Effectiveness of constituency bursary funds in enhancing retention of students in secondary schools in Manyatta constituency, Embu West District
The Ministry of Education increased the allocation of secondary school bursaries from Kshs 204.5 million in 1997/1998 financial year to Kshs 800 million in 2006/2007 financial year (Republic of Kenya, 2005a). This represented an increase of 397 percent over the 10-year period. Despite this huge investment to assist the poor access secondary education, a large number of children do not access secondary education on completion of primary education. An even larger number of students are not sustained in the schools once they are enrolled. Most of them drop out of schools in their second or third year (Republic of Kenya, 2005b). The Constituency Bursary Fund (CBF), which was formally referred to as Secondary School Education Bursary Fund (SEBF), was established in 1993/4 financial year. The objective of the fund was to reduce the financial burden of poor families in financing secondary education. CBF aims to cushion the country's poor and vulnerable groups against the high and. increasing cost of secondary education, therefore reducing inequalities. It is therefore necessary that an assessment be carried out to determine the efficiency of the Constituency Bursary Fund with a view of making its allocation better and more targeted to enhance retention of needy students in secondary schools. Based on this, the purpose of the study was to assess the effectiveness of the Constituency Bursary Fund in enhancing retention in secondary schools. The study was conducted in Manyatta Constituency of Embu District and adopted a descriptive survey research design. Ten public secondary schools from the total of 17 schools in the area were randomly selected for study. The respondents for this study included two members of the Constituency Bursary Committee, all the 10 school principals from each of the schools, 100 students, ten from each school, Embu District Education Officer, and two area chiefs were used for the study. Two types of research instruments; questionnaires and interview schedules, were used for data collection. Descriptive statistics such as percentages and frequency distribution were employed to analyze the quantitative data. Qualitative data was placed under themes consistent with the research objectives and conclusions made based on trends and patterns of responses. The study established that despite the fact that students applied for bursary funds, not all deserving cases benefited from the funds. This was mostly because the funds allocated to schools were not enough to meet the needs of all the deserving students. The study established that bursary schemes slightly improved secondary school retention rates, which means that there may be other factors affecting retention rates other than the availability of funds. The study also found out that the most common challenges faced in the distribution of bursary funds were lack of transparency, lack of clear procedures, corruption and that the process was slow and cumbersome. The study recommended that there should be fair distribution of funds to schools, as girls tend to have more needs than boys, and this should be taken into consideration when distributing funds; the process has been known to be slow and cumbersome, so it should be made faster so that the purpose the funds were intended for are realized in good time and also the categories and procedures for distribution of bursaries should be clearly stipulated.
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