Nature and Prevalence of reading difficulties among school-dropouts : A case of selected school areas in Chipata District
MetadataShow full item record
The aim of the study was to explore the nature and prevalence of reading difficulties among school dropouts (experimental) in comparison to in-school (control) children. Many studies to determine the nature and prevalence of reading difficulties among in school participants have been carried out, but none among school dropouts. This is despite the fact that large numbers of children dropout of school every year. A sample of 98 participants drawn from 4 school areas in Chipata district took part in the study. There were two urban and two rural school areas. An experimental group of sixty(60) school dropouts and a control group of 38 in-school children constituted the study sample. The two samples were matched by age, gender, grade level and school area.Reading assessment tests comprising Zambia Achievement Test's reading recognition,pseudoword decoding and reading comprehension subtests were administered by trained assessors to all participants, together with a nonverbal intelligence test, the K-ABC Pattern Reasoning, in their respective school areas.Data analysis was achieved by comparing mean differences of two groups, using a series of one-way ANOVAs and Chi-Square of differences on each of the three reading subtests. Descriptive statistics revealed that in-school participants outperformed school dropouts on all ZAT reading subtests. Data analyses were done using the SPSS and webbased chi-square analysis. The mean score differences between the two group means were all statistically significant on all subtests, with in-school outperforming school dropouts. Generally, school area location had significant main effects on reading performance as urban participants had higher mean scores than rural participants. Similarly, female participants performed poorly compared to their male counterparts. As suspected, rural in-school participants performed better than the rural out of school.The prevalence of reading difficulties was significantly higher among school dropouts than among the in-school children. On subtest basis, prevalence of reading difficulties was high among school dropouts than among in-school participants. The differences in the proportions of children scoring above or below 15% reading threshold on the reading recognition in the two groups did not show statistical significance. But the proportional differences on the Pseudo-words decoding and Reading Comprehension subtests were statistically significant. The nature of reading difficulties in the three reading disability implicated core domains revealed that the reading difficulties were more severe among experimental than among the control sample. Similarly, the levels of prevalence of reading difficulties were also significantly higher among the experimental group compared to the control group. These results corroborate findings of several other studies which report that reading performance in Zambian schools is generally poor (Sharma, 1973; Chikalanga, 1990;Matafwali, 2005). However, school dropouts exhibited significantly more reading difficulties in comparison to in-school children. The severity of RD and huge proportions observed among school dropouts in comparison with in-school participants revealed by this study raises a question of whether reading difficulties are as a result of inherent reading weaknesses or other factors like lack of teaching/learning and/or lack of adequately qualified teachers. These findings reinforce Stanovich's (1986) earlier observation that a child who starts reading training poorly is more likely to experience significant reading difficulties in later years, than one who starts off well. A phenomenon he termed "the Matthew Effect." This is because good reading beginners enjoy reading, thereby acquiring more skills in both reading and other academic domains, while poor beginners lag behind because their poor reading skills lead to the development of poor reading habits. Repeated reading failure may inevitably lead children with reading difficulties to dropout of school.
- Education