STUDENTS' ABSENTEEISM: A SILENT KILLER OF UNIVERSAL SECONDARY EDUCATION (USE) IN UGANDA

Article (PDF Available)inInternational Journal of Construction Education and Research 2(10) · November 2014with 4,177 Reads
Abstract
Education has a huge impact on any human society and it can safely be assumed that no society is optimally functional until it is properly educated. In the global perspective, it is an undeniable fact that the progress of a nation is very much dependent on the education of its citizens. Similarly, in Uganda education is a fundamental human right and it is the duty of the state to promote free and compulsory education to the citizens. This constitutional mandate gave birth to free education from primary to secondary under Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE) since 1997 and 2007 respectively. The purpose of this study was to investigate the major causes of students' absenteeism; and the possible solutions to the vices in Universal Secondary Education Schools in Uganda. The study applied a descriptive cross sectional research design. The study also employed both qualitative and quantitative approaches/methods. Data was collected using secondary and primary sources. Secondary sources consisted of publications, reports and literature related to students' absenteeism whist primary data was collected using questionnaires and interviews. The collected data was analyzed using descriptive statistics from the study population of one thousand (1000) constituting a sample of 278 respondents of which 226 returned their fully completed questionnaires giving a response rate at 81.3%; obtained from 17 out of 36 USE schools in the four (4) districts of Serere, Ngora, Soroti and Kumi comprised of 07, 04, 03, and 03 USE schools respectively. The four districts were considered because they have all categories of secondary schools in Uganda. The study findings showed that; Lack of scholastic requirements, household work, lack of interest in education, hunger at school/lack of midday meals, sexual harassment at school, long distance to school, illness or disease, loss of parent or close relative, peer influence, and harsh punishment at school were the top ten (10) causes of students' absenteeism in USE schools respectively. These causes were both un excused (64.5%) and excused (35.5%). Furthermore, the empirical study also shows that; the average rate of students' absenteeism is 23.18% in day schools as compared to 3.25% in boarding schools. The mainly affected categories were; children from poor families, children living far from school, female students, orphans, disabled, male students, and children living with single parent as reported by the respondents during the study. The study recommends that; parents understand their responsibility, government reduces taxes on scholastics materials/provides them free, improve the household income, the government and development partners to support school feeding programme, need to introduce open schooling system, and schools be held accountable for improving attendance, and finally, future researchers should examine the relationship between the District Education Officers and Secondary Schools
International Journal of Education and Research Vol. 2 No. 10 October 2014
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STUDENTS’ ABSENTEEISM: A SILENT KILLER OF UNIVERSAL
SECONDARY EDUCATION (USE) IN UGANDA
Robert Agwot Komakech* & John Robert Osuu
Teaching Assistant in the Department of Business Studies
Faculty of Social Sciences and Management Studies, Kumi University
P.O BOX 178, Kumi, Uganda (East Africa); Tel: +256 774 181 052/+256 752 181 052
E-mail (Corresponding): kagwot@gmail.com
ABSTRACT
Education has a huge impact on any human society and it can safely be assumed that no society is
optimally functional until it is properly educated. In the global perspective, it is an undeniable fact
that the progress of a nation is very much dependent on the education of its citizens. Similarly, in
Uganda education is a fundamental human right and it is the duty of the state to promote free and
compulsory education to the citizens. This constitutional mandate gave birth to free education from
primary to secondary under Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary
Education (USE) since 1997 and 2007 respectively. The purpose of this study was to investigate the
major causes of students’ absenteeism; and the possible solutions to the vices in Universal
Secondary Education Schools in Uganda. The study applied a descriptive cross sectional research
design. The study also employed both qualitative and quantitative approaches/methods. Data was
collected using secondary and primary sources. Secondary sources consisted of publications, reports
and literature related to students’ absenteeism whist primary data was collected using questionnaires
and interviews. The collected data was analyzed using descriptive statistics from the study
population of one thousand (1000) constituting a sample of 278 respondents of which 226 returned
their fully completed questionnaires giving a response rate at 81.3%; obtained from 17 out of 36
USE schools in the four (4) districts of Serere, Ngora, Soroti and Kumi comprised of 07, 04, 03, and
03 USE schools respectively. The four districts were considered because they have all categories of
secondary schools in Uganda.
The study findings showed that; Lack of scholastic requirements, household work, lack of interest
in education, hunger at school/lack of mid-day meals, sexual harassment at school, long distance to
school, illness or disease, loss of parent or close relative, peer influence, and harsh punishment at
school were the top ten (10) causes of students’ absenteeism in USE schools respectively. These
causes were both un excused (64.5%) and excused (35.5%). Furthermore, the empirical study also
shows that; the average rate of students’ absenteeism is 23.18% in day schools as compared to
3.25% in boarding schools. The mainly affected categories were; children from poor families,
children living far from school, female students, orphans, disabled, male students, and children
living with single parent as reported by the respondents during the study. The study recommends
that; parents understand their responsibility, government reduces taxes on scholastics
materials/provides them free, improve the household income, the government and development
partners to support school feeding programme, need to introduce open schooling system, and
schools be held accountable for improving attendance, and finally, future researchers should
examine the relationship between the District Education Officers and Secondary Schools
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Administration; Teacher qualification and students’ academic performance, and Effects of students
absenteeism on students’ academic/school performance.
Key Words: Students, Absenteeism, Education, Universal Secondary Education (USE), Uganda
1.0 Brief History of Universal Secondary Education (USE) in Uganda
Following the introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1997, enrolment in
primary schools has risen from 2.7 million to over 7.6 million pupils, Juuko et al., (2007).
This mass increase in enrolment at primary level had very serious implications as they
transited to the next level of education in terms of the number of students that sought admission
into secondary by 2003. This prompted the sector to undertake a series of studies which culminated
into the development of the Universal Post Primary Education and Training (UPPET) Strategy
2003. The strategy provided a number of policy options to government on how to enhance
access to secondary education as a way of sustaining the gains under the UPE programme.
In light of the above, the adoption of Universal Secondary Education (USE) in 2007 highlights
some of the success stories in the sub-sector as stipulated in the Uganda Education Statistical
Abstract, 2009 that include but not limited to: USE has subsequently increased the transition
rate from P7 to S1 by 22% from 46.9% to 68.6% and enrolment at secondary education
increased from 814,087, 954,328, and 1,187,785 in 2006, 2007 and 2011 respectively in secondary
schools of which 689,541 students are on USE programme, MoES: Uganda Education Statistical
Abstract, 2011). In 2012, 2013 and 2014; the total enrolment in USE schools increased by 9.04%
from 689,541 to 751,867; 7.3% from 751,867 to 806,992 and 8.2% 806,992 to 873,476 respectively
as highlighted in the MoES sector annual performance report for financial year 2013/2014. In
addition, the sector has also made strides in recruiting some of the teachers required and provision
of facilities in 38 sub-counties without any form of secondary school in the country. Furthermore,
the number of schools receiving government funding increased from 30.8% in 2010 to 56.2% in
2011. This is as a result of government’s continued partnership with the private sector in the
implementation of USE, (MoES: Uganda Education Statistical Abstract, 2011). Looking at
secondary school enrollment by grade and gender in 2010, whereas the number of S1 students was
324,000, the numbers of S2-S4 students decreased by 10-15% and the number of S4 students was
220,000. The number of S5 and S6 students was 79,000 and 68,000 respectively, falling to around
20% of the number of S1 students. In all grades, the number of enrolled boys exceeded the number
of enrolled girls, and this disparity was especially large in S4 according to MoES: Uganda
Education Statistical Abstract 2010 as cited by JICA, 2012 report.
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Figure 1: Trend of Secondary Education Enrollment by Gender from 2004 to 2014
Source: MoES: Education Management Information System, 2014
Although considerable evidence has been collected on increasing rates of student enrolment in
schools across the world, most education systems in developing countries do not collect or analyse
attendance data on a consistent basis. In the absence of reliable data, there is little definitive
information, (Teachers’ Union, April 2010). However, periodic studies and anecdotal observations
in many countries particularly Uganda show that ‘enrolled’ students are frequently not in school.
Throughout the 1970s, American high school principals consistently identified poor attendance as
the major problem facing secondary school administrators. But rather than define poor attendance,
studies concentrated on examining factors associated with it, Rothman, (2001). Wright, (1978) as
cited by Rothman, 2001; analyses secondary school-level data in Virginia, surveying schools on
their attendance rates and aspects of the curriculum, organisation and staff. The researcher found
statistically significant differences by location: urban schools had the lowest attendance rates, then
suburban schools; and schools in other areas had the highest attendance rates. Within these
geographical groupings, different factors were related to attendance rates, including subject
offerings (electives), work programs for school and age of the teaching staff as added by Wright,
(1978). In addition, DeJung & Duckworth, (1986) study reported students’ absenteeism rates for the
whole-day as; 4.4 per cent for the larger district and 2.8 per cent for the smaller. The researchers
also asked students why they were absent from individual class periods; 20 per cent of students
stated that they had “other things to do,” rather than attend school for a day; illness and personal
problems accounted for less than 10 per cent of absences. Rothman, (2001) states that; students with
very high absence rates identified parties, drugs and a general dislike of school for most of their
absences.
Furthermore, Peters & Kethley, (2002) found that class attendance did not affect students’
examinations performance. In contrast, Marburger, (2001) reveals that students who missed on a
given day were significantly more likely to respond incorrectly to the questions relating to material
covered that day than students who were present. Contributing to the same debate, Reid, (2005)
agrees that; when students are absent from school, there are a wide range of short term educational
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consequences that they face; first and foremost, students miss out on assignments and as a result,
they are more likely to underachieve or perform poorly. Durden & Ellis, (2003) found that class
attendance and motivation were related; and they notes that if motivation is not controlled for, the
effect of absence from class on performance may be overstated.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Uganda is currently implementing a policy for USE to increase development and sustain the gains
in enrollment provided by UPE, in an attempt to decrease poverty and meet the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs). The USE policy has considerably improved the enrollment rates
to public secondary schools from poor households, however, there are still lots more to be done to
improve the quality of secondary education in Uganda.
Despite, the governments’ effort to provide tuition, teachers, infrastructure and instructional
materials to USE participating schools, students’ absenteeism is an alarming problem for
administrators, teachers, parents and the society in general. However, there have been many studies
on the problem worldwide, considerable knowledge gaps exists on the subject in Uganda because
many of the available studies were conducted on teachers’ absenteeism; causes of drop outs in
primary schools; and teachers’ support for the USE programme. It is in this light that this study was
carried out to investigate the causes of students’ absenteeism; and finding the possible solutions to
students’ absenteeism in Universal Secondary Education in Uganda.
2.3 The Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study was to investigate the major causes of students’ absenteeism in
Universal Secondary Education schools in Uganda.
1.3 Significance of the Study
The significance of the study includes:
i. Since the USE policy is relatively new in Sub-Sahara Africa, not many surveys or
researches have been done evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of the policy, thus
the study findings will be deemed useful to the professionals, researchers, students, and the
Ugandan Government in educational planning policy so as to formulate policies which can
benefit poor students or apply stiff penalties to parent/ and student against those who absent
themselves or are involved in manual work during class hours.
ii. The results of this study may also provide suggestions to policy makers at the Ministry of
Education and Sports (MoES) in Uganda to come up with interventions that will enhance
students’ retention in schools.
iii. The teachers as street bureaucrats will also use the findings to assist the parents and the
students to ensure that they complete secondary education and proceed onto higher
institutions of learning for professional course(s) in larger numbers.
iv. The findings would also be useful to political leaders, parents, students and community at
large since they contribute to educational resources hence they would work, hand in hand, in
promoting internal efficiency of educational system by eradicating those factors that would
lead to absenteeism of their children from school.
v. Finally, although the focus of this current study was Uganda, the findings provide an
important reference material for those implementing similar policy or intending to replicate
USE policy.
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2.0 Literature Review
This section examines and summarizes the literature that relate to study. The literature was obtained
from secondary sources such as; text books, journals, research papers and reports.
2.1.0 Absenteeism Defined
Absenteeism, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary means chronic absence. In the context of
the school it is the habitual or intentional failure from going to school. Absenteeism cannot be
denied because every now and then, students may miss some school activities and lessons and it
becomes a problem if the student is away from school for many days. According to Balfanz &
Byrnes, (2012); chronic absenteeism is typically based on total days of school missed, including
both excused and unexcused absences. The authors add that, chronic absenteeism is often defined
as missing 10 percent or more of school days; in practical terms this translates into 18 days a year;
on the other hand missing 20 percent or more of school, 40 or more days, is defined as severely or
excessively chronically absent. In this regard, chronic absenteeism is not the same as truancy.
Thus, truancy is typically defined as a certain number or certain frequency of unexcused absences
as suggested by, Balfanz & Byrnes, (2012). However, the State Board of Education (2013) states
that; a student is considered to be “in attendance” if present at his/her assigned school, or an activity
sponsored by the school (e.g., field trip), for at least half of the regular school day. Therefore, a
student who is serving an out-of-school suspension or expulsion should always be considered
absent. The State Board of Education, (2013) adopted definitions for excused and unexcused
absences for use by schools and districts in order to implement the statutory policies and procedures
concerning truants, and the reporting of truancy offers the three forms students’ absenteeism:
2.1.1 Excused Absences
A student’s absence from school shall be considered excused if written documentation of the reason
for the absence has been submitted within ten school days of the student’s return to school and
meets the following criteria:
A. For absences one through nine, a student’s absences from school are considered excused when
the student’s parent/guardian approves such absence and submits appropriate documentation; and
B. For the tenth absence and all absences thereafter, a student’s absences from school are
considered excused for the following reasons:
1. Student illness (All student illness absences must be verified by an appropriately licensed
medical professional to be deemed excused, regardless of the length of absence);
2. Student’s observance of a religious holiday;
3. Death in the student’s family or other emergency beyond the control of the student’s family
such as: family member who is very ill and close to dying, student’s home is lost to fire or
eviction, family’s home being quarantined, natural disaster, a student who is a parent and
whose child needs to go to the hospital, or a family member’s military deployment or return
from deployment. Some unexpected absences will not qualify as an emergency include:
staying home to meet the plumber or other tradesman, routine childcare of a younger child
by the student, or opportunity to work an extra shift at afterschool job.
4. Mandated court appearances (additional documentation required such as a police summons,
a notice to appear, a subpoena, a signed note from a court official);
5. The lack of transportation that is normally provided by a school other than the one the
student attends (no parental documentation is required for this reason); or
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6. Extraordinary educational opportunities pre-approved by district or school administrators
and in accordance with Connecticut State Department of Education guidance must meet the
following criteria: The opportunity must be educational in nature; it must have a learning
objective related to the student’s course work or plan of study; it must be an opportunity not
ordinarily available to the student; it must be grade and developmentally appropriate; and
the content of the experience must be highly relevant to the student.
2.1.2 Unexcused Absences
A student’s absence from school shall be considered unexcused unless they meet one of the
following criteria: The absence meets the definition for an excused absence (including
documentation requirements); and the absence meets the definition of a disciplinary absence.
2.1.3 Disciplinary Absences
Absences that are the result of school or district disciplinary action are excluded from these
definitions. It is important to note that while the first nine absences in a school year can be deemed
excused for any reason the parent or guardian provides, the 10th and each subsequent absence
establish a more stringent and specific set of reasons for the absence to qualify as excused. The
figure 2 offers a visual tool to help determine if an absence is excused or unexcused. In cases where
a student’s extended absence crosses levels, the rules should be applied as if there were two separate
absences, one under Level 1 and the other under Level 2. For example, if a student is absent for
five days on a family vacation and those absences represent numbers seven through 11, absences
seven, eight, and nine would fall under Level 1 rules and can be accepted as excused; absences 10
and 11 would fall under Level 2 rules and would not be considered excused.
Figure 2: The Decision Flow Chart Showing the Excused or Unexcused Absence
Source: Adopted from the State Board of Education, April 2013
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2.2 Causes of Students’ Absenteeism in Secondary Schools
Periodic studies and anecdotal observations in many countries show that ‘enrolled’ students are
frequently not in schools. These are sometimes caused by the following factors:
Balfanz & Byrnes, (2012) assert illness as the major cause of student absenteeism in secondary
schools. Annual colds, flu, and assorted other childhood ailments clearly contribute to school
absenteeism, but they are not the genesis of chronic absenteeism. In their most recent federal
survey, whose results indicate fewer than 6 percent of children miss more than 11 days due to
illness or injury. The authors further state that, acute health conditions are fortunately rare, and there
are few chronic conditions that cannot be appropriately managed to enable school attendance. In
practice, however, particularly in high-poverty areas, the medical care needed to enable students
with chronic conditions, such as asthma, to attend school regularly are not always available at the
scale and intensity required, (Balfanz & Byrnes, 2012). This study agrees with Ubogu as cited by
Shahzada, et al., (2011); whose findings identify illness, permitted leave, voluntary absenteeism, as
the common forms/causes of absenteeism. In addition, Mervilde, (1981) also reveals that; family
health or financial concerns, poor school environment, drug and alcohol use, transportation
problems, and differing community attitudes towards education are all conditions that can cause a
child not to attend school. This kind of situation is not conducive for a child study. Therefore, the
concern of this study is to establish whether students’ absenteeism is attributed to the same factor or
not and find its percentage level in Uganda.
In addition, Balfanz & Byrnes, (2012) says; family obligations also make some students not go to
school. As children enter early adolescence, family responsibilities can keep them from school. In
high poverty environments, young adolescent girls sometimes provide emergency day care for
younger siblings or are responsible for getting younger children to school. This rhyme well with
Wadesango, et al., (2011) study which found that; students experience absenteeism that has a socio-
economic character which makes them to seek for part-time employment, general upkeep, tuition
fees, and renting fees instead of applying themselves fully to their studies. Plank, et al, as cited by
Balfanz & Byrnes, (2012) adds that; there is a growing evidence of even young adolescents taking
on elder care responsibilities in single parent, multi generational households. Adolescents,
moreover, are sometimes pulled into helping with the family business or working to enable family
or personal survival. In other cases, they are compelled or lured into illegal activities. Students who
become involved in the juvenile justice system then often miss additional days of schools while
being detained, going to court, and transitioning back into school. It is against this background that,
this empirical study is sought to investigate the main family obligations deterring students from
attending classes regularly in USE schools in Uganda.
Williams, (2000) mentions that; schools, their curricula, and the strength of sanctions against
chronic absenteeism are also contributing causes to students’ absenteeism in schools. Kilpatrick,
1996; Lotz & Lee, 1999; Khazzaka, 1997, assert that; lack of challenging/interesting course work
and curriculum are also reasons for student non-attendance. In support, Fleming, (1995) study,
alludes that, the major reasons given by students for non-attendance at lessons were poor teaching
(23%), timing of the lesson (23%) and poor quality of the lesson content (9%). Teasley, (2004) also
asserts that students that have poor or conflicting relationships with teachers will avoid school in
order to avoid their teachers. Thus, this research study is therefore concerned to find the percentage
level of the teacher cause factor of student absenteeism in Uganda.
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In another study by Lotz, et al and Dryburgh as cited by Williams, (2000), addressing truancy
behavior, the researcher reveals the desire to participate in hedonistic activities and socialization
with peers away from school provide other explanations for high absenteeism. Wadesango, et al.,
(2011) also alludes that, the motivation for their absenteeism from classes was the need to be with
their friends and peers. Furthermore, Reid, (2005) asserts that, truant individuals are influenced by
their peers not to attend school and encourage peers to engage in activities outside of the school
with them. It is hoped that the findings of the present study will determine the level of peers
influence on absenteeism from school.
According to Unger et al, (1997), students who participate in co-operative work experiences
actually have a higher rate of absenteeism. While the cause for this occurrence is not conclusive, the
researchers point out two possible explanations that is: students who already exhibit absenteeism
might be attracted to the programs in order to leave school and thus have more days of non-
attendance; and students in co-operative programs might disassociate themselves more from the
school setting since they are experiencing the world of work, and older students who participate
may have access to their own transportation and find it easier to be absent. This finding is in
agreement with Wadesango, et al., (2011) who further states that; students attendance are
sometimes affected as they had to fulfill their work related obligations and provides for their needs
since they are from poor family background. Therefore, this research is sought to bring conclusion
on how co-operative work causes student absenteeism in Uganda.
Furthermore, students absent themselves because of factors ranging from poor teaching styles by
teachers, boring teachers, lessons being too long, and the teacher shows favoritism to certain
students as critical lecturer characteristics that predispose them towards absenteeism or non-
attendance, as suggested by Wadesango, et al., (2011). These findings are consistent with findings
made by Williams, (1999) and Weller, (1996) in respect of education in Britain. Their studies
revealed that demeaning teacher attitudes often lead to school avoidance by students. Wadesango, et
al., (2011) says, many students do not attend core learning sessions due to other pressing study
related activities that they will be doing. The authors mentioned several activities that are having a
bearing on students’ non-attendance for lectures, chief among them; being the need to work on
assignments, completing assigned projects, researching in the library, preparing for presentations
and studying for pending tests. Therefore, much as they may like to attend their lectures or related
learning sessions, they end up not able to do so due to competing educational issues that demand
attention. However, Durden & Ellis, (2003) found that class attendance and motivation were
related; and they notes that if motivation is not controlled for, the effect of absence from class on
performance may be overstated.
Shahzada, et al., (2011) argued that; harsh school rules and regulations could cause absenteeism that
is; corporal punishment, families where students prepare themselves for school and parent to work.
In addition, in an article by Clea McNeely and colleagues in the Journal of School Health (2004),
the Add Health study found that when schools have harsh or punitive discipline policies, students
feel less connected to school. However, it was unclear whether the more restrictive school policies
are a response to a high number of disconnected students and their behavior problems, or whether
punitive discipline policies alienate students from school. Balfanz & Byrnes, (2012) study also
reveals that, students who are forced to leave school, either through suspension, expulsion, or being
sent to an alternative school, are not likely to increase their connectedness to or engagement with
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school. The research study therefore, assessed the extent to which harsh school rules and regulations
could cause absenteeism in schools.
Lotz & Lee, (1999), asserts that, mostly of the adolescents today receive less supervision than in the
past. The contributing factors to chronic absenteeism involve parental and school-based
responsibility. In many cases, parents actually condone the absence by ignoring excuses when no
valid reason is apparent for their children’s absence from school, Kilpatrick, (1996); Stickney &
Miltenberger, (1996). In contrary, Williams, (1999) says, forcing older students to remain in school
when they are not motivated will only increase their absenteeism.
Others avoid school for lack of clean or appropriate clothes, Balfanz & Byrnes, (2012). Sometimes
it is rain, snow or cold combined with the lack of the necessary clothing, especially for students who
take public transportation with multiple connections. Balfanz & Byrnes, further stipulates that; poor
planning, family needs, or unpredictable transportation lead to students being late and they stay
away from school altogether to avoid the hassle and sometimes the sanctions associated with
tardiness. King & Bernstein, (2001) points out that, students’ psychological traits have an enormous
influence over their daily decisions regarding whether to attend or skip school. Since this findings
was from other countries, it prompted the researcher to conduct a similar study in Uganda to
investigate whether what has been said by the above authors are really the contributing factors to
students absenteeism in USE schools in Uganda.
According to Enomoto, (1997), when students perceive that teachers do not care enough to follow
up on absences, their motivation for attendance is not high. Lotz & Lee, (1999) corroborates;
students negative self-image and low self-esteem as reasons for non-attendance. In addition,
Balfanz & Byrnes, (2012) postulates that, students choose not to attend, either because they or their
parents or guardian do not see the value in school attendance or they have something else they
would rather be doing; they have the agency and ability to skip school to do it since they are not
being deterred by anything specific. Chang & Romero, (2008) research findings elaborate that,
choosing not to attend school on a regular basis begins early in a child’s formal education when
some parents do not yet see the importance of their child being in school every day. For others, it
takes a while to establish a family routine that enables regular school attendance. By conducting this
study, the researcher is set to find out interest from parents or guardian is the one causing them
absent themselves.
3.0 Methodology
This section presents the methodology that was used to conduct the study. Descriptive cross
sectional survey, which is concerned with describing the characteristics of an event, community or
region, providing data about the population or item being studied by only describing the who, what,
how, when and where of a situation at a given time and providing a systematic description that is as
factual and as accurate as possible, Amin, (2005). The study also employed both qualitative and
quantitative approaches/methods. A quantitative approach was adopted in order to allow the
researcher to gather more precise and quantifiable information on the causes and effects of
absenteeism whist the qualitative methodology was also appropriate to this study because it allowed
the researchers to get the data directly from the subjects themselves by sitting with the respondents
and hear their views, voices, perceptions and expectations in detail. Thus, the researcher recognized
several nuances of attitude and behavior that could escape researchers using other methods.
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3.1 The Population and Sample Size
The population for this study was one thousand (1000) drawn from 17 out of 36 USE schools in the
four districts of Serere, Ngora, Soroti and Kumi comprised of 07, 04, 03 and 03 USE schools
respectively all are located in North Eastern Uganda. The study covered a sample of 278
respondents drawn from the population; this is consistent with Krejcie & Morgan, (1970) sample
size determination criteria. The study used both purposive and stratified sampling to select the
sample. The main instrument that was used to solicit for information was the questionnaire. Self-
administered questionnaires with open- ended and closed questions were used for data collection.
Research Assistant was used to distribute the questionnaires. The number of returned questionnaires
was 226 giving a response rate at (81.3%). Interviews were also held with some of the students,
District Education Offers, Political and CSOs leaders, Teachers and parents. Through the use of
interviews, the interviewer was able to elaborate on issues and questions as well as clarifying the
meaning of statements, answers or questions that may not have been clear to the interviewee. Semi-
structured interviews were conducted because the researchers wanted the respondents to give their
detailed views, opinions and perceptions with regard to causes and effects of student absenteeism.
The field data was statistically analyzed using descriptive statistics and narrative summary analyses.
Furthermore, in this study; confidentiality ethic was adhered by using secret codes for all interview
transcripts and identity of the participants were concealed. The research was therefore conducted
with respect and concern for the dignity and welfare of the informants.
4.0 Results and Discussions of the Findings
This section presents the results of the findings using a statistical table.
4.1 Causes of Students’ Absenteeism in USE Schools in Uganda
The study shows that, the causes of students’ absenteeism in Universal Secondary Education (USE)
Schools in Uganda are un excused absences which is responsible for 64.3% of the total students’
absenteeism in the school while 35.5% are excused and they include: Lack of scholastic requirements,
illness or disease, loss of parent or close relative, taking care of the sick, and bad weather as shown in
Figure 3. This implies that the 64.3% are the student/parent/government factors which need to be
addressed. Therefore, the government authorities should work with the donors, teachers, CSOs,
business community and the media to sensitize parents on the importance of education and the need
for student attendance.
Figure 3: Causes of Students’ Absenteeism in USE Schools in Uganda
Responses Frequency Percent Rank
Order
Lack of scholastic requirements e.g. fees, uniforms, books, pens, etc.
158
20.7%
1
st
Household work like; farming, fetching water, construction, cooking
94
12.4%
2
Lack of in
terest in Education
b
y both the student and parent
74
9.7%
3
rd
Hunger at school/Lack of mid
-
day meals
68
8.9%
4
th
Sexual harassment at school
60
7.9%
5
th
Long distance to school
58
7.6%
6
th
Illness or Disease
57
7.5%
7
th
Loss of parent or close relat
ive
49
6.4%
8
th
Peer influence
39
5.1%
9
th
Harsh punishment at school
35
4.6%
10
th
International Journal of Education and Research Vol. 2 No. 10 October 2014
427
Poor performance in class
32
4.2%
11
th
Teacher factor i.e. teacher absenteeism, qualification, teaching skills
22
2.9%
12
th
Taking care of the sick
12
1.6%
13
th
Bad
weather
06
0.8
%
14
th
Weak policy on absenteeism
05
0.7%
15
th
TOTAL
764
100%
---
Source: Derived from Primary Data Analysis of Instrument; April, 2014
Lack of Scholastic Materials/Requirements
The study findings show that 20.7% of the students absent themselves because they lack scholastic
requirements/materials such as; books, pens, uniforms, calculators, and additional fees contribution
like; field work fee, school bus contribution, and PTA (Development Fund). These extra fees are a
barrier to students’ attendance. During the study, the researcher found that in Kumi district year
2013; three quarters (75%) of the students were sent home in one of the schools at the district for
not paying development fund/ PTA contribution for the bus. In an interview with a parent in Kumi
district says; “The Bus contribution was agreed by parents in the meeting which was attended by
different district leaders. Those whose children are parading to police, RDCs office are wasting
their time because the decision was made before the introduction of USE programme …”
Contributing to the same debate, one parent had this to say in Serere District; “Additional school
fees can be a problem because some of us are peasants and when it is not the season of harvesting
we fail to raise money for scholastic materials and fees. Moreover in the village they make us pay a
lot. So the USE program is not helping us.” In addition, another female parent in Ngora district
lamented that; “Despite the abolition of school fees, other fees are to high as compared to school
fees for instance the price of school uniform is between Ush. 85,000-135,000 and yet the same can
be got from the market at less than Ush. 50,000.” This implies that parents are feeling the pinch in
the amount charged by schools uniform and development fund as a burden. This finding agrees with
Mervilde, (1981) whose study also reveals that; family health or financial concerns are all
conditions that can cause a child not to attend school.
Household work
From figure 3 it is evident that household work contributes to 12.4% of the student absenteeism in
the USE schools in Uganda. Students who are homeless and staying with friends, relatives are more
absent from school than those staying with their biological parents for instance in rural areas; they
have to wake up very early in the morning and go to the garden, fetch enough water for use, teeter
animals (cattle, goats, pigs), then prepare for school depending on the time the task is accomplished
and sometimes are told to remain to do the construction work. While urban students have tasks of
washing utensils, mopping the house and preparing breakfast for family before leaving for school.
According to the one of the Education Officer in Soroti district explained that; “Agriculture is the
back-bone of the peasant economy, and during the rainy season all efforts are geared towards food
production for survival.” This was supported by a one member from Kyere Citicen Parliament
(KCP) in Serere district said; “Some students are heading families and therefore, at most times they
have to fulfill family needs before going to school.” In addition a Student from Serere district also
added that; “At least every Friday I have to be out of school by going to fishing to earn some money
to cater for my breakfast, lunch, and personal requirements like exercise books, pens, calculators,
school uniforms, shoes as my parents pay for fees.” These reasons are critical because it will lead
to poor performance in class, drop out and waste of government fund and as a result it will affect
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the government objectives of increasing access to quality secondary education. Thus, study
conforms partly to Balfanz & Byrnes, (2012) because they mentioned that family obligations make
some students not go to school without mentioning the reasons and level of prevalence in their
study.
Lack of interest in Education
This was ranked third with a total percentage of 9.7 as thought by the respondents during the study.
The respondents urged that students with un excused absenteeism have no interest in being at school
since their parents also do support. In an interview with a Senior Education Assistant in Ngora
district she explains that; There are clans /families who do not value education and they enjoy
staying with their children together at home regardless of their behavior. Some parents don’t asked
their children why they are absent from school even if they have paid all the school fees,
development fees, provided the child with all the scholastics materials; a bicycle for transport and
lunch in the restaurant and such children still keep of school and no question about it. In a similar
interview in Serere district another Female teacher that; “The problem is not only to the clan/family
but it is hereditary. I margin, some students even divert their fees for procuring mobile phone,
radio, latest fashioned clothes, sports betting, watching videos/football, internet, playing pool,
cards, drinking; and when sent home by school administration for fees, they end up hiding in their
rental rooms. At worse, some parents do not visit these children in their rental places, to find out
whether the child is at school or not, and do not ask for the report card, circular letter(s) at the end
of the term for accountability from the child.” In the time of this study, one male parent was
embarrassed by the daughter he rented the room; on his visitation to the daughter, he met a mature
man coming out of the daughters’ rental room with a towel; when he called the daughter to come
out, she could not and as a result he turned his bicycle back home with total shame to the extent he
could not call for help from neighbor, Local council or police. Contributing to the same debate, the
senior officer from the Public Affairs Centre of Uganda a leading CSO in Teso and Karamoja
region had this to say in relation to lack of interest in education; “The society has collapsed. In old
days, a child was the property of the clan; and discipline was a society’s role but today a relative or
close friend can see a child/student being taken to the lodge will not act. Why? Immediately you
take action to discipline the child, in a fewest hours you will find yourself in probation office or
police cell for violating the child’s right to freedom.” He added that parents do not focus on long
term vision but they tell their children that, “My role is to give you education, other things it is up to
you.” That is why even the learners are not focused because they do not know why they are at
school. For instance, some parents find the solution of dealing with the stubborn child as taking
him/her to school; and as a result the child will be at school with no goal but thinking of the
holidays. This finding is in agreement with that of Balfanz & Byrnes, (2012) which states that,
students choose not to attend, either because they or their parents or guardian do not see the value in
school.
Hunger at school
Hunger at school was ranked fourth as one of the cause of students’ absenteeism in USE schools.
This implies that 8.9% of the total absenteeism in a school is caused by hunger or lack of mid-day
meals. This is because some families are trapped with poverty and have no income to pay for meals
at school, or a student(s) did not have a decent super/meals hence making the body weak and as a
result a student can’t work or go to school because of the long time s/he will be at school on empty
stomach and yet class needs concentration. According to one of the Female teacher in Kumi district
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she decried that; “Hunger does not only affect the student, even teachers. She added that afternoon
lessons are not always effective you find a hungry teacher is teaching hungry students.” As a result,
the students end up not understanding the lesson because of ineffective teaching hence will fail in
the examinations. In Wadesango, et al., (2011) study which found that; students experience
absenteeism that has a socio-economic character such as poverty, hunger which makes them to seek
for part-time employment instead of applying themselves fully to their studies.
Sexual harassment at school
Sexual harassment was ranking fifth (7.9%) in the four districts in the ratio of 4:3:3:1for Kumi,
Serere, Soroti and Ngora district respectively. This implies that the school is not a safe place for
children anymore; teachers’ student relationship is very high. In the sampled schools, students
emphasized that at least there are two or more teachers having sexual relations with students they
teach. On probing why? They said, “These older men lure young girls into sexual relations with
money, leaking examinations for them, food or other favours like perfumes, mobile phones for
communication, pads, and outings.” In an interview with a mother of two daughters in secondary
school in Soroti district she narrated that; “Yah, our children are sexually abused by those teachers
who do not hold professional code of conduct and respect for their wives. They have turned their
guns on the young girls whom they should be calling their daughters.” This kind of character does
not motivate students to attend classes conducted by such incredible teacher(s), which demean the
school and its leadership; while putting the students’ health, life and future in jeopardy because of
the likely complications such as; HIV/AIDS infections, pregnancies which sometimes the girl(s)
is/are lured to abort forgetting of the complications associated with abortion such as; loss of weight,
death, barrenness, and later rejection from man/family members. It is important to note that, this is
the first empirical study which established sexual harassment in schools as one of the top five
causes of students’ absenteeism in Uganda accounting to 7.9% of the total absenteeism among
female students. This finding conform with Teasley, (2004) who asserts that; students that have
poor or conflicting relationships with teachers will avoid school in order to avoid their teachers.
Long distance to school
Despite the increased number of secondary schools both government and private implementing
USE programme for instance from 1,647(904 government; 743 private) in 2012 to 1,919(1,024
government and 879 private) in 2013 long distance to school is still a challenge to students
accounting to 7.6% of students’ absenteeism. Some students still cover eight (8) Kilo-meters daily
on foot to reach their schools for instance in one of the sub-counties in Serere District, all the three
(3) secondary schools in the sub-county are located in one parish with two implementing USE
programme having three primary schools while the rest of the seven (7) parishes have eleven
government primary schools with no single secondary school. These challenges generated mixed
results from the schools and parents that were visited. Some teachers, politicians and parents were
of the view that; “… Students move very long distance to school, which makes them tired. It takes
long for them to settle in class and they may not concentrate on school attendance. They also
frequently move outside the class due to hunger, tiredness. The government should do something
about the situation.” Even if they access the school, their performance is affected by the time they
spend in the morning and evening travelling to and from school. Contributing to the same debate,
one of the teachers emphasised that; “Although my child has no problem with the distance to the
school because we live close to the school, distance to school is a big issue as far as school
attendance is concerned for those who come from far. Students reach school tired and the
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concentration is low. When it rains the problem gets much worse. Some students may not be able to
go to school because they can’t withstand rain. Girls specifically get disturbed regularly by idle
men.” This situation was also revealed by Mbozi, (2008) in her findings. The author stated that
some learners covered up to ten (10) kilometers walking to school. This made them too tired to
concentrate in class. They equally learnt few subjects each day because they most of the
times reached school late which made them perform poorly at school.
Illness or Disease
During the study, the most illness/diseases being mentioned by the respondents were; girl’s
ministration period, HIV/AIDS, malaria, flu and cough, asthma, sickle cell, snake bites, and
epilepsy was ranked seventh representing (7.5%) as one of the causes of students’ absenteeism in
USE schools. According to the Education Minister in 2012 she said in her report that, “The
HIV/AIDS prevalence in both teachers and students is still looming and is considered to be one of
the causes that are contributing to raising dropout rates, absenteeism, repetition and poor
performance,” New Vision, Friday, July 06, 2012. This finding is in agreement with the study
conducted by Balfanz & Byrnes, (2012) and Ubogu, (2004) who identifies illness, permitted leave,
voluntary absenteeism, as the common causes of absenteeism.
Loss of Parent or Close Relative
This was ranked eighth and contributes to 6.4% of the total absenteeism in the school. In one of the
schools in Kumi district, the school lost nine (9) of its members between January and August, 2014
(that is teaching staff, supportive staff, PTA member and a student who drown in the lake). This is a
very disastrous situation with serious psychological and emotional effects which leads to; lose of
moral in teaching, backlog due to the un covered lessons, poor performance, misuse of school
resources for instance money and furniture, and running short of teachers which will lead to urgent
recruitment of part-time teacher which sometimes may not fit in the shoes of the diseased or
become rigid to adjust on the time table and this, makes the problem un answered.
Peer Influence
Peer influence was ranked 9th accounting for 5.1% of the total absenteeism in the school/class. As
the saying goes that; “Birds of the same feather do flock together.” Similarly students with low
ambitions and interest tend to dodge going to school and remain drinking, watching video, sport
betting, prostitution/ trading for sex as a way of making money earlier and looking at studying as a
waste of time. Some have been influenced by promises of getting better jobs/scholarships and ended
up being trafficked in sexual or forced labour. The Head of Department in one of the schools in
Kumi District urged that; “Female students are left to rent alone, given less attention and they can
decide whether to come to school or not and more so, they try to catch up with the urban life.” In
support Wadesango, et al., (2011) studies also found that, the motivation for their absenteeism from
classes was the need to be with their friends and peers which equally rhythms with, Reid, (2005)
whose findings reveals that; truant individuals are influenced by their peers to not attend school and
encourage peers to engage in activities outside of the school with them.
Harsh Punishment at School
From the findings, the researcher found harsh punishment as the tenth (4.6%) causes of students’
absenteeism in USE schools in Uganda. The practice is still done in many schools especially in rural
areas in the four (4) districts still practice corporal punishment. According to students, they urged
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that, some teachers do not listen to students’ reason of coming late even if a student has a genuine
reason, the only answer is “late is late” go down and you are canned the way s/he wishes and, or
given to clean the school compound for two/three hours; dig the ant hill till you remove the Quill,
and as a result a student will opt to stay away from school on those days when they are very late.
This result rhythm well with Shahzada, et al., (2011) who admit that corporal punishment could
cause absenteeism in school.
Poor Performance in Class
Poor performance is class causes 4.2% of students’ absenteeism as thought by the respondents and
it was ranked eleventh among the causes in schools. The could be as a result of lack; lack of
motivation, poor learning environment, dislike of school, having no aspirations, poor family
educational back-ground, inadequate learning materials, age and large classes. According to Lotz &
Lee, (1999); students’ negative self-image and low self-esteem are reasons for non-attendance
which supports the findings.
Teacher Factor
The study also reveals that teacher factor such as; teacher absenteeism, qualification, and teaching
skills attributes to 2.9% of the total absenteeism and ranked twelfth among the causes of students’
absenteeism in schools. Schools with low quality/standard have more absenteeism rate as compared
to schools with high standard. This is attributed by both teachers and students factor for instance,
schools with low standards do not mind about student coming late in class, being out of school, and
as a result a student will attend and leave school at the time s/he wishes. This was cited in rural
schools in all the districts surveyed. One parent Serere District emphasized that; “There are schools
which have failed to pass students in first grade for more than three years and they celebrate
second grade as the best in National Examinations.” This case is different from urban and peri-
urban schools, since most of them have got gates; and if a student enters, s/he will come out at the
time the gate is re-opened or when the student has been granted permission to move out; however
late comers will remain out till lunch time (1:00pm Ugandan time). According to Kilpatrick, 1996
Lotz & Lee, 1999; Khazzaka, 1997, supports that; lack of challenging/ interesting course work and
curriculum were reasons for student non-attendance while on the other hand Fleming, (1995) study,
alludes that, the major reasons given by students for non-attendance at lessons were; poor teaching,
timing of the lesson and poor quality of the lesson content. Other causes of students’ absenteeism
were; taking care of the sick, bad weather and weak policy on absenteeism which were ranked 13th
(2.9%), 14th (1.6%) and 15th (0.7%) respectively.
5.0 Conclusion
Students’ absenteeism is real in USE schools and its causes should not be looked at lightly; early
intervention in regards to attendance will make a difference for those students who are moving
towards disengagement from school and as a result the begin practicing social evil in the society.
Therefore, it is very important for the government, policy makers, school administrators, media,
parents, and the general public to accurately monitor, identify early and intervene about this silent
killer. The silent killer has long term effects to the student(s) and the nation, that is: leads to school
dropout hence a blockage of students academic growth; poor performance in examinations due to
low syllabi coverage; a waste of tax payers money; deteriorating performance which mounts to
open criticism hence making the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government un popular
with its own initiative; leads to increase in crimes because of being attracted to the outside
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environment full of bad elements practicing activities such as; drug abuse, gambling (playing cards,
sports betting, pick pocketing), commercial sex, fornication leading to early marriages and
HIV/AIDS risks which is a result of perceiving being at school as academic punishment. In
addition, they become a burden to the society because of unemployment since one has no
employable skills and it will also spoil the reputation of the school because of failure rate which
makes students to transfer to another school with better academic performance. The empirical study
also shows that; the average rate of students’ absenteeism is 23.18% in day schools as compared to
3.25% in boarding schools. The mainly affected categories include; children from poor families,
children living far from school, female students, orphans, disables, male students, and children
living with one parent which could be a result of divorced or separation or death as thought by the
respondents during the study. From the data analysis, the ratio of male to female students’
absenteeism is 1:3 in the studied districts in Uganda.
6.0 Recommendations
Attendance is a key driver of the nation’s achievement, high school graduation, and college
attainment. Thus, as a nation we must act, to ensure that our students are ready, willing and able to
attend school every day. Their future, and hence our future, depends on it. It is against this
background that the researcher offers the following practical and policy recommendations for the
improvement of students’ absenteeism in secondary schools:
The government through the MoES should make sure that parents understand their responsibility of
contributing towards the development of the school and their children through paying required
development fees which is always agreed by themselves in the Parent and Teachers’ Association
(PTA) meeting. This will eased the management of school than confusing parents that; USE is free
and no child should be sent out for non-payment and yet the contribution by the government is little
that is; the government pays the schools an annual grant of up to Ush. 123,000 for each student
under the programme in government aided schools while Ush. 141,000 for students in private
schools under Public Private Partnership (PPP) spread over three school terms. It is also important
to note that, the government consideration of increasing the fees for each student in government
aided school under USE from shillings 41,000 to 58,000 and from 47,000 to 70,000 for private
schools this still does not cover the scholastics materials and parents still have to contribute towards
schools development by paying PTA fees hence, politics should be separated from education if
quality education is to be realized in Uganda.
Furthermore, since the majority of parents are still pinched with the costs of scholastics and the
PTA contributions, the researcher recommends the government to subsidize taxes on the scholastics
materials such as books, pens, calculators, and school uniforms or provide them free by
consolidating it in the grant since the majority of the parent are peasant who cannot even afford two
meals a day and giving money for books, pens, calculators, mathematical sets is like wasting money
and yet there are other pressing needs like food, medical, and weeding the gardens. Thus, this
initiative will enhance the enrollment while at the same time increasing on retention of students in
school since parents will be left with a mandatory task of providing meals. This initiative will also
reduce on the “ghosts” schools and students.
Government should improve the household income of the citizens through effective appropriate
implementations of its poverty alleviation programmes like the National Agricultural Advisory
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433
Services, Youth Livelihood Programme, Skilling Uganda and SACCOs by targeting
parents/guardians whose children are in the USE schools. This will improve on the income levels of
the household and as a result it will enable parents obtain what to sell so as to pay fees, and obtain
the scholastics materials. To students who are bread earners in the family, the researcher
recommends that; the government, community, CSOs, development agencies and well to do
individuals should provide assistance to such students in form of food, clothing, books and required
to enabled them achieve their dreams.
Remember that, hunger does not cause only absenteeism but drop out as well. Therefore, the
researcher recommends the government and development partners to support school feeding
programme in the last ten districts with low attendance and performance in national examinations
while giving priority to public/government aided schools but not private schools even if it is under
PPP. In this, the community will be tasked to provide firewood, water, the cooking utensils, a
service of a cook, shelter as a way of monitoring the programmes implementation and this will
foster accountability and transparency while weekly report should be submitted to the MoES for
verification and next terms planning. Thus, programme will help to increase students’ enrolment,
access and retention to school which the government has failed to meet in the last six years of the
programme implementation making student repetition and drop out at about 10% which is high
while student absenteeism is at 23.2% the number described by State Board of Education (2013)
severe or chronic and need to be addressed.
The government through the Ministry of Education and Sports should not ignore the community
and students’ out cry on the increasing rate of teacher students’ sexual relationship in the USE
schools. This kind of conduct could be the way of undermining the USE policy; on the other hand
could lead to early pregnancies among female students hence dropping out of the programme/and
transferring of student by parents to private schools hence leaving the programme being abused.
For a meantime, the government should continue with its programme of constructing seed schools
in rural sub counties taking Olio, Labor and Atiira sub counties in Serere district which has no
single USE school and at worse; Olio and Labor Sub Counties in Serere, Kumi sub-county in Kumi,
Gweri in Soroti, and Ngora sub-county in Ngora district has no single secondary school. These will
reduce congestion of students in class and will enhance effective teaching and learning; reduce on
the absenteeism level because of distance; save students from harassments by preys/vultures (“Boda
bodas,” businessmen, drunkards and rapists) on their way; limiting the chance of dropping out after
primary level; and above all it will increases access to free basic education to more learners hence
achieving the Education for All (EFA) targets. However, the most workable approach of addressing
the problem of long distance would be introduction of Open Schooling System in Uganda. The
system refers to “the physical separation of the school level learner from the teacher, and the use of
unconventional teaching methodologies, and information and communications technologies to
bridge the separation and provide the education and training.” The system has already been
practiced in countries with access problems like South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana among other
African countries. The system is found to be more economical because it cuts the cost of recruiting
too many teachers, supervision, constructions drastically; provide opportunities to the school
leavers, dropouts, working adults, housewives, and learners from distance and remote areas; and
reach out to those who could not complete/continue their schooling due to socio-cultural and
economic reasons.
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The research also recommends that; schools be held accountable for improving attendance. For
instance, attendance and chronic absence rates should be publicly availed and reported to the
District Education Officer. In addition, the Ministry of Education and Sports should work with Civil
Society Organisations (CSOs), district education stakeholders and state agencies like the Residential
District Commissioners (RDCs), District Internal Security Officers (DISOs), and Gombolola
Internal Security Officers (GISOs) to collect weekly student level attendance data. This will help to
reduce on the “ghost” students, schools and teachers due to routine monitoring hence saving the tax
payers money instead of remitting 100% of the total funds for the students and yet students in
attendance are 80%. Thus, through this routine report will enabled the MoES to establish the actual
student data instead of rallying on estimates where head teachers inflate students number in order to
get more funds from the government.
Due to lack of interest, there is need to improve in teaching methods for instance, if instruction is
imparted by means of modern methods and techniques keeping in view the interests, and
needs of the students there is no reasons why there will not be any improvement in the attitude of
the students toward studies and the school and their attendance. The old methods of lecturing,
subjecting the students to arduous exercises and meaningless drill and memorizing of useless items
of instruction have no place in the modern school because instead of attracting the students such
methods repel them from the school environment. Motivation of students through field-trips, the use
of films, film-strips, records, television, radio and any other audiovisual aids should at least now be
realized by our teachers. In addition, the school building, furniture, facilities of co-curricular
activities, adequate libraries and reading rooms, clean and healthy environment do play an
important role in attracting the students. With all these facilities and attractions the school will
become a place of interest rather than of aversion.
The government, Ministry of Education and Sports, policy makers, practitioners, parents and
students need to carry out their respective roles accordingly. For instance, the government should
improve teachers working conditions so as to boost their motivation with a view that this will have
positive returns in the way they discharge their duties; The district officials and head teachers be
trained in Total Quality Management (TQM) skills; thus, the quality assurance schemes will make
teachers accountable for what they are doing and as a result it will lead to clear improvement of the
programmes judged negatively; Board of Governors (BOG) should approve the policies
contributing to school improvements and facilitate the implementation of such policies; PTA
provides financial assistance where need; Teachers should also meet their targets as teachers by
making learning more realistic; Also parents should inspire children to have interest in education
likewise children should also dance to their tune.
The researcher also recommends the MoES, District officials (District Education Officer and the
team; District Health Team), and school administrators to create school environment friendly to the
sick such as; students with HIV/AIDS, asthma, sickle cell, epilepsy, flu, and girls in their menstrual
period by showing concern and abundant love instead of discriminating. For instance, the health
team should provide information to students about asthma, its effect on student attendance, and
provide strategies to help student(s) learn to better manage the disease (asthma); reducing the
transmission of common illnesses like flu and cough through provision of hand washing facilities
like water tape, tape jerrican and improving the quality of school; the government should extent the
services of SNV of skilling pupils in making sanitary pads to curb female pupils’ absenteeism from
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435
school during menstrual periods to secondary schools since many adolescent girls are in secondary;
the target should be in rural districts in the country; above all the government should scrapped off
taxes on materials like refined cotton, towels and already made pads to increase access to the
sanitary towels by rural girls/women. Finally, physical check-up must be carried out as many
times in a year as possible for students and staff.
5.3 Areas Recommended for Further Research
The following are the areas the researcher has seen prudent for the future research:
The relationship between the District Education Officers and Secondary Schools
Administration;
Teacher qualification and students’ academic performance; and
Effects of students’ absenteeism on students’ academic/school performance
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Above all, we would like to thank God the almighty; without His unlimited love this research paper would
have never seen the light of the day. We would like to thank Prof. OKELLO, Lekoboam Ag. Vice
Chancellor, his predecessor Prof. Kim Young, Management, the Executive of Kumi University Research and
Documentation Centre (KUREDO); fellow researchers; Machyo Jane, Flavia Amayo, William Kalanzi,
Nicholus Aisu, Dralega Olega Henry, Joseph Omara, Tomasi Mutya, Maxwell Oina, David Abala, the
leadership of Serere, Soroti,Ngora and Kumi; the Research Assistants, respondents who contributed in a
special way to this research. Thank you so much for your constant support and encouragement.
Last but not the least, thank to our beloved families for the encouragement, love, and generosity. In particular
the Late Bishop Herbert Nawita who passed on during the period of the study. May his soul rest in peace! I
am (Komakech) equally thankful to the family of the Late Bishop, my beloved mother Florence Adong, dear
wife Christian J. Apairo, loving daughter B.P. Nawita, Florence Adongo, F.R. Adongo, Akol, Richard and
Okello Geofrey. In the same spirit I am (Osuu) grateful to my beloved parents Mr. and Mrs. Egwang
Bonifasio, my dear wife Margret, children Marion, Emmanuel, Patience, Bella; my brothers and sisters most
especially the late Pius who made the first sacrifice to have me at school.
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