Rate of access and retention of children in public preschools: a case of Isinya sub-county, Kenya
Kuria, Serah Wanjiku
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Access and retention of children in pre-school is of paramount importance. Access and retention increases the opportunity of children to acquire concepts, skills and attitudes that form the foundation for future learning. It also enhances children's physical well-being, cognitive and language skills, and social-emotional development. Lack of access and retention of children to pre-school leads to lack of proper acquisition of basic skills that lay the foundation for the smooth transition to primary level one and school readiness. Despite the importance of pre-school education, research on the rate of access and retention of children to pre-school seem to have received limited attention. Globally studies conducted in Australia, and Auckland show that a substantial proportion of children lack access to pre-school and a good number of those that are enrolled dropout. Further studies demonstrate that arid and semi arid lands and urban slums recorded low access and retention. Isinya district is in semi arid area and therefore, it is likely to suffer the same fate. Other studies conducted on access and retention of children to education have demonstrated that both primary and secondary schools record low access and retention of children due to parental factors, geographical conditions, gender disparity and school fees factors among others. This study is intended to find out whether these same factors influence the rate of access and retention of children to public pre-schools in Isinya Sub- County. The objectives of the study were therefore to: establish the rate of access and retention, determine the extent to which parental factors influence the rate of access and retention, establish the role played by geographical factors on the rate of access and retention, find out whether there was gender disparity in the rate of access and retention and assess whether school fees factors have an influence on the rates of access and retention of children to public pre-school in Isinya Sub-County. The study adapted the Liberalism theory by Herbert Samuel, (1902-1935) and employed descriptive survey design. Purposive sampling was used to select the public preschools and a sample of 30 percent was drawn. Questionnaires and interview schedules were used as the research instruments. A pilot study was conducted in two of the public pre-schools which were not included in the sample. Test retest was used to check for reliability and Content validity was also ensured. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyse data. The study found out that the rate of access and retention of children to pre-school is low. Factors contributing to low access and retention of children to public pre-schools were found to include low income and education levels of the parents. In addition, the distance between home and school, drought and free primary education also playa role in making access and retention of children in pre-schools a challenge. The study recommended that the government offer free pre-school education, make pre-school education a prerequisite to standard one enrolment, and educate parents on some of the income generating projects they can engage in to generate money to pay school fees.