Impact of khat cultivation on educational performance among upper primary schools pupils in Gachoka Division, Embu County, Kenya
Ngeranwa, Daniel J. N.
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Catha edulis (Khat) leaves are chewed by a high proportion of both adults and youth in Kianjiru location, which hosts Kianjiru education zone, for their stimulant effect. The habit of Khat chewing is widespread in Kianjiru location. Awareness of the influences of consumption of Khat among pupils in upper primary schools in Kianjiru zone of Gachoka Division in Mbeere South District is currently under research. In order to fill the existing knowledge gap, this study was designed to describe and evaluate the relationship between pupils attitude and pupils awareness of impact of Khat consumption, to examine influence of gender on the awareness of impact of Khat consumption, to establish how parent‟s Khat farming practice influence awareness of the impact of Khat consumption, and to find out how chewing of Khat influences Educational success among upper-primary school pupils. This study used a questionnaire which was administered to (304) pupils from standard seven and eight pupils in 21 primary schools in Kianjiru zone of Gachoka Division in Mbeere South District in Embu County. Data was analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Bi-variate analysis was conducted by use of Spearman‟s rank order correlation coefficient run at p<0.05 to test for significance relations between variables. The results revealed that, there was a positive significant relationship between gender and the perception that, Khat chewing was not harmful to human health (ρ=0.208, p<0.010) and that, there was a significant positive relationship between gender and the perception that, Khat chewing is not harmful to health (ρ=0.208, p<0.01), which alluded that, gender influenced awareness of the impact of Khat. The results revealed that, 9.9% of the pupils chewed Khat whereby, 2.6% and 5.0% of the chewers were girls and boys respectively. The pupils chewed Khat to feel good (66.7%), to score high marks (0.7%), and to emulate their peers (2.0%).The results revealed that, there was inadequate awareness about the impact of chewing Khat amongst the pupils in Kianjiru zone. Khat chewing impacted negatively on educational performance of the pupils where the boy‟s were more adversely affected than the girls. The researcher therefore recommends more sensitization to be done on the primary school children on the effects of chewing Khat. A program should be initiated with a focus to salvage the boy child whose academic performance needs empowerment. On the other hand law should be executed to arrest child labour in Khat growing zones. The curriculum should be equipped with adequate environmental knowledge related to effects of Khat. The government on the other hand should play her noble role to sensitize the entire community on the effects of Khat chewing. The information obtained sheds light on the relative awareness on the impacts of consumption of Khat among the standard seven and eight pupils in the targeted schools and serve as an eye opener to the problem in the entire region where Khat is grown and consumed. Much deeper information may be obtained by conducting a similar study with inclusion of out of school youths who are more vulnerable to drug use and abuse, and form a significant part of the youth population in the community. Including the non-students is also likely to give a more elaborate pattern of Khat use amongst the drug users. Conducting similar studies in a variety of cultures is yet another approach to add more insight to this study for the benefit of the government to find out a long lasting solution to the problem of Khat use amongst the youth to ensure a healthy nation and consequently therefore to certain sustainable development.