Cio-Cultural Practices and Their Influence on Retention of Boys in Public Primary Schools In West Pokot County, Kenya
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Retention of pupils in school is important in the attainment of educational goals. Although there has been concerted effort to ensure girls remain in school, there is a growing concern that retention of boys in primary schools particularly in pastoral regions in Kenya is low. If this remains unchecked it could lead to wastage of potential human capital as the boys would be unproductive economically, socially and politically. This study sought to address this concern by establishing the influence of socio-cultural practices on retention of boys in public primary schools in West Pokot County. The study objectives were to: establish the influence of male gender roles, establish the influence of institutional practices, determine the influence of parental support and to determine the influence of teachers and pupils’ cultural perceptions on retention of boys in public primary schools in West Pokot County. The study was anchored on Tinto’s theory of student retention and Connel’s theory of hegemonic masculinity. This study employed Convergent Parallel Mixed Method approach in data collection and analysis. The target population was 8319 comprising of 5 sub county Quality Assurance and Standards officers (QASOs), 663 head teachers, 790 class teachers and 6861 class eight boys. Yamane formula was used to obtain a sample of 249 head teachers, 265 class-teachers and 378 class eight boys. Purposive sampling, cluster and simple random sampling were used to select the respondents. Questionnaires were used to collect quantitative data from the teachers and pupils while interview schedules were used to collect qualitative data from the QASOs. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis while qualitative data were analysed through thematic content analysis according to the objectives of the study. The study found out that participation in rite of passage indoctrinated and kept boys away from school for long durations, inheritance of family wealth falsely promised a secure future for the boys while herding/child labour kept boys away from school leading to drop out. In addition, lack of male role models due to few male teachers in school, lack of parental support in terms of lack of follow up on academics, lack of commitment to boys schooling, negative attitude and perceived low returns from education stood out as key impediments to boys’ retention. The study concludes that socio-cultural practices influenced boys’ retention. This study recommends that school managements could engage alumni and successful professional in the county to mentor the boys. To change the negative parental attitude towards education, the county government could embark on sensitization programmes on the benefits of education to the boys. Additionally, the Teachers Service Commission could consider deliberate gender balancing in posting teachers to West Pokot County in order to address the shortage of male role models. Finally, the national government could replicate effective models employed in girl’s campaigns such as construction of boys boarding schools and rescue centres, re-integration of boys back to school after dropout and affirmative action programmes in order to enhance boys’ retention in public primary schools in West Pokot County.