Stakeholders perceptions on absenteeism among primary school learners from tobacco farming homes: a case of Nkeyema district.

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Nyumbu, Sishwashwa
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The University of Zambia
This study was aimed at ascertaining the link between tobacco farming and the factors which contribute to learner absenteeism in selected primary schools of Nkeyema District. The objectives were to: analyse the factors which contribute to absenteeism of learners from tobacco and nontobacco farming homes in Nkeyema district, find out the stakeholders’ perceived effect of tobacco farming on primary school learner absenteeism in Nkeyema district and to device measures for addressing learner absenteeism in Nkeyema district. The study was qualitative in nature and had a sample of 44 participants who were purposively selected from two primary schools in Nkeyema District. These participants were selected from class teachers, learners from both tobacco and nontobacco farming home backgrounds, tobacco and non-tobacco farming parents from the communities of the two selected schools. A descriptive design was employed and data was collected using sermi- structured interviews and focus group discussions. Data was later analyzed thematically. The findings of the study revealed that the major factors which contributed to absenteeism among learners from both tobacco and non-tobacco farming homes were; working in tobacco activities, doing of house chores, long distances from homes to schools and lack of encouragement by parents. The study also found out that tobacco farming had a negative effect on learner absenteeism in Nkeyema District in that it exacerbated the problem of long distances from homes to school through the camp farming system, tobacco farming promoted the over dependence on children to do house chores when parents were busy with farm works. Tobacco farming also promoted child labour. The study suggested some remedies which can be used to reduce learner absenteeism in Nkeyema District. These were; parents to be providing their children with the educational requirements as a way of motivating them to attend school, sensitize both parents and their children on the importance of regular school attendance, increase parents- teachers collaboration on matters affecting learners and that the tobacco farming companies operating in Nkeyema District should work together with the school administrators to introduce mobile education program for learners in the tobacco farming camps.
Child labor--Zambia.