Accessing tertiary education and experiences of non-commissioned officers in the military : a gender perspective of selected Ndola army based units

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Akabondo, Nawa Ivy
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The University of Zambia
The study was designed to explore and understand the lived experiences of the Non- Commissioned officers in the Army in relation to accessing tertiary education in Ndola Based Army Units from a Gender perspective. The motivation behind this study was that despite measures put in place to promote tertiary education in the army, it was not known how the levels of participation in tertiary education were by the Non Commissioned Officers. The objectives of the study were: (1). to assess the participation of the NCOs with regard to tertiary education in the Army, (2). to determine the causes of low participation in accessing tertiary education by the NCOs in the Army, and (3). to investigate the strategies put in place in accessing tertiary education by the NCOs in the Army. A mixed methods research design, which combined qualitative and quantitative techniques, where used in this study. The target sample comprised of non-commissioned officers, the command, chief clerks and education warrant officers. Purposive sampling, Simple random sampling was used to select 100 male and female, participants for the study. In-depth interviews and focus group discussion where used to collect primary data. Qualitative data where analyzed thematically through the identification of themes that emerged from the data. While descriptive statistics where used to analyse quantitative data. The findings of the study revealed that access to tertiary education by the NCOs was low. Evidence shows that the number of NCOs who acquire tertiary education is less in numbers as compared to those who don‟t receive the training at all. For example, out of the strength of 645 men and women in uniform in one of the selected units in Ndola, only 135 have had access to tertiary education from 2000-2017. Access to tertiary education was also lower for the female soldiers as compared to their male counterparts. The lower access to tertiary education by some female soldiers attributed to lower levels of education, as they did not meet the entry requirements for tertiary education, coupled with the negative attitudes by commanders in preference to military courses especially at section level. Furthermore, the study found that there are regulatory measures put in place by the Army in order to curb the low accessibility to tertiary education such as self-sponsorship Consent Form. The same form was also discovered to be a hindrance in accessing tertiary education due to the stiff conditions attached to it. It learnt that the majority of NCOs are shunning away from signing the document. It was also discovered that the Army only grants 6 months paid leave. In the event that the course exceeding six (06) months, the applicant shall be deemed to be on unpaid study leave. This means that the candidate will go without pay for the remaining of the course of study. This in itself is a hindrance, as the majority of the NCOs cannot afford to pay the tuition fees for themselves. Especially considering that most of the programmes in higher education run for a period of more than one year. In the quest to allow soldiers to further their studies, the Army has also signed a MoU with the University of Zambia and Nkrumah University. These institutions do reserve some slots for soldiers and officers who meet the desired entry requirements every year. Key words: Accessing Tertiary Education, Non-Commissioned Officers, Army and Gender Perspective.
Education, Higher--Zambia--Congresses. , Tertiary education--Zambia.