Institutional factors influencing students’ participation in public secondary schools in Mwingi Central Sub - County, Kitui County, Kenya
The purpose of this study was to unearth the institutional factors influencing students’ participation in public secondary schools in Mwingi central Sub - County, Kitui County, Kenya. The study used descriptive research survey design, in which data were collected and analyzed from 18 principals, 36 class teachers and 180 form three and form four students by means of questionnaires, interviews and direct observation. The research study was guided by four research objectives. The first objective was assessing the extent to which Free Day Secondary Education programme influence students’ participation rates. It was established that 100% principals, teachers and students confirmed that the funds allocated to their schools by the government were not enough to meet the school needs and there were delays in disbursement of the funds to the needy students. 88.9% of teachers and 98.9% of students indicated that students have continued to drop out of school due to high cost of secondary education despite the government initiatives to enhance participation rates like FDSE programme, bursaries and CDF funds. The principals and teachers recommended that government increase its skimpy budget allocations to schools, by providing funds so as to ensure smooth running of educational activities. The second objective examined the influence of parental level of education on students’ participation rates. It was found that majority of parents in Mwingi central sub - County were illiterate and this had a bearing on students’ enrolment and participation rates according to 55.6% of the principals. It was concluded that low education levels of parents lowered participation rates in public secondary schools. Class teachers and head teachers recommended that, parents and members of the community should be sensitized on the need to provide equal educational opportunities for all children regardless of their gender through guidance and counseling as early as possible. The third objective was determining the influence of availability of school physical infrastructure on students’ participation rates. It was established that 90% of the secondary schools lacked vital physical infrastructures that could ensure high participation rates. 100% of the Principals, teachers and students concluded school physical infrastructure highly influenced participation rates. Majority of the principals and students recommended the equipping of the already existing schools to enhance secondary school participation. The fourth objective was to establish the influence of distance to school on students’ participation. It was established that 89% of the secondary schools in Mwingi Central Sub – county were mixed day schools. From the research findings, it was concluded that majority of students walk long distances to access secondary education and this had a bearing on the enrolment, completion and retention rates. Students recommended that education stake holders should immediately build more schools so as to avoid the problems of covering long distances to school. It was established that individual differences in terms of poverty index, persistent drought, insecurity, cultural beliefs, parental levels of education, distance to school, inadequate FDSE government funding and school physical infrastructure, has a bearing in secondary schooling hence creating a complexity in achieving 100% secondary participation rates in Mwingi central sub – County. It was also established that processes taken by the school administrators and other education officials in ensuring teaching and learning is provided according to the required standards played a major role in influencing participation rates in public secondary schools in Mwingi central Sub – County of Kitui county.