An investigation into causes and effects of learner absenteeism in selected primary schools in Kalabo district, Zambia
Makumbu, Makumbu Sandala
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This study sought to investigate causes and effects of learner absenteeism in selected primary schools in Kalabo district of Zambia. The objectives of the study were to establish factors that led to learner absenteeism; identify the effects of learner absenteeism; establish challenges faced by school authorities in enforcing learner class attendance and explore measures aimed at mitigating learner absenteeism. A descriptive survey research design was adopted. Interview guides and focus group discussions were used to collect data from the respondents. A sample of 52 respondents comprising 4 school administrators, 20 teachers, 20 pupils and 8 parents was purposively selected. The study revealed that learner absenteeism in primary schools in Kalabo district was caused by long distances to schools, high poverty levels, lack of parental support and guidance and participation in daily economic activities and traditional ceremonies by learners. The study further revealed that the effects of learner absenteeism included poor academic performance by learners and learners engaging in vices such as beer drinking and smoking. Unwanted pregnancies and early marriages were also a consequence of learner absenteeism. The study also indicated that challenges faced by school authorities in enforcing learner class attendance included failure by parents to attend Parents Teachers’ Association meetings to discuss the welfare of their children and issues affecting schools, parents’ lack of cooperation and conflict between teachers and parents. Respondents suggested measures aimed at mitigating learner absenteeism which included strengthening of guidance and counseling in schools, using community action groups to sensitise parents and their children on the importance of education. The study recommended that the Ministry of General Education should build more primary schools near communities to reduce distances covered by learners to access education; the government should increase coverage of the Social Cash Transfer Scheme in order to empower more poor and vulnerable families with funds and reduce poverty levels; and Ministry of General Education staff, school authorities and non-governmental organisations should undertake community sensitisation programmes and campaigns aimed at encouraging parents to send their children to school and, consequently, reduce learner absenteeism.
CitationCitation: Makumbu, M.M. & Changala, M. (2018). ‘An investigation into causes of learner absenteeism in selected primary schools in Kalabo district, Zambia.’ In M.N. Amutabi (Ed.) Dynamics of Education in Africa. Nairobi: Centre for Democracy, Research and Development (CEDRED), pp. 14 – 22.
Centre for Democracy, Research and Development (CEDRED), Nairobi, Kenya
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