Junior secondary school pupil dropout in Botswana: the challenge to universal basic education
Thekiso, Neo L.
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The study seeks to gain insight and understanding into the problem of school dropout in junior secondary schools in Botswana. Primary school pupils together with junior secondary school pupils constitute the basic education populace. The basic education population nonetheless comprises the highest population of school dropout in the country. This worrisome extent of school dropout incapacitates provision of basic education to all and it is what impelled questions on the prevalence and the reasons why dropout in junior schools persists in Botswana. Research states that dropout is a process that follows multiple factors that pull or push a learner out of school. Based on Rumberger’s (2008) model there are two (2) factors of school; individual factors and institutional factors at a household, school and community level. These factors founded the methodology upon which this study is premised. Using a quantitative research design, the idea was to analyse data on the prevalence of school dropout and the reasons for school dropout across Botswana as recorded by Botswana national statistics. Data used was collected from the latest education statistics report of 2012 from which an analysis of dropout occurrences and reasons was conducted. Results indicated that individual factors especially behavioral factors have great implications on dropout. Truancy and pregnancy emerged as the highest contributors to pupil dropout in Botswana. From a household perspective, poverty emerged as a prominent concern in school dropout. Poverty influences other factors of school dropout including pregnancy, child labor, lack of school fees and early marriages. School dropout was highest in rural settlements. Despite uniformity in enrolment, more female than male pupils dropped out. Unconventionally, more females dropped out due to truancy as opposed to pregnancy. The results from this study highlighted truancy as the biggest challenge to basic education completion across all genders. This change in school dropout patterns informs education administrators and policy makers on where the biggest challenge in school dropout lies. Currently, policies and regulations addressing school dropout are more focused and responsive to the problem of pregnancy and providing an enabling environment for the girl child to return to school. However, evidence following this study suggests than truancy is the biggest challenge to the provision of basic education for all.