The causes and extent of school dropout in Botswana public senior secondary schools
Lecha, Moiteelasilo Dickson Ngamula
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The Botswana basic education program is intended to provide for equity and equality of opportunity and access to education. Every Motswana child is expected to attend school continuously up to the national mandatory tenth grade (Revised National Policy on Education, (RNPE) 1994.). Since not all children can be absorbed into senior secondary schools, examinations are used to select those who will proceed to higher education. However, some children selected to senior secondary education drop out before they complete their education cycle. Children who drop out forfeit their chances of going through a senior secondary education program, and thereby lose the opportunity to better themselves, obtain better paying jobs, or make informed contributions to the national development process. This study sought to discover reasons why some children do not complete their intended cycle of schooling. The research adopted a qualitative design in which in-depth interviews of focus groups were conducted. The main population groups interviewed were teachers, parents, senior secondary students, and school dropouts. The views obtained from the interviews were checked against documents and records of the Botswana Ministry of Education. The findings indicate that the reasons given by research subjects as causes for school dropout are consistent with those appearing on official records: pregnancy, desertion, illness, and death. However, the respondents also added four major themes of self-withdrawal or withdrawal for personal reasons, parental withdrawal, lack of transportation fees to and from classes, and lack of accommodation. The sub-themes for students who withdraw from school for personal reasons include their not seeing any value in education, thinking that the subject matter is too difficult, or being misguided by peer influence. The conclusions drawn are that the research subjects believe school dropout is an important issue that should be addressed. The suggested solution strategies include the call for effective teachers, community parenting, community-school partnership, sex education and contraception, and formulating and enforcing laws where parents and guardians will ensure that students stay in school for up to a certain age or else be liable for prosecution (enforced school age).
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