An investigation into the cases of pupil absenteeism from grade 7 composite examination in Zambia: A case study of selected Schools of Mumbwa District

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Shooba, Eness
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This study sought to compare pupil absenteeism from Grade 7 composite examination, establish the causes of pupils` absenteeism from Grade 7 composite examination, determine the roles that parents and schools need to play to curb pupil absenteeism from Grade 7 composite examination and recommend measures that can be put in place to curb pupil’s absenteeism from Grade 7 composite examination. The research employed the survey design which was descriptive in nature. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were employed. The sample included 62 Grade 7 teachers and 10 parents’ Focus Groups, in selected schools of Mumbwa District. Purposeful sampling procedure was employed to arrive at the respondents. The research revealed that, there was no difference with regard to pupil absenteeism from examinations from 2006-20009, as the differences noted were negligible. However, there was an upward trend in 2010 with girls in the lead. The findings showed that, the major drivers of pupil absenteeism from Grade 7 composite examination were physical factors such as long distance to school and adverse climate, especially in the rainy season when roads became impassible due to floods, health factors such as illnesses and death in the family, and personal attitude like pupils not being interested in school due to peer pressure and laziness. Other causes of pupil absenteeism from Grade 7 composite examination were, home related factors like parents and guardians having a negative attitude towards school, house chores, parents’ failure to provide food and other school requirements, herding cattle, parents re-locating and children being withdrawn from school during the farming season. Furthermore, cultural and social factors such as early marriages, early pregnancies and initiation ceremonies and also teacher related factors like teacher’s absenteeism from work and lack of commitment, teachers’ failure to cover the syllabus adequately and failure to prepare the pupils for examinations were yet other causes of pupil absenteeism from examinations. Additionally, school climate and classroom environment were also found to be causes of pupil absenteeism during examinations especially poor sanitation, poor water supply, one candidate being entered at more than one centre, lack of classroom furniture and unavailability of teaching and learning material.The roles that parents and schools need to play in curbing this absenteeism were that of guiding and counseling the pupils, providing recreation centers, forming pressure groups to sensitize parents on the importance of education and providing school requirements. It was further recommended that pupil absenteeism from examinations could be stopped if standard officers intensified external teacher monitoring, if schools provided suitable environment for teaching and learning and government to build more schools within a radius of 4km.