The hidden costs of free primary education and their implication on enrolment in Kisii Central District, Kenya
Ngwacho, George Areba
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In spite of the Republic of Kenya's (ROK) efforts to make primary education free and accessible to all, approximately 3.9 million children still remain out of school due to hidden costs (Census Report ,2009), hence the government's initial objective of every child attaining primary education remains unattained. In addition, prior researches have established increase in non - enrolment and drop-out in various parts of the country due to these hidden costs. The study sought to establish the hidden costs in the provision of free primary education and their impact on enrolment in Kisii Central District. The study was guided by the budget principal theory which emphasizes the balancing of three basic components in any ideal educational budget namely; educational programme, expenditure/cost and income/revenue for a successful education system. The study used a descriptive survey method, which was designed to investigate the hidden costs in the Provision of Free Primary Education and their impact on learning in Kisii Central District. Prior to the study, pilot study was conducted to ensure validity and reliability of the research instruments. Cluster random sampling technique was used to select 10% of the Head teachers and 10% of the parents from the sampled schools. This being a survey, the researcher used questionnaires and interview schedules as research instruments to collect data. The data were then analyzed with the aid of frequencies, averages, percentages and presented in tables, bar graphs and pie charts. Thematic analysis was used to analyze qualitative data: The study revealed that though the introduction of FPE Programme had greatly reduced the financial burden of public primary school going children, the parents still incurred some costs. It was established that on average parents spent Kshs 1674 per child on these costs. In addition the findings established that partially the hidden costs contributed to drop out rates as most parents were unable to meet the hidden costs of FPE. Further, the findings revealed that the government funding on FPE was inadequate and it was characterized by late disbursement. The results indicated that many public primary schools in Kisii Central District have insufficient physical facilities and learning resources. Conclusively, FPE implementation in Kisii Central District has not been effective as evidenced through educational wastage due to hidden costs of FPE; inadequate government funding among other factors. The study recommends government budgetary increase on FPE progamme so as to ease the financial burden met by parents, involvement of other stakeholders in funding FPE, timely disbursement of FPE funds to schools by the government among other recommendations as discussed in chapter five of the study. Significantly the study findings underscored the impact of hidden costs on the provision of FPE, which will enable education policy-makers and other stakeholders to cope with strategies for easing parents' cost-burden and ways of mobilizing funds to meet the cost of FPE programme to ensure its sustainability to avoid wastage in terms of human and material resources. Finally, the study has provided information that could form the basis for further critical assessment and evaluation of the FPE situation by future researchers to facilitate more concrete and valid solutions to the problem.
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