Impact of tuition free secondary education on retention of the girl student in Bungoma North District
Welime, Martha Khakasa
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This project work was undertaken mainly to establish the impact of Tuition Free Secondary Education on retention of the girl student in Bungoma North District. The study was guided by the following objectives: to establish the retention rate of girls in seconadry schools in Bungoma North District before and after the introduction of Tuition Free Secondary Education; to find out school based factors that influence retention of female students in secondary schools in the District; to determine the constraints that affect the girl child's retention in secondary schools; and to determine possible strategies which can be effected to enhance the retention of girl child in secondary schools in the District. The study was based on Classical Liberal Theory of Equal Opportunity and Social Darwinism by John Dewey (1916). Literature was reviewed on gender enrollment trends, affordability, challenges facing Tuition Free Secondary Education, and attitudes of parents towards girls' education. The study was both descriptive and exploratory survey conducted in Bungoma North District of Bungoma County. 7 girls' secondary schools were purposively sampled from 27 girls' secondary schools in the District. Target population was; 29 principals, 174 class teachers, 203 PTA members, and 4,359 students in secondary schools in the District. The sample size comprised of 84 respondents. These were; 7 principals of selected girls secondary schools in Bungoma North District, 14 class-teachers, 7 PTA members and 56 students. Data was collected using questionnaires, and interview schedules. Documents were also reviewed in order to obtain the necessary information on retention rates. Descriptive statistics was used to analyse data using percentages and frequency distribution. Tables and charts were used to present and analyse data and a detailed interpretation of data written below the tables and charts used. The study found that Tuition Free Secondary Education led to increased enrolment of girls in various secondary schools in Bungoma North District but gender parity has not yet been met in the District. It was found that despite the introduction of Tuition Free Secondary Education, cases of drop out were still common, even though not in the magnitude reported prior to the introduction of the programme. Several school based factors influence retention of girls in secondary schools in the District include: lack of school fees; indiscipline; frequent transfers of teachers; peer pressure; failure to get schools of choice; long distances from home to school; and poor performance. Other factors identified are: high poverty levels in the District; early pregnancies and marriages; and heavy domestic responsibilities for the girl child. To address the identified constraints, the governrnent should increase the free secondary education subsidy and the bursary fund allocation with special focus on girl child; closely monitor fees chargeable by schools; girls be provided with sanitary towels; provide lunch programme; come up with poverty eradication measures; schools to reinforce guidance and counselling; incorporate all stakeholders in girls education; introduce sex education; and stiffer penalties for those who impregnate or marry underage girls. The study has therefore confirmed that FTSE influences the retention of girls in secondary schools in Bungoma North District.