Girl child education in rural Zambia: assessment of factors contributing to increased rate of pregnancies among pupils in selected primary schools in Masaiti district.

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Chilala, Wilfred
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The University of Zambia
The study attempted to assess the girl child education and factors that have led to continued pregnancies among school girls in the rural district of Masaiti, on the Copperbelt province in Zambia. The study focused on ascertaining possible causes or factors; investigating available units or programmes promoting girl child education in schools; and to what extent parents were involved in mitigating factors that have led to continued prevalence of pregnancies among school girls. This was despite efforts put by government and Non- Governmental organisations to combat the scourge. Schools that had recorded remarkable rates of pregnancies in the recent past were identified and participants were purposely selected to help out with investigations. A total population sample of 115 participated in the study. The study mainly deployed qualitative method of data collection although quantitative method was also deployed to yield empirical data to compliment the qualitative data. Literature review from Annual School Bulletins and other sources was collected and evaluated against the study findings gathered through questionnaires, interview schedules and focus group discussions. The results of the research were associated with the assertion made. The association and conclusions were made, and thus the results obtained from the research were satisfying the assertion. The pregnancy prevalence was evident from the statistical reports both from DEB office and schools. Being a rural district with poor socio-economic situation, many pupils especially girls had been left vulnerable as they sought school requisites because parents were not able to provide. Boys and men who came in to help these girls did it at a cost – sexual demand. Other factors that had led to continued pregnancies among school girls included: long distance to school, influence of peer pressure, lack of role models, non–involvement of parents in sex education with their children and the ineffective provision of guidance and counselling. Some cultural and traditional practices had too contributed to continued pregnancies. Therefore, input from the government in terms of building more schools, formalizing the position of guidance and counselling, providing free education from early childhood to grade 12 and applying stiff punitive actions to males who impregnate school girls would help reduce or remove completely this negative scourge. Parental involvement and sensitization on the importance of school needed to be strengthened and ongoing.