Socio-economic factors associated with retention and graduation rates in the context of tuition waiver fund: Kiambu County, Kenya
Gathuru, Jane Wambui
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Secondary education is an opening to the benefits and opportunities of social and economic development. Demand for acquiring higher levels of education is increasing radically as countries move towards universal primary education, whereas the global Education for All (EFA) effort offers added impetus for the growth and development in secondary education. In the 21st century, secondary education is recognized as the foundation of educational systems. The purpose of the study was to ascertain the socio-economic factors associated with retention and graduation rates in the context of tuition waiver fund in Kiambu County. The aims of the study were to: Ascertain the impact of tuition waiver fund retention and graduation in public secondary schools in Kiambu County; Find out the extent to which parental level of education affects retention and graduation; Find out the effects of parental income on retention and graduation and Find out the influence of home-school relations on retention and graduation in public secondary schools in Kiambu County. The government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Education, may benefit from the research by gaining data on the impact of tuition waiver fund on retention and graduation rates and the socio-economic factors associated with the same. School administrators may gain data to help them understand the challenges faced in management of tuition waiver fund and thus enable them come up with solutions to such problems. The research was cantered on the Classical Liberal Theory of Equal Opportunity introduced by Sherman and Wood (1982). Descriptive research design was used targeting all the principals in the 218 public secondary schools in Kiambu County. The area county Education Officers and QASO officers were also targeted. Stratified sampling was used to select 44 out of 218 schools. Participating schools were stratified according to school category (national, County and CDF schools) and school type (boys only, girls only, mixed day and mixed boarding schools). Another sampling method that was employed is purposive sampling in order to select 44 principals from the sampled schools, two County education officers and two QASO officers, resulting to a total of 48 participants. Principals‘ questionnaires and interview schedules designed for the CEO and QASO were employed as the key tools gathering the anticipated data. Before carrying out the actually collecting data, a pilot study was undertaken in three schools. The pilot study was aimed at clearing any ambiguity in the questionnaires. With the intention of improve the validity of the instruments the researcher sought expert opinions. Instrument reliability was established at 0.6823. Quantitative data gathered was coded and keyed into an SPSS software for analysis and were reported through the application of frequency distributions, means and percentages. The analysis of qualitative data was done thematically based on research objectives. The study established that tuition waiver fund had a great impact on students‘ retention and graduation rates. Most of the beneficiaries were; learners from low income households, large families and dysfunctional families. Based on the ANOVA test, the study established that parents‘ level of income had a considerable effect on students‘ graduation rate, F (2, 41) =13.666, p=0.000. Similarly, it was established that parental level of income had a significant influence on students retention in school, F (2, 41) =9.973, p=0.000. This revealed that parental socio-economic factors played a great role in students‘ education. The study recommends that the Government should increase funding in schools to include money for infrastructure and development, among other recommendations.