School-Related Characteristics Influencing the Implementation of Free Primary Education Programme in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya: a Comparative Perspective
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This study sought to explore the school-related factors that are influencing the degree of success or failure in the implementation of Free Primary Education (FPE) at school level in Uasin Gishu county of Kenya. The study was a comparative study of primary schools in the rural and urban areas of the county. The provision of basic education is very crucial in laying the foundation for meaningful development in any country. The Kenya government introduced the FPE programme on January 6, 2003 with an aim of increasing access and participation in primary education across the country. Studies have shown that the policy has not had the desired impact as the initial entrants to primary schools were faced with various challenges, leading to dropout and therefore wastage. One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was ensuring universal primary education by 2015. The overall purpose of the study was to find out if schools, through the Head teachers, BoM members, and teachers, had the required potential to sustainably manage and implement the programme. The Head teachers are expected to have both administrative and financial management and book-keeping skills being the implementers of government policies at the school level. The research questions sought answers on whether Head teachers have the necessary administrative skills, and whether the BoM members have the required management skills, availability and quality of teaching and learning resources, perceptions of teachers on FPE, and how the challenges experienced can be addressed. The researcher collected both quantitative and qualitative data using questionnaires, interview guides and observation schedule. The study sample included a total of 12 schools in urban areas selected from the five zones within Eldoret Municipality and another 12 from those found in the surrounding rural areas. Stratified random sampling method was used. The participants in the study included 24 Head teachers, 44 Board of Management members, and 48 class teachers pooled from the selected schools. Presentation and analysis of descriptive data was done using frequency tables, cross tabulations and interpretations made. The study found out that schools are still faced with a number of challenges in implementing the programme. These include lack of financial management skills, inadequate financing, inadequate physical facilities, teacher shortage and limited parental participation. The study found out that rural and sub-urban schools are disadvantaged in the implementation of the FPE programme. The study recommends that the Ministry of Education (MoE) should continually create and monitor awareness among various stakeholders especially BoM members and parents on their roles in implementing FPE programme. It is also recommended that Head teachers be given appropriate training on financial management. Hiring of more teachers by the government was identified as key in matching the ever-increasing pupil enrolment in public schools. Allocation of adequate funds and timely disbursement to schools is also critical in ensuring the success of the programme. This study further recommends the adoption of a participatory approach where key stakeholders are involved in budgeting since schools in rural and urban areas have unique priorities.