An investigation of factors leading to children's absenteeism in public primary schools in the era of free education, Ruiru Division, Thika District
Muiru, Millicent Thanji
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Absenteeism is one of the factors leading to educational wastage. Many pupils who enroll in primary school do not complete the eight-year leg within the stipulated period while some do not complete at all. The declaration of free primary education is not in itself enough to ensure perfect attendance. Other factors will be at play and this means the colossal amounts of money being channeled to free primary education will not be put into effective use. Absenteeism means the children will not leap the maximum benefits that are entitled to them. This is a drawback to the national goals of education, hence leading to underutilization of human resources in terms of basic skills for the country's economic and social development. This study intended to investigate the factors leading to absenteeism of children in public primary schools. The subjects of the study consisted of standard 6 to 8 pupils (120) and their teachers (40). The researcher used random sampling to select five schools in Ruiru Division, Thika District. Two anonymous questionnaires were used, one for the pupils and another for the teachers as the main tools in data collection. One questionnaire was administered to 120 pupils and another one to 40 teachers. The data collected were analyzed through the use of descriptive statistics. After data analysis it was noted that pupil absenteeism was a major problem in Ruiru Division's public primary schools even after fee waiver by the government. The major causes were noted to be illness, family problems and lack of interest and 'bad company'. The findings of the study revealed that pupil absenteeism cannot be tackled by teachers alone but also needs the involvement of parents, school counselors, education planners and curriculum developers. The result of this study supported the results of some earlier studies carried out before the implementation of free education in Kenya and elsewhere. Some suggestions for considerations in future were made.