Demus Makuwa acting director for the consortium said: "The quality of education in the 15 countries is still poor despite its cross-regional approaches that the governments have taken to improve standards."

The consortium is a network of ministries of education whose aim is to promote education for all goals and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The founding members of SACMEQ are the Ministries of Education in Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Zambia, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile efforts to get a comment on the ranking from the ministry of education proved futile as the report was still being drafted at the ministry for public dissemination.

The report is however expected to be disseminated at a workshop in the second week of January 2011.