The Impact of Social and Economic Factors on Access to Free Education in the Basic Schools of Zambia: The Case of Monze District

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Muchimba, Donijah
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Free basic education is that education provided at no cost to pupils and students. It can be of four or seven year's duration of basic school level. In countries with strong economies, it may consist of ten years or even up to tertiary level of education. In 2002, the Zambian government introduced the Policy of Free Basic Education especially for the lower and middle basic (Grades 1-7) in which children were exempt from paying school fees and other related costs. Some of the measures put in place to back up the free basic education Policy included the giving of sector funds and provision of infrastructure and learning materials. The wearing of uniforms was made not mandatory in the basic schools of Zambia. The Policy also made enrolment of pupils unconditional that is, it was not to be linked to any form of contributions either in monetary terms or material resources. The data on the impact of social and economic factors on access to free education were derived from interviews with Head teachers, teachers, parents and pupils. The research methodology comprised the population, sample population and instrumentation (semi- structured interviews, questionnaires, and focus group discussions). Data analysis was done using computer software called Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) so as to generate charts of frequencies and percentages. Qualitative data were categorised and sub- categorised to themes in line with the objectives of the study. From the views and responses of the subjects, the study discovered that many school going children still failed to access the free basic education (grade 1-7) due to the impact of social and economic factors such as poverty, unfavourable attitudes towards education, family size, early marriages and pregnancies, gender, geographical location and long distances from schools. The other factors were employment of children in agricultural activities, and other household chores, low motivation on the part of the pupils and financial constraints. Sickness, death of the parents and natural disasters such as droughts and starvation affected attendance in the basic schools of Monze District.
Free Education--Basic Schools--Zambia