North pupils abandon classes for caterpillars

SCHOOL attendance has dropped in rural schools in Northern Province by more than 70 per cent as pupils have deserted class in favour of catching caterpillars.

The caterpillars, which are a seasonal high protein delicacy fetch high amounts of money resulting in parents withdrawing children from class to collect the butterfly larvae in the bush.
An interview with community-based teachers revealed that the rush for the caterpillars by business persons from urban areas had pushed up the price of the Zambian seasonal delicacy.
“You find that people from as far as Kitwe and Lusaka camp in our villages to buy caterpillars and offer cash for five-litre containers of caterpillars.
“So parents want to cash in and resort to withdrawing children from school as free labour,” one of the teachers said in an interview in Kasama.
Northern Province education officer Ngosa Kotati who also confirmed the development said it had become a yearly occurrence with some pupils even missing final examinations.
Teachers based in rural out-posts who spoke on condition of anonymity called on the Ministry of Education to come up with measures to deter parents and pupils from the practice of taking children to the bush to catch caterpillars at the expense of school.