Factors influencing academic performance of public primary schools in Makuyu Division, Murang'a South District, Kenya
Njuguna, Njoroge Robert
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Performance in national examinations is embraced as an indicator of quality in education systems that are examination oriented. Learners who perform well are perceived to have received high quality education. Despite the Government of the Republic of Kenya commitment to provide high quality primary education, pupils' academic achievement remains a challenge in the public primary schools in Makuyu Division, Murang' a South District. The available statistics indicate that the division has consistently registered appalling results in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (K.C.P.E) examination. It also shows that the primary education standards in the division have been declining. This poses a serious threat to the socio-economic development of the region and the country at large. The purpose and objectives of the study was therefore to establish the school-based, socio-economic and socio-cultural factors influencing academic performance of public primary schools in Makuyu Division with a view to make recommendations. The study adopted a descriptive survey design utilizing both quantitative and qualitative techniques. The target population was all the public primary schools in Makuyu Division, Murang' a South District, their deputy headteachers, teachers and pupils. Due to their disproportionateness, schools were stratified according to education zones and then simple randomly sampled using the lottery technique. The study involved a sample of 21 deputy headteachers, 105 teachers and 210 pupils making a total of 336 participants. Data were collected using a pupils' questionnaire, focus group discussions for the deputy headteachers and teachers, and an observation checklist. Reliability and validity of the research instruments were determined by a pilot study. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics: quantitative data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17 for windows while qualitative data were analyzed inductively (thematically). From the study, factors within the school and home environment which come into play and influence academic performance of the public primary schools in the division emerged. The school-based factors included use of Mother tongue and sub- standard Kiswahili and English in school and more so during the teaching/learning process; ineffective monitoring of private studies and individual learners progress; inadequacies in assessment and feedback; lack of shared vision and focused mission; and inadequate and poorly maintained physical and material resources. The socio- economic factors included low parental/guardian education level; low income and pre-occupation with work. The socio-cultural factors included low regard for education; initiation rite of passage; engagement in sex and dating; and entrenchment of the terrible outlawed Mungiki sect. Based on these findings, it was recommended that all stakeholders in education sector be sensitized on the importance of provision of high quality education; capacity building to improve acquisition and mastery of the language of instruction; emphasis on formative evaluation as an integral aspect of educational process; school administrators to undergo education management and administration courses so as to improve efficiency; collaboration between the Government of the Republic of Kenya and development partners to work out, introduce and implement sustainable economic activities; sensitization in societal beliefs, values and practices which hinder education outcomes; and reviewing, improving and strengthening guidance and counseling.