Factors affecting effective decentralisation and management of education in abothuguchi west Division, Meru country, Kenya
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In the recent past all over the world, there has been a lot of interest in decentralisation of government functions as a way of enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery and taking government to the people. Despite decentralisation of education functions through delegation and deconcentration of functions, there are still concerns of ineffectiveness in service delivery. The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors that affect effective decentralisation of education focusing on instructional materials and infrastructure development and rehabilitation in primary schools in Abothuguchi division of Meru Central District. The objectives of the study were: to find out the perceptions of decentralisation of education services in Meru Central district by the district education officer and the head teachers; to investigate the aspects of education management decentralised to the school level in Meru Central district; to analyse the benefits of decentralisation of education management and development in Meru Central district; to assess the roles of management bodies in implementing decentralised functions in Meru Central district and to explore the challenges of decentralisation of education services in Meru Central district. The study used an exploratory descriptive survey design to target all the head teachers in the 17 public primary schools in Abothuguchi West Division of Meru Central district. The area DEO also participated in the study. Simple random sampling was used to select 14 primary schools to participate in the study while purposive sampling was used to select the 14 head teachers and the area DEO. The study used questionnaires as the main tools for data collection. A pilot study was carried out among three head teachers in the target division and a District Education Officer from a neighbouring District. Data collected was both quantitative and qualitative. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the quantitative data obtained. Qualitative data was analyzed by arranging the responses thematically in line with the objectives of the study. The study established that majority of the head teachers had a positive perception of decentralisation of education services. The main aspects of education management decentralised to school level were financial management, procurement, and teacher management issues. The study established that head teachers and the DEO were supportive of decentralisation, noting that it has a number of benefits including enhancing local responsibility, involvement and ownership, and enabling local businesses to supply instructional and construction materials to schools leading to local level development. Management bodies at the school level, such as SMCs performed various roles such as financial management, procurement, management of physical resources, infrastructure development, and management of human resources. The major factors that affected effective decentralisation were: inadequate funds, inadequate in-service training, and lack of expertise and experience by SMC members. The study also established that there were irregular visits to schools by the DEO's staff and poor communication channels. The study recommends that: the Ministry headquarters should increase funds to schools and disburse them in time and also put more emphasis on training and sensitizing the school stake holders and the community on the education Act and policies; the Provincial as well as the District Education Officers should visit schools frequently in order to monitor the school development programmes and also ensure there are good communication channels.