Influence of Direct and Hidden Costs of Education on Access and Retention of Learners in Primary Schools in Garissa County, Kenya
Mohamed, Diyat Abdi
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Despite the fact that the Kenyan government offers Free Primary Education, there are still families that are not able to enroll and retain their children in school due to direct costs of education such as payment of salaries to PTA/BOM teachers, school uniforms, textbooks, money for school activities, and hidden costs such as opportunity costs. These costs brought about serious exclusions of less fortunate learners and may bring about drop out of pupils or non-attendance. This study aimed at gaining an in-depth understanding on the influence of direct and hidden costs of education on access and retention of learners in public primary schools in Garissa County. This study was guided by the following objectives; to determine the impact of payment of salaries to PTA/BOM teachers by parents, cost of school uniforms, opportunity costs and cost of textbooks on access and retention in school. The study of literature review revealed the concept of cost of education. Now that primary education is free in the public primary schools in Kenya, direct and hidden costs in education hinder access and retention of many pupils. The direct costs of education includes school levies (PTA/BOM and support staff salaries), activity and examination fees, development funds, books and school uniform costs while the hidden costs includes opportunity cost. These direct and hidden costs of education are a major concern in almost all our public primary schools since majority of the parents cannot afford to meet them and hence access and retention are affected to a large extent. This study adopted the descriptive survey design. The researcher used questionnaires for headteachers, interview schedules for parents and FGDs for learners as research instruments to collect data. A sample of 10% of the schools and 10% of the head teachers was used for this study. Krejice and Morgan's table was used to sample the 380 parents and 381 pupils grouped in 100 FGDs. The study found that on average, the cost of school uniform met by parents (70%), opportunity costs (76%), cost of textbooks met by parents (71%) and payment of salaries to PTA/BOM teachers by parents (72%) very greatly affected access to primary school education. On average, the cost of school uniform met by parents (77%), opportunity costs (80%), cost of textbooks met by parents (73%) and payment of salaries to PTA/BOM teachers by parents (76%) very greatly affected retention in school. The study recommended that findings of this study will help the government and other educational partners such as the GOs and the private sector to come up with interventions that go beyond the mere assumption that access and retention rates can be increased by reducing the direct costs of education without giving a considerable look at the impact of hidden costs as well. The study will also help the government with the help of its development partners to increase the level of subsidies and provide enough learning resources to primary schools.