A situational analysis of wastage in public primary schools in Embu county, Kenya
Mwangangi, Njeru Nebat
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Many governments have made commitment to expand educational opportunities for children by 2015. This is mainly in response to international conventions which recognize education as a necessity and a fundamental human right. Despite these efforts, wastage in form of drop outs and repetition inhibits the realization of the set goals particularly the Universal Primary Education. Implementation of Free Primary Education in Kenya in 2003 was a milestone but wastage is a challenge towards its achievement. The purpose of the study was to assess wastage in public primary schools in Embu County in order to highlight and suggest solutions to the problem. The project identified the forms of wastage, found out the extent and magnitude of wastage and also the impact of wastage as measured by primary school completion rates and eventually identified appropriate strategies to mitigate wastage in public primary schools in Embu County. The study employed the Classical Liberal Theory by Jean Jacques Rousseau (1754). The theory states that education systems should be designed so as to remove barriers that prevent children from pursuing education efficiently. The study adopted a descriptive survey study. It targeted the 372 public primary schools in Embu County. Through purposive sampling technique the researcher selected one boarding school, one special school and eleven day schools. The sample for the study comprised 156 pupils, 13 head teachers, 13 senior teachers, 13 school management committee (SMC) members from the 13 primary schools and 5 education officers. Thus, the total population of the respondents was 200. Data was collected by administering questionnaire and interview schedules to pupils, teachers, SMC and education officers. Piloting of the research instruments was done in two schools. Test-retest technique was used to assess reliability of the instruments. Content validity was used to test how accurately the data obtained in thestudy represents the variables of the study. Data collected was analyzed using descriptive statistics such as means, percentages and frequencies. The data was presented using tables, figures and graphs. The research findings indicated that the major form of wastage was repetition which prevailed mainly in the exam and pre- exam grades with failure to attain certaiu grades in class as the major basis of pupils' repetition. Analysis showed that drop out was highest in Standard 7 with the total dropout rate for boys higher than girls. The study indicated that wastage had negative impact on primary school completion rates. It was also found out that wastage could be mitigated through improvement of the quality of teaching, allocation of adequate teaching and learning resources and creating conducive learning environment. From the findings, the researcher highly recommends that the Government of Kenya should continue to support the Free Primary Education policy and enhance its effectiveness in enhancing access to education. Having observed that repetition is almost as bad and that it often leads to dropout, educational policy makers should pay more attention to repetition. Suggestion for further research is on the challenges facing pupils during their transition from lower primary (Std. 1-3) to upper primary (Std 4-8).