Mothering and Schooling: A Case Study of Learning Experiences of Pregnancy Re-Entry Girls in Zambia
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This thesis explores the experiences of pregnancy re-entry girls in secondary school in Ndola, Zambia. It was informed by perspectives in the Sociology of Childhood which consider children as social actors who should also be studied from their own perspective. The low re-admission rates among girls who fall pregnant whilst in school, despite existence of a school re-entry policy after giving birth, forms the background that necessitated this research. The research aimed at gaining knowledge on the pregnancy re-entry girls’ school and off-school daily experiences that influence their learning, their reasons for returning and/or not returning to school, the challenges they face and how they respond, and the support systems available and needed by the girls. The research used different qualitative methods such as observation, drawing, essay writing, time-lines and semi-structured interviews with 12 girls, 9 of which had returned to school (re-entrants) while the other 3 had not returned to school (non-re-entrants). In order to gain more insights, adult participants were also interviewed; these included 2 school head teachers (male), 2 guidance and counselling teachers, one from each gender, 1 official from the Forum for African Women Educationist of Zambia (FAWEZA) and 3 parents (female). The data that was collected was qualitatively analysed. Relying on an approach that considers the learning experiences of the girls and how these are influenced by their mothering role, the study argues for focussing beyond mere re-entry but attending to structural factors such as the socio-economic, gender, culture and local constructions of childhood and motherhood among others that interact in complex ways to mainly exclude the mothering girls from the education system. Attainment of educational quality and achievements for these girls needs recognition of endemic structural gender inequalities that are embedded in the social contexts.