Effect of Free Primary Education on Growth and Sustainability of Early Childhood Education Centers in Marsabit Central Sub-County, Kenya
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The aim of this research was to investigate the effect of free primary education on growth and sustainability of Early Childhood Education (ECE) Centers in Marsabit Central Subcounty,Kenya. The main problem of this study was that, despite Early Childhood Education being the foundation of learning in later school level it was not free like in the case of primary school, or subsidized as in the case of secondary schools. This therefore means that parents with children in ECE Centers must pay fees for their children to be in school, a situation which is likely to threaten the growth and sustainability of ECE. It is feared that a number of parents opt to withhold their children at home until they are of age for the free primary education (FPE) which is financed by the government. This in essence means that FPE may deny the ECE Centers the finances with which to run their programmes thus negatively impacting on their growth and sustainability. This study sought to assess the effects of free primary education on the growth and sustainability of ECE Centers. The study adopted a descriptive survey design. The study was carried out in Marsabit Central Sub-county. The study used a sample size of 147 respondents comprising of 21 ECE Centres, 42 ECE teachers and 105 ECE parents. The study used primarily the questionnaire as the only instrument for data collection. Data obtained from open ended questions was analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively using descriptive statistic (i.e. calculations based on means frequencies and percentages) from the response given by the participants for each item. The findings were presented on graphs, pie charts and percentages. The study found out that majority (66.67%) of pupils paid fees ranging 200-500 per month, 21.43% paid fees of 500-1000 and 11.9% paid 1500-2000 respectively. Majority of the parents (79.66%) cited that they were not able to pay fees charged in the ECE centers. FPE programme was the major cause (54.76%) of job insecurity of the ECE teachers. FPE has threatened the enrolment and retention of ECE children and consequently reduced income for ECE Centers to be able to pay teachers' salaries. The study found that enrolment and retention in the ECE centers was not consistent. The study concluded that the FPE programme had contributed to the decrease of ECE centers in Marsabit Central Sub-county. The study recommends the government to support ECE learning centers across the country to enhance proper education growth of the pupils.