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Open Access Research article

Prevalence and correlates for school truancy among pupils in grades 7-10: results from the 2004 Zambia Global School-based Health Survey

Adamson S Muula1, Emmanuel Rudatsikira2, Olusegun Babaniyi3, Peter Songolo3 and Seter Siziya4*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Health, College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi

2 School of Community and Environmental Health, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA

3 World Health Organization Country Office, Lusaka, Zambia

4 Department of Community Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:48  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-48

Published: 20 January 2012



There are limited data on the prevalence and associated factors of truancy in southern Africa. Yet truancy should attract the attention of public health professionals, educators and policy makers as it may be associated with adolescent problem behaviours. The objectives of the study were to estimate the prevalence and determine correlates of school truancy among pupils in Zambia.


We used data collected in 2004 in the Zambia Global School-based Health Survey. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to identify factors associated with truancy. A total of 2257 pupils participated in the survey of whom 53.9% were male. Overall 58.8% of the participants (58.1% of males and 58.4% of females) reported being truant in the past 30 days. Factors associated with truancy were having been bullied (AOR = 1.34, 95% CI [1.32, 1.36]), current alcohol use (AOR = 2.19, 95% CI [2.16, 2.23]), perception that other students were kind and helpful (AOR = 1.12, 95% CI [1.10, 1.14]), being male and being from the lowest school grade. Pupils whose parents or guardians checked their homework (AOR = 0.91 95% CI, [0.89, 0.92]) and those who reported parental supervision (AOR = 0.94, 95% CI [0.92-0.95]) were less likely to report being truant.


We found a high prevalence of truancy among pupils in grades 7-10 in Zambia. Interventions aimed to reduce truancy should be designed and implemented with due consideration of the associated factors.