Influence of educational support systems on participation of orphans and vulnerable children in primary schools in Kalama Division, Machakos County, Kenya
Mutie, Jeniffer Ndungulu
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The aim of this study was to investigate on the influence of educational support systems (ESSs) on participation of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) in primary schools in Kalama division, Machakos County, Kenya. This was crucial as OVCs‟ school attendance, retention and class concentration was low due to poor educational support. This contradicted the Kenya National policy on OVCs (2005) which stipulates that OVCs have the right to access education. The study was concerned with ESSs namely nutritional, academic and emotional support and their influence on participation of OVCs in primary schools. The objectives of the study were to: Find out the nature of nutritional support and its influence on OVCs participation in primary schools; Establish academic support and its influence on OVCs participation in primary schools; Examine emotional support and its influence on OVCs participation in primary schools and explore intervention measures that can enhance the educational support systems. The study adopted descriptive research design. Simple random sampling technique was used to select 5 public primary schools. Head teachers of the selected primary schools were selected using purposive sampling technique while teachers and regular pupils were sampled using simple random sampling technique. Systematic random sampling was used to select OVCs. Sample size was determined by calculation based on 10 percent of the target population. The sample included; 5 head teachers, 36 teachers, 200 OVCs and 110 regular pupils. The sample size was 351 with 158 males and193 females. The instruments for data collection were questionnaires, interview schedule, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and observation schedules. A test retest method was used to determine the reliability of the research instruments where formula of spearman rank order correlation was used. Validity of the instruments was determined by the researcher. Qualitative data was analyzed by use of content analysis approach while quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics which included the use of excel computer Programme. Quantitative approach was mainly used in this study since most of the data was analyzed in numerical form. The findings of the study were presented on frequency tables and percentages, pie-chart, bar graphs and in narrative form. The findings revealed that the ESSs offered to OVCs were; free primary education, school feeding programmes and guidance and counseling, among others. However, the ESSs were inadequate leading to low participation of OVCs in primary schools. The suggested intervention measures for enhancing the educational support systems for OVCs included; community sensitization on OVCs‟ matters and involvement of government towards supporting OVCs. Recommendations were made to the government to support OVCs nutritional needs by ensuring school feeding programmes were operational in all public primary schools and ensure the pro-poor initiatives were reaching all the OVCs so as to meet their basic needs. Community and private organizations were recommended to support OVCs meet their educational needs.