The impact of free primary education on academic performance in public primary schools in Mombasa County: Kenya
Mwendwa, Lydia K
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The main focus of the study was to investigate the impact of Free Primary Education in public primary schools since its inception in 2003. The specific objectives of the study were to find out the extent teacher pupil ratio influences academic performance, establish the challenges in school administration, assess the influence of physical facilities and determine the relationship between the teacher's professionalism and academic performance in public primary schools in Mombasa County. Literature reviewed indicated that FPE had an impact on performance, however its impact was influenced by various factors included teacher pupil ratio, administrative practices, teacher professionalism and availability of physical facilities. It also indicated that there was a marked increase in pupil enrolment since 2003. Currently the total number of pupils in primary schools is higher than those in the other levels of education. Review of related literature indicated that teacher professionalism, competence and workload are critical to effective implementation of FPE. Student teacher ratio and availability of instructional materials and resources are equally critical in FPE implementation. Researcher developed own model based on the independent and dependent variables. The study adopted a descriptive survey design that was both qualitative and quantitative. The study was carried out in 9 public primary schools, in Mombasa county, Coast province; 9 Head teachers, 36 teachers, and 18 students randomly selected participated in the study. Research instruments were questionnaires and an observation checklist. Piloting was done in a school randomly sampled using the simple random sampling lottery technique. Reliability of the instruments was measured using the split halves method. Content validity, was done through a panel of experts. Data analysis involved a variety of descriptive and inferential statistics. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to prepare code books, tabulations and draw up statistical inferences. The study findings were that the teachers were highly qualified and experienced although inadequate, and that teacher pupil ratio, availability of physical facilities and teacher professionalism all influenced academic performance, The main challenges the administration faced were high pupil enrolment, inadequate teachers and instructional materials. The study also found that schools had physical facilities but inadequate. Conclusions of the study were that academic performance in public schools was declining, and that poor class conditions impacted negatively on performance. FPE had a positive impact on pupil enrolment giving more pupils an opportunity to access primary education which was initially elusive. The study recommended that the government should employ more teachers, increase the FPE funding, and ensure proper monitoring and evaluation to enhance efficiency in the utilization of the FPE funds. The school administrative systems should adopt participative leadership, prioritize FPE funded projects and involve all stake holders in resource mobilization. The study further suggested a nationwide study to determine the impact of FPE programme on performance.