Impact of Free Secondary Education Policy on Internal Efficiency of Day Schools in Gatanga District, Murang’a County, Kenya
In 2008, the Kenyan government introduced the free secondary education (FSE) programme with the aim of expanding access to secondary education to children from poor households who may fail to enroll because the parents are unable to pay. The government is seeking to expand secondary education while constrained by resources and strategies should therefore be put in place to ensure that the FSE programme is sustainable and that it yields meaningful gains. One such strategy would be to improve the internal efficiency of the education system and of individual institutions. This study sought to analyze the internal efficiency of day schools in Gatanga district under FSE. In particular the study sought to establish the status of repetition, performance in exams and enrolment/school sizes under FSE. The study adopted the survey design. The target population included 23 day secondary schools, 23 principals and 245 teachers. Simple random sampling was used to select a sample consisting of 8 schools and 8 principals and purposive sampling was used to select the 48 teachers who were included in the sample. Questionnaires and interview schedules were used to collect data from teachers and principals respectively. Data on performance, repeaters and enrolment was collected through document analysis. Content validity of the instruments was determined through consultations with supervisors and their reliability was tested by piloting the instruments. Data was edited, coded and punched into a computer. Quantitative data was tabulated and analyzed using measures of central tendency and percentages, by means of Excel computer program. The data is presented in tables and bar graphs. Qualitative data was subjected to thematic analysis. The study found that in the period between 2008 and 2011 performance of day schools in KCSE improved, repeater rates greatly increased and enrolment had a marginal increase. It was concluded that the FSE policy had contributed both positively and negatively to internal efficiency of day schools; positively through improved performance in national exams and enrolment (although schools were still under enrolled) and negatively through increased repeater rates. It was recommended that there was need to put in place clear guidelines on class size so as to address the problem of screening as a cause of under enrolment. Another recommendation was that strict guidelines on repetition should be put in place so as to avoid wastage of resources allocated to schools and to the education sector. Textbooks and an equipped science laboratory are instrumental in improving performance of learners. It was therefore recommended that the ministry of education officials should occasionally inspect schools to ensure that the textbook fund and other such funds which directly improve learners’ achievement are not diverted to other school projects. Recommendations for further research were also made.