|dc.description.abstract||This study sought to identify factors that contributed to poor life condition of female graduates with mental retardation from vocational training institutions in Zambia and measures that could address such factors. The study was carried out in five provinces (Lusaka, Central, Copperbelt, Luapula and Southern) of Zambia. The Integrated Support Model by Kregel and Welman (1988) provided a theoretical framework for the study. This model was chosen because it was found appropriate to provide guidance in conceptualising support to the graduates through linkages among vocational training institutions, work places and the communities.
The study used a descriptive research design. Qualitative and quantitative research methods were used. A total of one hundred and eleven (111) respondents participated in the study. Simple random sampling procedure was used to select the female graduates with mental retardation. Purposive sampling procedure was used to select the Provincial Employment Coordinators, the former and current directors from the Finnish Association on Mental Retardation, the former lecturers and parents of the graduates.
Questionnaires were used to collect data from the lecturers while semi-structured interview guides were used to collect data from the female graduates with mental
retardation, their parents, Employment Coordinators, the former and incumbent project directors. In addition, non participant observation technique was used to collect data from the female graduates with mental retardation.
Thematic analysis was used to analyse qualitative data while the quantitative data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) computer programme. Qualitative data were organised and presented in common themes while quantitative data were presented in pie charts.
The study found out that the following factors contributed to poor life condition of the female graduates: inadequate preparation for employment, lack of in-service training opportunities, job losses, unemployment and negative attitudes of the community, employers and parents, stigmatisation, sexual abuse, inability to pay for accommodation, lack of sex education and inability to access medical services.
In addition, the study identified several measures to address the factors that contributed to poor life condition of female graduates with mental retardation. The measures include: allowing graduates to participate in social and economic activities within their homes and communities, reviewing the curriculum in order to include a course that has demand from the labour market, entrepreneurial skills and communication skills. Other measures included: providing in-service
training opportunities, workshops and seminars. In addition, job coaching, creating employment, conducting sensitisation campaigns, encouraging social integration, conducting community meetings, providing housing loans and sex education were among the measures that could improve the life condition of the graduates.
On the basis of the study findings, the following were recommended:
1. Vocational training institutions should adequately prepare the female
graduates with mental retardation for employment.
2. In order to minimise the negative attitudes towards female graduates with
mental retardation, the government and non-governmental organisations
should continue conducting sensitisation campaigns.
3. Parents and community members should encourage female graduates
with mental retardation to participate in social and economic activities in
order to enhance their social integration.||en_US