Influence of unit cost of education on students enrollment rates in public secondary schools in Tharaka south sub county, Kenya
Education forms the basis upon which economic, social and political development of any nation is founded. Due to its contribution to economic growth, enhanced productivity, national and social development, and social equity, goverments and households heavily invest in all forms of education. Despite the heavy expenditure on education by the governments and households, little attention has been given to the unit cost of education of each student, especially by age and gender. The absence of age and gender in the existing literature of unit costs of education was the source of interest for this study. This study tries to answer three questions. First, to what extent does the average household expenditure on education of every student influence enrolment in secondary schools in Tharaka South Sub-county? Secondly, to what extent does average government expenditure on every student’s education influence enrolment in secondary schools in Tharaka South Sub-County? Thirdly, is there age and gender education unit cost differentials in Tharaka South Sub-County? The study used correlational research design to establish the relationship between unit cost of education and students’ enrolment rates in public secondary schools. The data was collected from household heads and principals of secondary schools and also from Ministry of Education offices. The target population comprised all the 23,275 household heads and 26 principals of secondary schools in Tharaka South Subcounty. The Yamane’s formula was used to get a sample of 393 household heads while census was used to get the number of school principals who participated in the study. The questionnaires, interview schedule and education document analysis by interviewers were the main tools for data collection. The data were analyzed using both SPSS and STATA softwares. Through data analysis, the study established that most of households have more girls in secondary school than boys. The study also established that there is high correlation between parents’ level of education and children enrolment in secondary schools with r=0.891and p<0.05. On transport cost, the average distance from home of student to school is 24km, with day schools being closer at 12km and boarding schools being 28km away. The study revealed that the cost of girls’ school uniform is 12% higher than that of boys, and there was evidence of a high correlation between uniform cost and a student’s gender (p<0.05). Regarding the household average expenditure on education for children in public secondary schools, the study established that the unit cost of education for girls is higher than that of boys in boarding schools (the average cost for girls was Ksh 52, 474 while that for boys was Ksh 49,194). However, the situation is reversed in day schools where the unit cost for boys is higher than that of girls. The study also established that the average government expenditure per student was Ksh 27,189. The study also established that a child is less likely to enroll in a secondary school if the household expenditure is higher than the government expenditure. Thus, government education subsidies may be promoting enrollments in secondary schools. On the basis of the foregoing findings, the study recommends that more day secondary schools be built; school uniform cost for girls be subsidized; the cost of school facilities, especially buildings and laboratory equipment be provided by the government; banks and other financial institutions be given incentives to extend education loans to students; and school principals be required to adhere to secondary school fees guidelines set by the Ministry of Education.