Exploring factors contributing to secondary school teachers’ retention in rural areas in Pemba district of Southern province, Zambia.

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Munthali, Jacob
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The University of Zambia
This qualitative study explored lived experiences of secondary school teachers teaching in rural areas in Pemba District in the Southern province of Zambia. Dialoguing Unhu (Ubuntu) theoretical framework was adopted to help expound teachers‟ phenomenon of remaining teaching in rural areas when others in the profession are repelled. In 2008, the rural teacher attrition was at 13% annually which means that the already depleted population of rural teacher was reducing by 13% (MOE, EMIS Statistical Bulletin, 2008). Comparatively, MOGE‟s 2016 Education Statistics Bulletin collectively reported that the number of teachers who have been leaving since 2008 is much high than the 5000 annual teacher recruitment. The sample size comprised of eleven teachers from three secondary schools, three headteachers and one district education official. The baseline for teacher participation in the study was ten year rural experience specifically in their current schools. Purposive and snowballing (referral) sampling techniques were engaged in the selection of the participants. Through open-ended interviews and Focus Discussion Groups (FDGs), participants shared information about their decisions to remain teaching in rural areas despite the tradeoffs. Data collection was done through interviews and FDGs, journaling and pictures. Data analysis was done thematically using the phenomenological protocol to ensure trustworthiness and credibility, checking of transcripts, member checking strategy and triangulation. Practicing epoche (suspension of judgments) helped in the bracketing of personal biases, and assumptions. There were several findings that contributed to teachers remaining teaching in rural areas as cited by participants: (a) peer support, (b) administrative support, (c) love teaching and learning, (d) sense of familial culture, (e) religion, (f) family factors, (g) entrepreneurial activities, (h) isolation, (i) affordability and quality of life and (j) an embracing local community. Further analysis, resulted in main themes explaining why teachers have remained teaching in rural areas for more than ten years. The three main themes findings that emerged revolved primarily on peer and professional relationships, school environment and outside of school set up. All these main themes were permeated by the value of the existence of Unhu (ubuntu) and respect. The findings suggest that retention of teacher was a result of good human relations and family oriented school environment. In addition, the Tonga culture (similar to ubuntu), teachers‟ commitment to contribute to the socio-economic activities of the school and community contributed to retention.
Thesis of Master of Education in Educational Administration and Management.