Challenges faced by pupils from child headed households: a study on selected public schools in Kabwe urban district.

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Mulenga, Agness
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The University of Zambia
The study set out to examine the challenges faced by pupils from child headed households at selected public schools in Kabwe Urban District. Pupils from child-headed households are part and parcel of the school and local communities, the challenges they face may limit their potential to realize their educational dreams and through no fault of their own are left behind. These children seem to attract very little concern from both the school authorities and other stakeholders and according to Lemmer (2003) often end up as school drop-outs or push-outs who end up joining the hordes of social delinquents. The study was anchored on Bowen’s family systems theory, which views the family as essential for human social development. The study noted the absence of adult guardianship as an impediment to the personal development of pupils from child headed house The study objectives were: To examine how economic, social and academic problems cause poor performances in child-headed households in Kabwe Urban; To assess the contributions School Management made to the challenges that caused poor academic performances of pupils from child headed families in selected public schools in Kabwe Urban; To identify strategies of key stakeholders for reducing or eliminating the challenges that caused poor academic performances of learners from child-headed households. The study applied a survey design using the qualitative paradigm; this enabled the researcher to collect the data on child headed households from their natural setting; and capture their lived experiences and [perspectives of those respondents who were closer to the phenomenon. Pupils from child headed households identified nine major challenges which they said had a bearing on their academic performances; five bordered on basic needs like food, fatigue school requirements such as uniforms, school shoes, and books; and four on affective challenges like intimidation, labelling, competition and peer pressure; four were community based challenges which included shelter, sexual abuse, child labor, insecurity, sexually transmitted illnesses, insecurity, early marriages, drug and alcohol abuse, incest, and peer pressure were also made. School authorities identified school fees, absenteeism, inferior complexes, and failure to cope with other school developments like changes in uniform types. Based on those findings the study recommended that stakeholders should develop strategies for integrating all children in child-headed homes with adult family formations; and that where possible re-establish links with the living relatives of the children; that the stakeholders should establish a well-informed multispectral approach towards addressing the needs of those vulnerable children; that school authorities should formalize the position of school counselor/guidance teacher in order to enhance information gathering and monitoring of the welfare of vulnerable pupils in the school; that schools should enhance their social programs that enhance pupil to pupil relationships; and that schools should review and develop flexible policies that ease the lives of vulnerable pupils at school. The study further recommended the enhancement of Sexual Rehabilitation Health Education programs in the school and the community. The study also recommends that vulnerable children be given a platform within civic and parliamentary space to participate in decision-making processes and articulate issue that directly affect them. It was also recommended that since there was very little information specifically on the academic and socio-economic aspects of child headed households; the Central Statistics Office could include a specific portfolio on their Living Conditions and Household Surveys. That the social Welfare and Community Development Departments could also include specific programs that address the challenges experienced by children from child headed households at school.
Child-headed households. , Heads of households.