The problem of high school dropout rates in Salima manifested its magnitude recently during the 2017/2018 Primary School Leaving Certificate (PSLC) examinations as a class which initially had 48 pupils ended up with only 12 sitting for them after the others dropped out.
This report is based on an eye witness account at Chinsolo Primary school in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Kambalame in the district.
Head Teacher for the school, Christopher Phiri confirmed that the class had 48 learners at the beginning of the school year but 36 of them dropped out.
“It is really sad that many learners continue to drop out of school. Every year we enroll up to 300 learners in standard 1 but that number goes down gradually as they go up the classes,” he explained.
Phiri said causes of school dropouts include a general lack of interest with school due to some cultural practices which are undermining the value of education.
“Parents here prefer to send their children to the lake to work with fisher men. Other boys and girls go to work in South Africa as unskilled labourers while some girls are usually married off at tender ages,” the head teacher pointed out.
District Coordinator for Primary Education Advisors (CPEA) in Salima, Joseph Friday, admitted that dropout rates are high in some schools but said a number of projects are being implemented in the district to turn around the situation.
“It is true that in some schools we are experiencing high dropout rates due to communities’ lack of interest in education. We will continue to connect those areas to projects and interventions that can help to change people attitudes towards education,” said Friday.
He added: “In some areas we used to have classrooms with as miserable as four learners due to high school dropout rates but now we are noticing some improvement after rolling out various interventions in such communities,”
In an interview, GVH Malendo, whose area is a catchment for Chinsolo primary School said he would call for a community meeting with his subjects to find ways of promoting education in his area.