Socio-economic determinants of access to secondary education in Kenya: a case of public day secondary schools in Nairobi Province
Maina, Nyambura Jennifer
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Educational attainment is considered the most egalitarian basis for the allocation of rewards in most societies. Consequently. access to education determines the ultimate life chances of an individual. When such opportunities are inequitably distributed, educational attainment potentially becomes the instrument for increasing inequality rather than the converse. One of the obvious manifestations of inequality between social and income groups in Kenya is evident in terms of the access they have the quality secondary education. Over time, this trend may lead to greater inequality in income, in wealth and in power, hence the need to establish empiricaiiy how the different socioeconomic groups are represented in public secondary schools. The purpose of the study was to investigate enrolment in public day secondary schools by different socioeconomic groups. The main objective of the study was to obtain and compare socioeconomic profiles of public day secondary schools in terms of the income group of family, the occupation of the household head, the formal educational attainment of the household head, the religious affiliation of the students' family and the place of residence of the student. The study followed a survey design. The target population of the study was all the public day secondary schools - at that time 25 in number - in Nairobi Province. Sampling followed a two-stage design comprising first, stratified sampling and then purposive sampling. The schools in the sample were first stratified by type - boys', girls' and mixed day schools. The best and poorest performing schools in each category were then purposively selected. This led to a sample size of six schools. The number of students sampled in each school was ten per cent of the school's total enrolment. The questionnaire was administered to 275 students. Twelve administrators were Also included in the survey. The study targeted form two students. The research instruments were questionnaires for students and administrators, and interview schedules with teacher in charge of guidance and counselling or a senior teacher/ senior teachers of the schools in the sample. The questionnaire for students was subjected to a pilot run. This involved administering the questionnaire to ten students in Lang'ata Secondary School. This school was then omitted from the sample. Adjustments were then made on the questionnaire before it was administered to the students in the schools sampled. In the study, qualitative data was generated. This comprised of the opinions of administrators regarding access by the different socioeconomic groups acid the responses of the students to questionnaire. The software programme SPSS Version 12 for Windows was used to analyse the data generated. Frequency distributions of the socioeconomic categories across the schools by quality and by type were obtained. The results of the study indicated that there was a high representation of students from the upper- middle and lower-middle income groups in public day secondary schools in Nairobi Province. The study also found that when schools were analysed according to quality, the upper income group dominated in the school of best quality. In addition, the study found that in terms of occupations, the offsprings of professionals, entrepreneurs and associate professionals predominatesd in the school of best quality. The recommendations of the study are that access to public day secondary schools in Nairobi Province by children from the low-income group, those living in urban slums and those whose parent have primary education or lower should be facilitated through compensatory measures.