Determinants of Children’s Enrollment in Selected Pre-Schools in Iria-Ini Zone, Nyeri South Sub-County, Kenya
Mwangi, Joel Kihia
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What happens during the early stages of life of an individual has a significant influence in his entire life. Education is viewed as a social good because it creates opportunities and provides people with choices. In Kenya, pre-school enrollment has been declining since the introduction of free primary education. Evidence of this can be seen in the fewer numbers of children being enrolled in pre-schools. Available data from the District Education office Nyeri South indicated that the proportion of children in pre-schools in Iriai-ini zone expressed as a percentage of the population aged three to five is 59% which translates into a gap of 41%. There had been inconsistencies among researchers in establishing the predictors for pre-school enrollment. The purpose of this study therefore was to establish the determinants of children’s enrolment in selected public pre-schools in Iriai-ini Zone, Nyeri County. The study was guided by the following objectives: to establish how parents’ attitudes towards pre-school education influence pre-school enrollment; find out how parents’ economic background influences pre-school enrollment; establish how teachers’ qualifications influence pre-school enrollment; and to find out how feeding programmes influence pre-school enrollment. The study was based on the educational production function theory. The study adopted a mixed methods research design and targeted head teachers, teachers and parents in pre-schools in Iriai-ini Zone, Nyeri South Sub-County. Census technique and purposive sampling were used to come up with a sample of 16 head teachers, 25 teachers and 20 parents. The study employed questionnaires and interviews to collect data. Descriptive methods such as frequencies and percentages were used to summarize and organize data. The results from the data analysis were presented using tables of frequencies and percentages. An overwhelming number of teachers (92%) indicated that children’s economic background hindered pre-school enrollment. As a whole, the parents’ indicated that they struggled to financially support pre-school education for their children because majority of them were unemployed. Other hindrances mentioned by teachers were ignorance by parents, lack of support by government and poor infrastructure. Other hindrances mentioned by parents included distance to school and poor performance of the schools. School feeding was selected by majority of the teachers and parents as one of the factors which they believed encouraged parents to enroll their children in pre-schools. Other encouraging factors included parents’ attitude towards pre-school, teachers’ qualification, playing facilities and day care services provided by pre-schools. Teachers suggested employment of more teachers and support for the feeding programme while parents suggested inclusion of pre-school into the free primary programme. The study concluded that children’s economic background was the major factor hindering preschool enrollment while school feeding program was the major encouraging factor for pre-school enrollment. The study recommended that the government should include pre-schools into free primary education and financially support the school feeing program. The study also recommended that the Teachers Service Commission should employ the pre-school teachers.