Challenges faced by teen mothers who re-entered School: A case of selected Schools on the Copper belt Province of Zambia

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Moonga, Gibson Mweemba
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Zambia has a policy in place to carter for the continued education of girls returning to school after giving birth. Despite the policy being implemented, many young girls continue dropping out of school due to challenges encountered in their pursuit of education. The purpose of this study was to establish the challenges faced by teen mothers in secondary schools on the Copperbelt Province, Zambia. The study used an interpretative phenomenology approach (IPA). IPA is a data interpretative framework (inductive approach) that captures and explores the meanings that participants assign to their experiences. This study involved 15 participants, consisting of 5 teachers, 5 parents of teen mothers and 5 pupils from secondary schools. These were selected using purposive sampling. The rationale of using these groups is premised on the multi-dimensional nature of teen mothers' challenges emanating from the school, family and community. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data and a voice recorder was used to record these interviews. The data was categorized according to emerging themes which were later subjected to IPA interpretation. The findings of this study indicated that teen mothers, who returned to school, encountered challenges arising from the negative perception among fellow learners, and the lack of support from teachers and parents. It was also found that teen mothers experienced emotional instability due to lack of professional counseling, and faced a lot of withdrawal from the family and friendship. A few parents that understood the predicament of teen mothers gave holistic support towards their education. Results also show that the bond of attachment of the child gave teen mothers undue pressure and a great challenge of emotional stability. The study further established that there is no tracking system of teen mothers in the re-entry policy. It can be concluded that although the re-entry policy has given the girl-child a chance to return to school upon giving birth, the environment within the school and community remains unfavourable for the full implementation of the policy. The study recommended that there is need for the Ministry of Education ,Science, Vocational training and Early Childhood should adopt a holistic approach which does not dwell on changing girls’ behaviours, but to change the attitudes in society so that girls are encouraged to stay in school. The Ministry of Education should reflect on and urge changes to the Policy to make it law to protect teen girls in schools.
Parents Adolescents-Zambia , Teenage Mothers-Education-Zambia