Factors responsible for primary school drop-out among boys in Kihara Educational Zone (2003-2012)
The importance of education as an agent of socio-economic development cannot be underscored; yet, pupils continue to drop out of primary school despite basic education being free in several nations, including Kenya. Documented information show that both boys and girls drop out of school, with gender disparity in dropout rate from region to region. In spite of this, previous researchers addressing education issues related to enrolment, retention and dropout rate are often skewed towards the girl child. This means that, there is scarcity of information on challenges facing boys in education including their dropout rate. This study sought to address this gap by investigating factors responsible for boys dropping out of primary school in Kihara Educational Zone of Kiambu County, Central Kenya. The study explored boys’ characteristics that predispose them to drop out of school. It investigated family, community and school aspects that are responsible for boys dropping out of primary school. The study was guided by social capital theory which posits that social relationship and interaction with significant others influence on individual’s behaviour and decisions they make in life. The study used descriptive survey design. It focused on boys who had dropped out of primary school since 2009 to date as well as head and class teachers. The sample size was 56, however, 54 responded. Methodologically, information was collected using in-depth interviews, key informants and survey as a way of gaining insight to factors responsible for boys’ dropout rate. Quantitative data was coded and analyzed. Qualitative data was organised to sets of observations and presented thematically according to study objectives. The findings indicate that most boys dropped out of school in upper primary, several had abused drugs and had been exposed to money at an early age. It also established that the boys were truant, had poor academic performance and low education aspiration. The findings showed that boys who had dropped out of school were from low socio-economic status, majority lived with both parents who had attained only primary school level of education and were working in the informal sectors. These parents had low value for boys education and gave more preference to girls expecting that boys can fend for themselves. The study found out that the community contributed to boys’ dropout by having a materialistic approach to life instead of education; it provided illiterate role models and converted mixed secondary schools to girls only schools; it has variety of economic activities that do not require education and high immorality that lured boys out of school. The findings also indicated that schools have some push out factors that affect boys such as, teachers sidelining boys who were weak academically, boys being sent away from school, boring lessons, boys being laughed at and humiliated by other pupils for being poor, harassment and harsh punishment especially from teachers who settle score with boys because of having conflicts with their parents in the village. The study concludes that boys who drop out of school have certain characteristics that predispose them to withdraw from school. Similarly, there are family, community and school factors that influence boys to drop out of school. As such, there is need to address issues affecting boys’ education just like it is done for the girl child. Therefore, the study recommends social change to promote and strengthen the understanding among families of the value of educating boys. It also recommend equity policies to address the separate needs of boys and girls, while still promoting gender equality as well as strategies to address the particular needs of boys as may be required.