Socio-Economic Determinants of Advanced Level subject Choice in Zimbabwe
Author’s Details: (1)Bindu Samuel (2)Chigusiwa Lloyd (3)Lazarus Muchabaiwa (4)Mudavanhu Victoria
The study was undertaken to establish the socioeconomic determinants of A’ level subject choice in Zimbabwe in an effort to understand why there is the low uptake of sciences in Zimbabwean high schools. Using data from over 2300 randomly selected Advanced level students from all provinces and across each of the three main subject specializations, under the Logit and Granger causality methods, we established that students who are more exposed to science environment prior to enrolling by having relatives with a science-related profession or attending a carrier guidance, are more likely to take up sciences. Boys are more likely to take sciences so are those who would have performed well in sciences relative to non-sciences at ordinary level. Children whose tuition is paid by biological parents are more likely to take up sciences at A’ level, so are children from smaller families. Students with either or all of their parents deceased are less likely to take sciences. The results show that those enrolling at boarding schools are more likely to take up sciences than their day school counterparts. Rural students are less likely to take up sciences so are students learning at school with poor prior science pass rate. We recommend collaborative effort from governments, NGOs, industry and tertiary education institutions to improve student’s interest in science. This can be accomplished by undertaking well-timed carrier guidance workshops. More so, the government should improve the quality of schools to improve their ability to teach sciences. This involves improving the quality of both laboratories and teaching staff. Like any investment, uptake of sciences is seen to be heavily dependent on the perceived rate of return, and hence the government should improve employment opportunities for science graduates by resuscitating industry and provide funding for research and development so that students can be inspired by observing successful people from science backgrounds.
KEYWORDS: STEM, Subject choice, Science-based growth
JEL: I25, H75, I21