Social factors that influence the attendance and participation of pupils in public primary schools in Yatta district, Machakos county, Kenya
The study set out to establish factors influencing the attendance and participation of pupils in public primary schools in Yatta District, Machakos County, Kenya. The objectives of the study were to establish the extent to which availability of food in schools influences attendance and participation among pupils in Primary schools in Yatta District, Machakos County, to determine the influence of health status of a pupil on attendance and participation in Primary schools in Yatta District, Machakos County, to establish the influence of the level of household income on attendance and participation among pupils in Primary schools in Yatta District, Machakos County and to investigate the influence of home social support on attendance and participation among pupils in Primary school in Yatta District, Machakos County. Attendance and participation of pupils in primary schools is an important factor in school success. Most interventions on attendance and participation in primary school fail to target what actually influences the decision of the pupils to absent themselves from schools. More than half the children aged 3-5 years in Machakos County are not attending preschool with learning levels in the county being lower than the national average. 13% of pupils are absent from school on any given day. Most interventions targeting absenteeism focus on the consequences rather than the root causes. The study was conducted as a descriptive survey research design. The target population was 62,500 primary school pupils and 1,000 teachers of 175 public primary schools in Yatta District, Machakos County. Primary school pupils and teachers were chosen as the population for this study since they possess vital information on the attendance and participation of pupils in class. Further, both were more likely to grasp the questions posed and answer them appropriately. Sample size was determined by use of Fischer equation (n=Z2pq/e2). Systematic random sampling was used in this study to determine the 25 schools that participated in the study whereas Simple random sampling was employed to determine the 175 pupils and 100 teachers that participated in the study. Questionnaires were pre-tested at Matuu Holy Ghost Memorial Primary school, Yatta District, Machakos County. Data was collected by the researcher over a period of four weeks by the use of self-administered questionnaires which were given to the sampled participants after reading out the letter of introduction to them. This was done after authority was granted by the administration of Yatta district. Use of PASW (Predictive Analysis Software) Statistics 18 was employed for data analysis. The key findings were that social factors such as availability of food in school, pupil’s health condition, level of household income and availability of parent(s)/guardian(s) support significantly influence the attendance and participation of pupils in public primary schools in Yatta District, Machakos County. Recommendations were that Interventions targeting the adoption of school feeding programme in schools school be encouraged in public primary schools as they would motivate enrolment, attendance and participation of pupils. Sensitization for both parents and pupils on the importance of achieving and maintaining good health should be encouraged as this would ensure there is minimum interference with the attendance patterns of pupils and parents should also be encouraged to show concern about the academic progress of their children through seminars and sensitization sessions aimed at equipping them with the requisite knowledge and expertise for good parenting. Moreover, poverty eradication efforts need to be stepped up in both urban slums and rural areas as poorer households are more likely to have poor attendance and participatory patterns of pupils compared to richer families. Further studies on this topic are recommended.