Determinants of low access and retention in Primary Schools: A case of Mathioya District, Kenya
Macharia, Frashiah Wairimu
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The major concern of this study is that despite the Kenya government re-introducing free primary education, some school age children are still locked out of school whereas dropout and repetition continue to be pervasive. The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors contributing to low access and retention of pupils in public primary schools of Mathioya District The objectives of the study were to establish pupil's enrolment and retention rates in Mathioya District primary schools in the period 2004 - 2008, to determine the school-based and pupil characteristics, socio-economic factors and socio-cultural factors contributing to low access and retention of pupils. The study also sought to establish measures that could be taken to improve access and retention in public primary education in Mathioya District. The research was guided by the classical liberal theory of equal opportunity. A descriptive survey technique was used to collect data from 10 head teachers, 53 Teachers, 300 pupils, 15 Parents, the area chief, DEO, the zonal quality and assurance office (ZQASO) and the districts children's office (DCO:)). The study used questionnaire, for headteachers and teachers, interviews were conducted for parents/guardians and the key informants. Focus group discussion was used to collect information from students. Schools, teachers and parents were sampled using stratified random technique. The key informants were purposively sampled. The pupils sample size was determined using Mugenda and Mugenda research methodology. Individual students were randomly selected from class seven and eight. Test-retest technique was used to test for reliability. Data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) windows. It was then presented using frequency tables, and bar graphs, dropout ratio was low. The problem of dropout affects girls more than boys The most prominent causes of declining rates of access and retention of pupils in public primary schools in the district are negative attitude cowards education, teenage pregnancy, indiscipline and lack of responsibility among parents. There is also the preference to transfer pupils from one public primary school to another and also to private academies. The findings showed that there are social -economic, socio cultural, and school based factors that pose a threat to achievement of UPE in the district. The study recommends that the government should enforce adherence of the laid down policies and procedures such as corporal punishment, repetition and extra tuition. The government should through the church conduct aggressive campaigns to sensitize the community on the need of education. Adult education should be introduced to raise the level of literacy and sense of responsibility among parents. Most important, the government should ban illicit brews like chang'aa.