Teacher's and pupils's perceptions of causes of puipil absenteeism during grade 12 National Practical subjects: case study of selected High Schools of Kabwe District

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Lubeya, Florence Mwelwa
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Pupil absenteeism from national practical examinations has been and continues to be a major disciplinary problem amongst pupils in Zambian schools. It was thought that absenteeism from practical examinations could be seen as a consequence of an interaction of many factors, some of which include the individual, the government and society.The study looked at teachers’ and pupils’ perceptions about the importance of practical subjects and the causes of pupil absenteeism during grade 12 national practical examinations in selected practical subjects. The specific objectives were to ascertain teachers’ and pupils’ perceptions of the importance of practical subjects, to establish the causes of pupil absenteeism in practical subjects, to establish the roles of high school administrators and teachers on the attendance of pupils to examinations, and to find out measures that could be undertaken to improve pupil attendance during examinations.This study employed a descriptive survey design following both qualitative and quantitative techniques of data collection. The qualitative method used focus group discussions for pupils and interview schedules for heads of departments for practical subjects who were the key informants for the study. The quantitative method mainly relied on questionnaires for teachers.The sample consisted of 126 subjects drawn from 6 selected high schools which offered practical subjects. Quantitative data was analyzed using the statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to generate frequencies, graphs and other statistics. Qualitative data was analyzed through coding of emerging themes. The results of the study revealed various factors which contributed to pupil absenteeism during national practical examinations and these were categorized in different areas such as those that relate to the attitude of pupils, teachers, parents and the school environment. These include pupil and teacher unpreparedness, lack of support from school administration, parents and teachers, peer pressure, fear of the examinations, pupils’ laziness, inadequate provision of learning and teaching materials, poor infrastructure and unfavourable learning environment, poor teaching strategies by teachers, and low staffing levels. Suggestions and recommendations were made based on the findings to meet the objectives and these include: schools to conduct career talks on the importance of examinations, investigating each case of persistent cause of absenteeism, school managers should be more supportive to practical subjects and urge teachers to use a variety and interesting teaching strategies.