Impact of the free Basic Education Policy on Enrolment and Completion Rates of Pupils from Low-Income Households in Selected Basic Schools of Lusaka, Zambia

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Mulenga, Anne Mambwe
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This study set out to examine the impact of the Free Basic Education Policy (FBEP) on the enrolment and completion rates of pupils from low-income households in selected Basic Schools of Lusaka, Zambia. The study used a survey research design. The study sample comprised 100 Grade 7 pupils, 5 head teachers and 40 parents. Purposive Sampling was used to select 40 parents/guardians, 5 basic schools in Lusaka from where 100 pupils were selected through Simple Random Sampling. Data were collected using questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and documentary analysis. Quantitative data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) while qualitative data were categorized and analyzed into themes and sub-themes. The findings of the study revealed that: • There was remarkable awareness about the FBEP among pupils and parents/guardians from low-income households. • Families from low-income households were of the view that the impact of the FBEP on enhancing access to education among the poor members of society was insignificant because education was not really free due to the existence of education costs which were still too high for them. • Most of the government basic schools still demanded that a pupil be in full uniform (including school shoes) when enrolling into Grade 1 as well as in the course of basic education. • Some schools continued to administer modest user fees in form of project or maintenance fees. • Learning materials like exercise books provided to the pupils by the government were quite insufficient; hence households still had to meet some costs. • There was some increase in pupil enrolment and a reasonable increase in completion rates among children from low-income households; however, there were still a significant proportion of children who were unable to complete basic education. Following the findings of the study the recommendations therefore, are as follows: a) The Ministry of Education needs to clarify and monitor the implementation of the FBEP guideline concerning school uniform so that no eligible child should be barred from school for not having a school uniform. b) The government should consider providing enough exercise books for every pupil so that parents would not have to face the costs of buying books. c) hi order to promote enrolment and completion rates of children from low-income households, the Ministry of Education should increase the number of bursaries to the children.
Free Education-Policy--Zambia , Free Baisc -Education policy-Enrolment- Completion rate