A study of factors that cause low performance in KCPE in Kitui district Eastern province with particular reference to Mwingi educational division Kenya
Nzoka, Stephen Musila
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Introduction As many other years have witnessed, they year 1987, has experienced some public outery in Kenya about poor performance in national examinations, especially Kenya Certificate for Primary Education (KCPE). While some districts have been reasonably making commendable efforts to uplift the general performance in KCPE from year to year, other districts seem to linger far behind. Kitui District succumbs under the latter category. Purpose The purpose of this research has, therefore, been to investigate some of the factors that cause low performance in KCPE within the district, with particular reference to Mwingi Educational Division. This problem, partly historical and partly geographical, has become increasingly significant enough to warrant educational research in 1980s. Methodology In order to investigate the said factors, the researcher constructed four instruments: These research instruments (see chapter five), consisted of an interview questionnaire to the district education officer (DEO), the District Primary Schools Inspector (DPESI), the Secretary for KNUT Kitui Branch the Assistant Education Officers (AEO) and Primary Schools' inspectors on divisional level (DPSI). The second questionnaire was filled by the six Assistant Primary Schools' Inspectors of Mwingi Division (APSI), on zonal level. The third questionnaire was administered to thirty head teachers of thirty schools, all selected from Mwingi Educational Division. The final questionnaire was filled by the masters and/ or mistresses of classes seven and eight of the selected thirty schools. The rationale behind using both classes for the same information was to produce valid data. The filled questionnaires were to be duly returned to the assistant primary schools' inspectors' offices of Mwingi Division for effective collection and possible recovery of the unreturned questionnaires. In this way, no questionnaire got lost. The selected school for the study were those whose head teachers had been in office since, or before, 1981. Besides, the researcher visited five schools in each educational division, twenty-five schools altogether, and observed teachers teach. The unscheduled school visits and class observations were always followed by general discussions with teachers and viewing their lesson-plans. The intention here was just to find out how prepared they were for the day's work. Many were often found not to be. Similarly, the researcher held frequent discussions with assistant chiefs, parents and pupils themselves in the course of investigation. Their views and ideas were generally valuable. Data Analysis In addition to tabulating the data, the researcher also used percentage computation to indicate the number or direction taken by the respondents as regarded an issue in question. The percentage scores were manually calculated and often put in round figures. The aim here was to render the work simple and legible. Limitations The instruments utilised in this research were limited to the few district education officers, divisional education officers, the six assistant primary schools' inspectors of Mwingi Division and a sample of thirty selected schools. Similarly, the observations were limited to few schools drawn from each of the five educational divisions. Though the findings reflect the situation as it is throughout the district, the researcher lays no claim that he studied all that there was to. The limiting factors comprised time, finance, and distance, as the district is geographically so vast. Indeed, there is need to extend this research to all schools within the district, to visit and to observe schools in the remote areas where schools' inspectors have hardly gone. Findings Among the striking phenomena about Kitui District are its geographical areas and sparse population, particularly in the outskirts. Put in comparative terms, the district annual report of 1985 has this to say: ''Kitui District is vast in terms of its geographical areas---29388 square kilometres. It extends roughly 350 kilometres north-southern longest distance points (Katse-Ikutha) whereas the widest portion covers about 250 kilometres (Kwa Vonza through Endau to the eastern boundary). Generally, its area can be compared to both areas of South Nyanza and Western Provinces put together. The population density and distribution in the district is the reverse of its geographical size. The 1979 census recovered a population of 461, 619 with a population density of 16 persons per kilometre which is very sparse in comparison with the other areas mentioned above. As a result of this small population, the number of schools and pupils is small.'' pl. Kitui is divided into five vast educational divisions and thirty-two educational zones, manned by five divisional assistance education officers, five divisional primary schools' inspectors and thirty-two zonal assistant primary schools' inspectors, respectively. (See Chapter four). Currently the district has a total of 622 primary schools of which 288 are under the School Feeding Programme Scheme, and that 432 schools will do KCPE at the end of 1987. It has a teaching force of 5114 of which 2413 or 47 percent are untrained. Such large untrained manpower cannot simply be ignored as an insignificant.