Education is such a very important social service that ought to be freely available to all children and to be supported out of the government's revenue.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of Free Primary Education on pupils' participation in primary schools. Specifically, the study aimed at accomplishing the following objectives: to determine the influence of FPE on school enrolment, repetition and drop-out.
The study used ex post facto research design. Two sets of questionnaires were designed for the head teachers and class teachers and an, interview schedule for the AEO. Simple random and purposive sampling techniques were used in selecting the study sample.
The sample consisted of 30 head teachers, 90 class teachers of standard one to three and one Area Education Officer (AEO) of the Bumula Division. The data obtained was analyzed and interpreted using descriptive statistics of mean, percentage and frequency. Findings show that the abolition of payment of school fees through FPE led to increased enrolments in primary schools. Between 2003, the year of removal of payment, and 2005 enrolments increased by 1351 pupils (96.1%) out of a total of 1406 total a pupil enrolment increment between 2001 to 2005. Although enrolments were highest in Standard One, the number of children enrolled in other grades 2 and 3 also increased, in the period 2003-2005. Standard One enrolment was 6205 pupils, Std Two was 5460 pupils and Std Three was 5383 pupils in Bumula Division, Bungoma District
The study further reveals that pupils still repeat in many primary schools. In lower primary (Std 1 -3) repetition was majorly caused by lack of pupil interest in academic work, health problems and unsuitable studying conditions at home leading to poor performance hence repetition. In upper primary (Std 4 -8) repetition was high in standard seven.
Head teachers admit few pupils in standard eight in an attempt to increase their schools' mean scores in examination.
On withdrawal, the study shows that the rates recorded before 2003 were higher than those recorded after 2003. Between 2001 to 2002, 1059 pupils dropped out of school compared to only 556 pupils who withdrew after 2003. Withdrawal was majorly caused by lack of encouragement by parents and peer influence.
Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations can be made: -
- The government should abolish all Levies, subsidiary to school fees and instead step in directly to finance and support all school projects and activities.
- The government needs to decentralize disbursement of funds to schools to the district level as it has done with the constituency development fund to enable them get the money promptly.