Assessing the impacts of climate variability on the academic perfomance of pupils in Siaya County, Kenya.
The occurrence of extreme weather conditions is not uncommon in various parts of Kenya including Siaya County. Adverse weather conditions affect the learning process and this subsequently affects the level of performance in the national examination. The study assessed the impact of climate variability on academic performance in Siaya County. The data used was rainfall, minimum and maximum temperature and performance at KCPE for Siaya County. The climatic data was obtained from Kenya Meteorological Department while data on performance was obtained from head-teachers in Siaya County. The temporal variations of climatic variables were determined through time series analysis. The time series components analyzed included, the annual cycle, inter annual variability and trends. The trend on academic performance was also examined. The effect of climatic variation on academic performance was examined through correlation and regression analysis. The spatial coherence of performance throughout the county was determined using Principal Component Analysis. In order to evaluate how the residents of this county cope with the impacts of adverse weather, a survey using questionnaire was undertaken. The results from the study revealed that the Maximum and Minimum temperature is bimodal with the peaks of the minimum temperature occurring in April and November while of the Maximum temperature the peaks occur in February and October. The county has two rainfall seasons namely; March – May and September – December with the peaks occurring in April and November respectively. All the three climatic elements showed inter annual variability; however rainfall variability was higher compared to the other parameters. Both Minimum and Maximum temperatures showed significant positive trend. The rainfall on the other hand has negative trend though not statistically significant. However, the variance in the rainfall has been increasing in the recent years which are consistent with the observed increased frequency in extreme rainfall events. There is an inverse relationship between minimum temperature and KCPE performance with August having the highest correlation. Cold night temperatures enhance concentration doring studies at night by pupils. Even though KCPE is done in November, the month of August is significant because most of the syllabi ought to be covered by this time to allow for revision and vi the accumulative effect of climate variations of the month affects performance in November. The correlation with maximum temperature was generally positive during the cold month and negative during the hot month. The correlation with rainfall was positive though not statistically significant. The regression model developed to predict performance using the three climate parameters explained more than 60% of the variance in each of the sub counties. Clustering of the sub county performance reflected the level of intervention against the impact of extreme weather events. Results from the survey done revealed that a part from the three weather variables under study; other factors like windstorm, thunderstorm, lightning and biting cold affect learning which in turn affect performance. Most of the respondents also noted that maximum temperatures have become much hotter than before. On set of rains have shifted. Food scarcity, drought, poor health affect academic performance. The number of cases of absenteesim in wet and dry season increases and the level of concentration reduces in high maximum temperatures. Some school roof tops have been blown away by windstorms and some pupils have died due to lightning and thunderstorms. Children have been affected by floods as they move to and from school and this have affected curriculum delivery. The major causes of absenteesim in schools are malaria/cholera followed by famine. Some of the strategies put in place to cope with the effect of climate variability are having feeding programs at school, water harvesting, learning under trees, adjusting learning time, carrying water from home. In conclusion, the extreme weather condition was found to negatively impact on academic performance. The research recommended up scaling of adaptation strategies to cope with the climate variability. The results are also useful in planning and managing risks and disasters associated with climate variability in schools.
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