Education and employment transitions: the experiences of young people with caring responsibilities in Zambia

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    Studies of ‘young carers’ in sub-Saharan Africa have increased in recent years. A focus on ‘children’ caring for parents with HIV, and other chronic illnesses, has meant the role of older youth has often been neglected in discussions of caregiving, particularly how caring influences their futures and life transitions. This is despite evidence which suggests that ‘young adults’ (aged 18-24) are more likely than children to undertake informal care work within the family as well as to head households and families in times of illness and death. It is essential therefore to theorize how such experiences shape their transitions to adulthood. Young people in Zambia are under increasing pressure to obtain a good education and employment to support their families and make 'successful' transitions to 'adulthood', whilst in some instances also having to cope with the loss of parents and care for relatives with little external support. This chapter reviews the current literature surrounding ‘youth transitions’ within the geographies of children and youth. It focuses on the role of transitions in Africa, particularly the growing importance of education and securing employment in young people’s expected ‘pathways to adulthood’. It positions this within the context of young caregiving in Zambia and the impact that increased responsibility to care for sick or disabled relatives has on young people as they try to achieve independent adulthood. It concludes that the transition to adulthood for African youth is becoming increasingly uncertain, with the social status of ‘adult’ more difficult to achieve. It recognises that Zambian youth are often caught in a ‘liminal position’ between youth and adulthood and are unable to make the socially expected transitions liked to their age and lifecourse stage (Day and Evans, 2015).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLabouring and learning
    Subtitle of host publicationgeographies of children and young people
    EditorsTatek Abede, Johanna Waters, Tracey Skelton
    ISBN (Print)978-9812870339
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2017

    Publication series

    NameGeographies of Children and Young People


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