Effect of 'safe' on improving girls' education in Zambia: A case study of Kabale Basic and Lwitikila girls' Secondary School of Mpika, 2002-2005
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The main purpose of the research was to assess the effect of SAFE on improving girls' education in Zambia by examining the interventions put in place by SAFE at Kabale Basic School and Lwitikila Girls Secondary School. The research assessed the impact of SAFE'S interventions on the academic achievement of girls in each of the two schools. Further, the research assessed the contribution of SAFE'S interventions to girls' access to education, retention, and to girls' assertiveness, self-awareness and leadership skills. The study population for the study was 1,110 people for both schools, and the sample size was 110. The study population comprised head teachers, deputy head teachers, senior teachers, heads of department, class teachers, SAFE overseers, SAFE pupils, non-SAFE pupils and SAFE committee members, who included some members of the school community. SAFE members constituted the largest number of respondents in the survey. There were also more female than male respondents in the entire sample. The response rate to the questionnaire was 100 percent. The study employed the quantitative and qualitative techniques of data collection. Primary data collection instruments included the questionnaire and the interview guide. Focus group discussions were also conducted. Secondary data was obtained from pupils' record cards, attendance registers, academic progress reports, school reports and other official school documents. The study found that SAFE had pursued interventions in HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, academic activities, life skills and giving material support to girls. SAFE performed well in improving girls' academic performance especially in Mathematics and Science. This was evidenced by the good Grade 9 and 12 examination results for girls who had been attending tuitions conducted by SAFE. SAFE also provided material and financial support and lobbied for girls' bursaries from cooperating partners. There was a rise in the number of girls who received bursaries from 2002-2005. In the area of reproductive health, there was a steady decline in unwanted pregnancies and early marriages, which was attributed to the education and sensitisation interventions employed by SAFE in each of the two schools. There was a rise in the reporting of cases that involved sexual abuse and forcing girls into early marriages. In addition, there was a rise in the number of girls who had voluntary counselling and testing after education and sensitisation conducted by SAFE. Statistics of the increased number of SAFE girls who attained leadership positions indicated that SAFE had equipped girls with life skills such as assertiveness and self-esteem. However, findings also revealed that SAFE did not have adequate material and financial resources to fully satisfy the needs of the children who needed support. Besides, SAFE membership was relatively small in comparison with the total girls' enrolment in each of the two schools. SAFE had largely achieved its objective of improving girls' education in terms of access, retention and academic achievement. The study recommended that SAFE should ensure that it recruits more members. SAFE should consider extending its membership to the middle basic section rather than restricting membership to the upper basic and high school levels only. It was also suggested that SAFE should consider introducing commercial subjects, carpentry and other technical subjects in girls' holiday tuitions and involve more girls in tuitions for Science and Mathematics. SAFE should consider lobbying for sponsorship at tertiary education for girls who successfully complete their high school education. It was also suggested that SAFE should conduct from time to time campaigns similar to the 'Go-Girls Campaign' to encourage more girls to reenter and remain in school.