The impact of pregnancy and child care resposibilities on academic performance among School going mothers in Lusaka District
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Education is a lifelong process that enables the continuous development of a person's capabilities as an individual and as a member of society. For a long time in the past,education was considered a preserve of the boy child by most families, because it was assumed that girls would get married. From the 1990" s it has been government policy to encourage the education of girls. In 1997, the Re-Entry Policy was introduced which allows girls who fall pregnant to continue school and go back to school after delivery.The Re-Entry Policy has since been implemented but what was yet to be seen was how far these children were coping with their dual role of being mother and pupil. This study, therefore, sought to examine the effects of this dual role on the school going-mothers' academic performance. The study was both comparative and descriptive and used both the qualitative and quantitative methods. The study was conducted in 16 schools in Lusaka District. The schools were drawn from two categories namely Basic and High schools. Eight schools were sampled from each category. Each school had a varying number of mothering pupils of which the equivalent were ordinary non-mothering randomly selected pupils.A total of 88 school girls participated from the two groups. There were also eight counsellors and 11 headteachers who participated in the study, bringing the total number of participants to 107.Questionnaires were administered to the 88 school girls. In addition, one in-depth interview was conducted with each of the pupils with babies or children. Furthermore,one in-depth interview was also conducted with the teachers who were the counsellors in those schools that provided the samples, and another in-depth interview conducted with headteachers of any of the schools visited by the researcher regardless of whether their schools provided a sample or not.The findings indicated that though the mothering school girls were happy that they were given a chance to go back to school, most of them were not coping with their dual role of being mother and school girl at the same time. Most of the pregnant or mothering school girls' performance was below average as they did not find enough time to do their schoolwork at home. This was more so because most of them had very young babies Branging in age from one month to a year. Because of this, the mothering school girls assumed full mothering responsibilities as soon as they went home. Also, three quarters of the pregnant or mothering school girls came from homes where their parents or Bguardians belonged to the low income bracket and as such could not afford to employ maids. The findings further revealed that very few mothering pupils were counselled on admission and in the months or years following re-admission. This was a serious oversight or neglect of duty by the counsellors in schools as the Re-Entry Guidelines clearly stipulate that all girls in such a situation should be counselled during and after pregnancy, and upon and several times after re-admission, to help them cope with their situation. The study also established that a good number of them were impregnated by school boys who were never penalized or punished for their actions.From the findings it was recommended that the guidelines be redistributed to the schools to help in the proper implementation of the policy, a better record keeping method on pregnant and re-entered pupils to be devised and for counsellors not to be given classes to teach in order for them to have adequate time for counselling sessions.