EFFECTS OF HIDDEN COSTS IN FREE SECONDARY EDUCATION ON TRANSITION AND COMPLETION RATES IN PUBLIC BOARDING SCHOOLS IN KISII COUNTY, KENYA
NGWACHO, GEORGE AREBA
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One of the major challenges facing secondary education sector in Kenya over the years is low transition and completion rates. The initiation of Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2003 and Free Secondary Education (FSE) in 2007 in Kenya has enhanced enrollment but still a wide gap exists between primary and secondary enrolment. Financing secondary education is a great challenge to both government and households. In Kenya whereas households meet a negligible cost to cater for Free Primary Education, it is not established clearly how much they pay for Free Secondary Education. Thus cost is a key barrier to transition to secondary school especially for the poor. The study sought to establish the effects of hidden costs in the provision of Free Secondary Education on transition and completion rates in Kisii County. The objectives of the study were to: To find out the hidden costs in the provision of FSE, to establish the effect of the hidden costs on students transition rates and to establish the effect of the hidden costs on students completion rates among public boarding schools in Kisii County. This study was based on Classical Liberal Theory of Equal opportunities advanced by Sherman and Wood (1982) cited by Njeru & Orodho (2003) which expresses the view that each child possesses inborn talents which accelerate them to social promotion hence there should be equal opportunities in all educational systems and such systems should be designed without any barriers of any nature like socio-economic factors, socio-cultural factors, geographical factors and school-based factors which prevent learners from taking advantage of their inborn talents . The study used correlational research design which assisted to assess the effect of hidden costs of FSE on students‘ transition and completion rates among boarding schools in Kisii County. The target population was 60 Head teachers from 60 public boarding secondary schools in Kisii County, 641 class teachers and 240 PTA class representatives. Krejcie and Morgan (1970)‘s scientific statistical table, Stratified and simple random sampling was used to select the required sample for the study of 52 Head teachers, 234 class teachers and 148 PTA representatives. Prior to the study a pilot study was conducted to ensure validity and reliability of the research instruments. Questionnaires and interview schedules were used to collect data. The data was then analyzed by use of regression analysis, frequencies, averages, percentages and presented in tables, bar graphs and pie charts. Thematic analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. Pearson‘s correlation was used to measure the degree of relationship. Statistical tests were done at α=0.05. It was found that a significant positive relationship exited between hidden costs and students‘ transition and completion rates. This implies that though the introduction of FSE programme has greatly reduced the financial burden of public secondary school going students, parents still incur some hidden costs which to some extent contribute to low transition and completion rates. It was recommended that since the established hidden costs negatively affect access, the Government of Kenya should increase FSE budgetary allocation to schools to ease parents‘ burden. Significantly, the study findings will enable education policy-makers and other stakeholders to cope with strategies for easing parents‘ cost-burden and ways of mobilizing funds to meet the cost of FSE program to ensure its sustainability and to avoid wastage in terms of human and material resources.