Challenges of implementing free day secondary education strategy among public secondary schools in Ugenya sub-county, Kenya
Strategy is integral to the success of an organisation since it offers definition to its business direction, performance level and competitive edge. More often, alot of effort is put on strategy design than actual implementation or diregard of processes that offer timely identification and mitigation of implementation challenges by managers leading to undesired results. Noble strategies deployed more so in the public sector suffer most leading to their collapse. Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) introduced by the Kenyan government in 2008 as a strategy to increase access, lower household costs and improve academic performance in public secondary schools through an annual Kshs. 10,265 subsidy per student has over the 2008-2012 period, achieved rise in students’ enrolment to 1.77 Million, number of schools to over 6,051, Kshs. 17.5 Billion annual disbursement and improved student-book ratio. However, implementation challenges that might hinder its success and sustainability have over this time frame not been fully investigated. This study sought to establish the challenges experienced by public secondary school principals in FDSE implementation in Ugenya sub-county as well as determine the mitigation measures put in place to overcome the challenges. A total of 24 principals of public secondary schools were targeted in this descriptive census survey study in the sub-county whereby semi-structured questionnaires were utilised to gather data. Quantitative data captured from the respondents was coded, fed into a computer spreadsheet then analysed using SPSS software through descriptive statistics measures. The results were presented as frequency tables, pie charts and bar graphs. Inspite of student enrolment rising by 44.8% in Ugenya sub-county in the 2008-2012 period of FDSE execution, high inflation leading to high food and fuel prices, inadequacy and delays in disbursement of FDSE funds, poor communication, insufficient physical facilities and teaching staff leading to heavy teaching load were the major challenges faced by principals in implementing FDSE. To mitigate on these, 75% of schools practised day-schooling to cut down on recurrent costs and increase access, 42% of teachers were on temporary employment to reduce teaching workload and encouragement of fee payment by use of alternatives. From these findings, FDSE fund need to be doubled and disbursed promptly. In Ugenya sub-county there is need to increase investment in physical and learning resources, teaching staff, undertake routine external audit, enhance Information Technology integration to improve on communication and inservicing of principals in strategic management practices to instil creativity for proper government strategy implementation. Results from this study reinforce the need to break down strategy implementation to incorporate systematic planning cycles as well as investigate the impact of these mitigation measures on performance of such public sector-oriented strategies.