|Dr. Brenda Yamba
Schooling Despite All Odds: Evidence from Lesotho on Female Child Carers who Stayed in School
Melissa Siegel, Katrin Kriz and Louis Volante
The dissertation aimed to examine perceptions of stakeholders in Lesotho, of conditions under which female children who are the primary carers in their households are still able to regularly attend secondary school. The study employed a qualitative research approach to answer the main research question - Why and how do some girl child carers regularly attend secondary school, despite adverse situations?
Children, from time immemorial, have contributed to the caregiving responsibilities in the home. However, when this stretches beyond the normal expectations of domestic chores and becomes more substantial and significant, then this adult role denies children their childhood and deprives them of their rights. Some will however, still attend school, despite facing adverse circumstances.
The findings showed that child carers experienced challenges related to caregiving responsibilities, both at home and at school. Even though child carers devised coping strategies to attend school, the pressure of caring weighed heavily on their minds even while at school. Attending school alone is therefore not sufficient when the quality of learning is compromised. A vision for a better future was the key individual attribute that kept the child in school. External support and a conducive environment within family, school and community all played a role in nurturing this resilience and providing protective and mitigating support that influenced school attendance. There was however no “one size fits all” approach but a combination of factors, that needed to interact with each other for positive outcomes.
My study leads to the following considerations for policy, to better improve the chances of effective quality schooling for child carers: free secondary schooling, teacher training to provide specialized psychological support, in-school peer-support programs, and community programs supporting those that help vulnerable groups. Advocating for free secondary education aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals and the subsequent Education 2030 Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action, which commit to ensuring 12 years of free quality primary and secondary education.