Managing learners' attendance in schools:a case study of selected primary schools along the shores in Mpulungu District of Lake Tanganyika
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Learner absenteeism is one of the major precursors to poor academic performance in rural primary schools. If learners miss school, they do not learn and ultimately they fail or drop-out. Notwithstanding, this problem does not receive the attention it deserves. The purpose of the study was to investigate factors associated with learners’ low attendance. Learners’ low attendance is the major factor to poor performance in rural primary schools. The study was conducted in Mpulungu District of Northern Province in Zambia. A qualitative study design was adopted. Interviews guide, focus group discussion, document review and observation were used as data gathering techniques focusing on three selected primary schools, with a high rate of learner absenteeism, along the shore of Lake Tanganyika in Mpulungu District. Participants were purposefully selected which involved head teachers, teachers, pupils and parents. The purpose of the study was to gain some insight into the management challenges faced by managers and teachers and the strategies they use to reduce learner low attendance in schools. The study evaluated factors associated with learner attendance in selected primary schools along the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Mpulungu District and determined the levels of learner attendance in these schools. It also established the perspectives of school administrators, teachers and pupils on learner attendance and ascertained strategies and policies that had been put in place to address the problem of learner attendance in selected primary schools along the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Mpulungu District. Factors that contribute to low learners’ attendance were identified and categorized as environmental factors and home factors. Generally, these factors mostly, included social-related factors such as the attitudes of family members of pupils towards school, the attitudes of individual pupils towards school and failure to adapt to the school and physical environment. This study therefore, concludes with recommendations that may help in improving learners’ low attendance in primary schools in order to improve teaching and learning in primary schools along the Lake shores.
The University of Zambia