Parents’ and School Management Committee (now BOM) support in the Implementation of Free Primary Education in Kakamega and Kajiado Counties.
With the introduction of Free Primary Education (FPE) in Kenya, the government abolished fees and tuition levies in primary education. Examination fees have also now been abolished and uniforms are not compulsory. However, the government emphasizes that to ensure effectiveness of FPE, community support for infrastructure development is necessary. Indeed, the Ministry of Education stresses that community contributions, either in form of financial resources or in kind, are required to support the government’s contributions. This paper presents the findings of a study conducted in Kakamega and Kajiado districts to assess the participation of parents and School Management Committees (SMCs), now referred to as Boards of Management (BoM) in the implementation of FPE. Data were collected from 59 headteachers, 14 Area Education Officers, 118 parents, 118 SMC members, 2 District Education Officers and 7 senior officers from the Ministry of Education headquarters through questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs). Most head teachers and teachers reported that after introduction of FPE, many parents were not actively involved in school management affairs, did not voluntarily contribute materially or financially to support school activities, were not involved in management of discipline within schools, and did not cooperate with teachers on academic progress of their children. From these reports, it was evident that most parents had misinterpreted the FPE policy. School Management Committees were generally regarded by headteachers as being much more supportive than Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and played an active role in budgeting, planning, and in supervising development projects and expenditure. However, SMCs were found to be less active in handling disciplinary cases in the school, maintaining academic standards, and sensitizing and mobilizing parents on school programmes. The study therefore recommended that the government should promote greater awareness among parents and communities in general on their role in FPE through a sensitization campaign. To ensure that SMC members understand their roles and discharge them with commitment, the study recommended that SMC members undergo management and leadership training.