Transition Challenges Experienced by Pupils in Achievement of Literacy Competencies in Early Years Education Curriculum in Vihiga County, Kenya
Kigadi, Moses Kadagi
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Children’s transition from early childhood education level into grade one can sometimes be a challenging period. As children transit into grade one of primary school level, some find the new school environment intimidating and hence have to deal with variety of challenges including strict classroom routines, differences in curriculum and pedagogical approaches which may negatively impact on their acquisition of literacy competencies as well as their desire to learn. Research have shown that experiencing challenges during transition into formal school negatively influence pupils’ performance resulting to grade repetition or some pupils not making it to the last level of primary school. The purpose of the study was to establish the level of grade one pupils’ achievement in literacy competencies and also transition challenges they experience hindering their achievement of literacy competencies in early year education curriculum as well as strategies used in schools by grade one teachers to overcome the challenges in primary schools in Vihiga Sub-county of Vihiga County. The research was guided by Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (1979). The research was carried out in Vihiga Sub-County in Vihiga County and it employed a descriptive research design and specifically survey method was used. The targeted population was 1152 grade one pupils as well as 81 teachers in both public and private primary schools within Vihiga Sub-County. The sample size involved 12 grade one teachers and 172 grade one pupils. A total of 12 schools were randomly sampled which included 10 public and 2 private primary schools. Questionnaire for grade one teachers and observation schedule for grade one pupils were used to collect data. The research instruments were piloted in two schools. Content validity and test re-test technique was used to ensure the instruments were valid and reliable. Qualitative and quantitative data methods were used to analyze data and the results presented using tables, figures and text. Findings from the study revealed that pupils literacy competencies at the start of grade one in Vihiga Sub-county were above average with majority of the respondents meeting expectations in the various literacy competencies examined. The study also found out that, pupils in private primary schools performed better (M=3.14) than pupils in public primary schools (M=2.44) in areas that were observed in literacy. The study findings further revealed that adjusting to new school rules, lack of enough learning materials, lack of parental involvement in children’s learning and coping with new teachers and high teacher pupil ratios were some of the challenges that pupils were facing during transition to school. It is hoped that the findings of the study may be used to sensitize early years stakeholders on the challenges affecting smooth transition as pupils transition into grade one level of primary school education.