Factors contributing to low enrolment of students in physics at secondary school level in central division, Garrissa district Kenya
Opondo, Muharo Barrack
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The purpose of this study was to examine the factors that contribute to low student enrolment in Physics in forms three and four in secondary schools in Central Division of Garissa District, considering the importance of Physics in industrial and technical development. The study adopted a descriptive survey design. The study was located in Central Division of Garissa District, due to the extremely low student enrolment in Physics in North Eastern Province, with the province registering just 0.1% of the national Physics KCSE candidature. The study targeted a population of 673 students in forms two and three in four public secondary schools in the locale, all Physics teachers in the same schools, all the HoDs and the headteachers of the four schools. A sample of 223 students was selected by systematic random sampling method using class registers to randomly select the students. Questionnaires and Focused Group Discussion (FGD) guides were used to conduct the survey on students, while interview schedules were used to gather information from teachers, heads of science departments and school headteachers. Validation of the instruments was done through discussion with other lecturers and by seeking expert advice through discussions, observation, comments and suggestions of the study supervisors. Instrument reliability was determined by the split half method after a pilot study. Qualitative data gathered was analysed by discussing the major themes and content in the study, tabulation of the responses and triangulation. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistical tools i.e. the mean, mode, frequencies and percentages. Excel computer program was used to draw graphs to show the relative distribution of particular responses. The main finding of the study was that previous poor performance in Physics affects student enrolment in the subject in subsequent years. School examination policies and subject selection criteria, both of which favoured Biology and Chemistry, greatly reduced student enrolment in Physics. Other subject‟s teachers, together with students‟ peers, verbally discouraged prospective students from registering for Physics. There was preferential treatment of Biology and Chemistry during procurement of practical facilities in schools, with very few Physics equipment procured. The main recommendation is that all science subjects be made compulsory as a KNEC policy so that all secondary school students study Physics, from where those who pass can then opt to further their studies in the subject to higher levels. Before this, all secondary schools should be compelled to have some students registered for Physics to reverse the low enrolment trend in view of the importance of Physics. Further, Physics teachers should strive to ensure that the few students who register for the subject pass well so as to attract future students to register in it. Finally, further research should be done regarding factors contributing to low students enrolment in Physics in mixed schools as all schools in this study were single sex schools, while the scope of the new study should encompass other parts of Kenya in order to formulate a national policy based on the current study and the new study following recommendations from both studies.