Assessment of cost-effective strategies adopted to cut unit cost in day secondary schools in Kahuro district, Murang' a county, Kenya
Mburia, Daniel Njoroge
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The introduction of Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) in January 2008 by the Kenyan Government aimed at expanding access and reducing costs of secondary education to parents. Unfortunately despite the introduction of FDSE fund of Ksh 10265 per student in secondary school, the cost of secondary education is still unbearably high due to inflation and high poverty levels of many Kenyans. The FDSE fund has remained static since it was introduced and schools are not allowed to charge any fees to students to cushion themselves from rising costs. The delay by the government in disbursing the FDSE fund to schools and inadequacy of the funds worsen the financial crisis in day secondary schools. This study was therefore designed to assess the cost effectiveness strategies adopted by day secondary schools in Kahuro district to cut the unit cost so as to provide quality education at an affordable cost especially to the poor. The main objective of the study was to establish the unit cost for day secondary schools in Kahuro District and establish the strategies used by the schools to cut unit cost. Literature review was done from all spheres on strategies of improving access to secondary education, free secondary education in Kenya and unit cost in education. The study adopted a descriptive survey design with both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. The study involved a population of 19 public day secondary schools in Kahuro District. Data from the field was collected from a sample of 10 schools comprising of the headteachers, HODs, Bursars and parents. Stratified, simple random, proportionate and purposive sampling techniques were used to select the sample. The research instruments for this study included detailed questionnaires for headteachers, HODs and Bursars; and Interview Guide for the Focus Group Discussion with parents. Validity of the research instruments was done by seeking opinion of experts in research at Kenyatta University. Reliability of the instruments was tested through the Test-retest method in one day secondary school which was not included in the sample. The researcher individually collected data from the field which was then analyzed through basic descriptive statistics. To get the optimal enrolment and determine the optimal unit cost, the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16.0 and a mathematical package (Grapes version 6.5) were used. In addition, regression analysis and differentiation were used. The study established that the optimal enrolment for the schools was 275 students, while the optimal unit cost was Ksh.24,405.75 per year. The study established that: Improvisation and borrowing equipments from neighbouring schools, employing qualified trained teachers by the BOG to fill teacher shortage, and tightening of school budgets; were cost effectiveness strategies that the schools under study adopted to cut unit cost. Based on research findings, the study recommends that the government should increase the annual FDSE subsidy from the current Ksh.10,265 to Ksh.24,405.75 for day scholars and that establishing new day schools should not be a priority until all the existing ones attain the optimal enrolment.