Socio-Economic Factors Influencing Academic Performance of Vulnerable Children in Primary Schools in Kirinyaga County, Kenya
Muriithi, Jennifer Wanjiru
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The central problem of this study was that, despite the good performance of learners in Primary Schools in Kirinyaga Central District, recent literature sources indicate that some children score so high marks in an levels of Primary education while others continually perform poorly in the same levels of Primary education. Factors leading to this disparity have not been well understood hence making it difficult for all children to achieve and transit to high levels at the same rate in Kirinyaga Central District. The purpose of this study was to establish the extent to which socio-economic factors influence academic performance of vulnerable children in Kirinyaga Central District. The study was guided by the following objectives:- to investigate the influence of socio-economic factors on academic performance of vulnerable children in primary schools, establish school based policies that support academic performance of vulnerable children and to determine other strategies that are in place to influence the academic performance of the vulnerable children in primary schools. The study was guided by the social theory by Weber Max (1957). The study adapted a descriptive survey design. The target population comprised 14,064 standard five to eight pupils from 72 primary schools and 72 headteachers from all Primary Schools in Kirinyaga Central District. The study randomly sampled 30 percent of the total number of schools making 20 schools while 10 vulnerable learners from three socio-economic status were purposively sampled from each of the sampled schools with the assistance of the school teachers, leading to a total of 200 children and 20 headteachers. An interview schedule for headteachersand a questionnaire for pupils were used to gather information. Reliability was achieved through piloting and validity through the assistance of University Supervisors as raters. Quantitative data from questionnaires was analyzed through SPSS Programme while qualitative data from the interviews was analyzed thematically and reference to quotes and patterns of words. The findings of the study indicated that socio-economic factors influence the academic performance of vulnerable learners, schools lack strong school based policies and that there are other policies that can assist the vulnerable children perform better in academics in place. The study concluded that socio-economic factors lead to a disparity in academic performance of vulnerable learners. The study recommends that schools should customize policies that can help vulnerable children achieve high grades in academics and have a higher parental involvement so that families and community have a larger responsibility for their children. The results of the study are expected to be an eye opener to school policy makers so that they are able to help all children achieve equally high in academics.