Editor's Comment

Boys’ education also matters

THE story that boys are dropping out of school in Sioma District to seek employment in neighbouring countries makes sad reading.
The fact that boys, in this case, are abandoning school in preference for work is a drawback on the gains Zambia is making in the education of its citizens.
We wonder why this was not reported to higher authorities until Vice-President Inonge Wina visited the district.
Mrs Wina was in the area to flag off installation of satellite village television.
She was informed by Mwanambao School head teacher Masiliso Sikwibele that the pass rate at the school is low because most of the pupils, including boys, drop out to seek employment in neighbouring Namibia and Angola. They are employed as herdsmen and houseboys.
From the head teacher’s comments, the number of boys in school, which is good at Grade Seven, drops at Grade Nine, leaving fewer of them to sit the final examination.
It is surprising that in this case, it is the boys who drop out of school (it is not commendable for girls to drop out of school either).
The mere fact that the boys are dropping out of school to seek employment should raise concern for anyone who wants to see Zambia develop.
The nation spends a lot on education and it depends on the youth to grow, get an education and contribute effectively to national development.
It should concern us all because the fact that the boys are leaving school to work means they are losing their chances to a better future and finding themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty.
The jobs they find are nothing to lift them out of poverty while it can also not be said they are lured to the neighbouring countries because of an urban life.
In view of this, there is need to find out what draws the youth to abandon school and choose to do jobs that are unsustainable.
Education authorities need to work with parents to show the boys the importance of attaining a better qualification and the benefits that an educated person is bound to accrue.
One of the drawbacks a number of children in rural areas have is the lack of role models to inspire them to persevere in their education despite the hardships they may face.
Rural children generally have a limited scope of professionals to look up to for inspiration. Mostly it is teachers, nurses, police officers and soldiers.
Although schools have, or should have, career guidance sessions, it is unlikely that most pupils will grasp what other professions entail.
It is due to this lack of exposure that rural school-going children tend to aspire for jobs within their limited horizon.
The onus is therefore on the education authorities to ensure they open up the boys’ horizons by showing them some of the successful people and encouraging them that they can also be successful if they apply themselves to their education.
Of course there are challenges in some rural areas, but these should not altogether lead school-going boys to abandon their education.
The boys should be made to understand they are being groomed for leadership in both their homes and workplace and this they can only do better if they set their eyes on education.
Girls seem to be getting better attention and care as some of those that are forced into marriage are tracked down, removed from these unions and sent back to school.
Government, working with non-governmental organisations, should also track down some of these boys and bring them back to school. They, too, need a good education.

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