Factors influencing student access, retention and completion of secondary school education in Kangundo District, Machakos County.
Nthenge, John Nzioka
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The delivery of secondary school education in Kenya has been marked by numerous challenges. Some of these challenges have culminated in poor students' access and poor participation in secondary school education. This poor access and poor participation has resulted to declining completion rates, repetition of classes and drop out in schools. These forms of wastage will hinder the attainment of Education for all (EFA) goals, which the government targets to meet by 2015. The main objective of this study was to identify the factors which influence students' access, retention and completion rates of secondary school education in Kangundo district. The study also sought to suggest intervention measures that can be put up by the schools to curb the problem. The study used Ex- post factor research design. Target population for this study was head teachers of secondary schools, students and class teachers of forms two, three and four. These were the classes where poor retention had been reported, according to data from Kangundo district education office. A sample of nine secondary schools was selected from the 22 secondary schools in the district. This was 40% of the total number of secondary schools in the district. Stratified sampling technique was used to select the schools while simple random sampling was used to identify the class teachers and the students. Total student respondents were 77, which was 10.6% of the total student population in the whole district. Nine principals of the schools selected were taken and 27 class teachers, giving a total of 113 respondents. Data collection instruments were questionnaires and interview schedules. Questionnaires were administered to the class teachers and the students, while the interview schedule was administered to the head teachers. Piloting to pre-test the research instruments was administered to two principals, three class teachers and five students. These respondents were not used in the main study. Pre-testing of instruments was necessary so as to enhance the reliability and validity of the research instruments. Reliability was determined by test-retest method and then correlation coefficient was computed. A value of 0.75 was obtained which was considered high enough to judge reliability of the instruments. The collected data was coded, edited and then analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and the results were presented using tables, pie charts and bar graphs. According to the findings of the study, some of the factors influencing students' access, retention and completion rates include: amount of fees charged by the school, negative peer influence, understaffing virtually in all the schools, low parental income (poverty), teenage pregnancies, inadequate teaching, and learning facilities. Based on these findings, the researcher recommends that: The Government should declare free secondary school education and make it compulsory; the Ministry of Education should increase bursary allocations to secondary schools so as to cater for the increasing number of students from poor families; schools should have well trained guidance and counseling teachers to inculcate moral values in students; the government should employ more teachers to alleviate the acute shortage of teachers in secondary schools; and the curriculum content should be restructured to make it more interesting and more leaner centered.