Understanding Pupil Absenteeism and its Factors in Rural Primary Schools of Nyimba District of Zambia
This study examined the concept of pupil absentism and explored factors that perpetuate it in rural primary schools of Nyimba district. The objectives of the study were to: establish the causes of pupil absenteeism; identify ways in which pupil absenteeism affected teaching and learning process; ascertain home and school interventions to curb pupil absenteeism in rural primary schools in Nyimba district. A descriptive research design which was supported by qualitative methods of data collection was used in the study. Interview Guides and six Focus Group Discussions were used to collect data from a purposively sampled population of forty two (42) study participants comprising of six (6) guidance and counselling teachers and thirty six (36) pupils. The study used thematic analysis to analyze data, where common themes were identified, grouped for easy interpretation and presented using verbatim based on the research objectives. The study identified ways in which absenteeism affected the teaching and learning processes including poor performance, fostering indiscipline, insufficient comprehension of concepts and the difficulties experienced by teachers. Intervenetions to curb pupil absenteeism were ascertained calling for parents, teachers and all stakeholders in education to make firm decisions to stop absenteeism among the learners by avoiding early marriages, fostering collaboration and being flexible in time management. The study therefore, recommended that school administrators should take keen interest in providing careers talk to learners through invitation of significant people in society to share experiences with learners. Schools should engage in constructive sensitization of parents on the importance of education to curtail absenteeism in primary schools, parents should utilise Parent Teacher Association (PTA) platforms to sensitize each other on the importance of education, promote traditional ceremonies like chinamwali during the holidays and week ends. The study also recommended that the Ministry of General Education should consider building more schools in rural areas to alleviate the problem of long distances learners cover daily. Harsh punishments should be given to men who marry or impregnant school going children.