CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTIONThis section provides an overview of the background of the study, statement of the problem, the purpose of the study, objectives of the study, scope of the study, the significance of the study and the conceptual framework of the study. It introduces the main concept of socio-economic factors influencing drop-out of students from Universities in Kenya.1.1 Background of the StudyAccording to the Education – Universalium (2012), education can be defined as the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing a person intellectually for mature life. The Education – Universalium further expound that, education is the act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge and skills, as for a profession. According to Murray (1999), education is what takes place in a societal institution of systematic planned learning.
Alvarez et al. regards education as a prime mover for the socio-economic development of countries and one that accounts for as much as 20% of the annual Gross National Product (GNP) of developing nations. According to Edward Lazear, this is considered so because education has been found to improve human productivity by imparting knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviour traits collectively referred to as human, social and cultural capital which are essential in producing goods and services.
Besides the productive value, education promotes a healthy living, harmonious co-existence, effective citizenship, population control, nutritional adequacy, and good child upbringing (Lazear, 2002).Education is still considered as a fundamental human right as well as a catalyst for economic growth and human development (World Bank, 2008). In almost all developing countries, school dropout or low completion rates have been a subject of interest to academics, researchers, and policymakers for a long time. There is a general consensus that the school dropout problem has reached epidemic proportions internationally and has become a global problem confronting the education industry around the world (Oghuvbu, 2008). A report by UNESCO (2000) on the state of the world’s children, indicate, that about 130 million children in the developing world are denied their right to education through dropping out.
To Maton and Moore (2010), the problem of dropping out should be the concern of every member of society since it has negative consequences at both the individual and social level. As a result, dropout is not a mere problem affecting or impacting an individual but one that affects the entire community as it has been observed that certain dropouts engage in crime (Jamil, et al., 2010).Education has been cited by early economic experts as the cornerstone for all economic and social stability within any country (World Bank, 2005).
Furthermore, education has the power to alleviate poverty all over the world through developing people’s skills that increase personal income and therefore the best way to attain self-reliance in economic growth and development (World Bank, 2004). Education is thus a very basic need and requires good organization so that the set Education For All (EFA) goals may be achieved. However poor organization of EFA resources has made it not to be attained and that’s why the rate of drop-out of the boy-child is on the increase (Mukudi, 2004).Kamanja (2012), argues that the boy-child of the 21st Century is faced with many problems which unless properly addressed will result in the society losing him. This tremendous boy-child drop-out rate is a global problem and researches are being done to curb it. Although there has been some progress in improving school participation since 1990 after the world conference on Education For All (EFA) in Jomtien there are still high rates of drop-out especially for boys which may be as a result of socio-economic factors in many African countries (Smith, 2011).Higher education is considered to be one of the main indicators of educational achievement in Kenya and other emerging economies in Africa (Breier, 2010).
It is specifically seen as the prerequisite to eradication of poverty in Kenya. However, Kenyan universities face significant challenges in developing students with employability skills. However, lack of employment has not been cited as a contributor to university dropout in Kenya. From a historical point of view, the Kenyan higher education system has expanded significantly since independence in 1963. By 2009, Kenya had 7 public universities, more than 22 private universities, and 12 university colleges. Higher education in public universities in Kenya is funded by the government, Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) and parents or guardians.
Access to and completion of university education in Kenya is significantly influenced by socio-economic factors. This is depicted by disparities in the fees paid by government-sponsored and privately sponsored students. Njoroge et al.
, (2016) reveals that students from poor families who fail to get government sponsorship to in higher education have a high risk of attrition and dropout.According to Kanes (2004), the problem of boy-child drop-out globally is on the rise. He points out that both high and low social classes of people are affected by the drop-out of boys from school. According to his study, 30 % of students in the United States leave school before completing the intended education cycle. A research carried out by Siddhu (2011) found that India has boy dropout rate of 12% while Asia has boy dropout rate of 5%. In Kenya, girl-child education is elusive. According to Mwangi, (2004) a combination of factors including poverty, disease and regressive cultural practices continue to deny the girl-child her right to education. Besides the introduction of Free Primary Education (FPE), access to education still remaining a wide dream to many Kenyan children especially girls who still find themselves out of school due to a number of reasons (Hunt, 2008).
Some of these reasons include; assisting in looking after their young siblings; doing house chores, child marriage, the death of a mother, and looking after the sick member of the family. Some of these young girls are married contrary to their wish and when they try to decline such proposals, they are threatened with death. Such children are usually married off at a young age in quest of dowry from the husbands. The girls continue to lament that because of such setbacks they have been unable to escape from poverty and their parents equally have nothing to show for the dowry received.
Some of the parents justify their actions of denying the girls their right to education as a way of preventing them from bringing shame to the family through teenage pregnancy (Hallman and Grant, 2006).Shiels et al. (2011) indicate that university dropout is a challenge that policymakers, parents, and college administrators across the world have faced in the past few decades.
Even though the rate of university dropout varies from college to college, province to province and country to country, policymakers, parents and college administrators need to come together to find practical and long-term solutions. Cuseo (2010) argues that the problem of university dropout is determined by the reasons why students do not complete their higher education. Notably, university dropout can be involuntary. Students who drop-out of college due to a violation of university regulations or administration non-fulfillment often leave involuntarily. Students who drop-out of university due to economic constraints also often leave involuntarily.
On the other hand, those who seek to go to another college or to pursue a different course often leave on a voluntary basis. Hunt et al. (2012) demonstrate that university dropout is a concern when students leave involuntarily.
There are some factors which extensively contribute to an increase in students’ dropout. In this respect, the findings of Holcamp (2009) support the argument that some socio-cultural factors highly impact girls’ dropout rate through those factors also contribute to boys’ dropout rate but to a lesser extent. Therefore, we can argue that some particular factors produce a poor educational outcome which consequently increases the dropout rate for girls. Therefore, from this viewpoint, the main objective of this paper is to clarify which factors contribute to the increase in the dropout rates.
Dropout rate does not arise through a single factor; it is a combination of several factors. A number of studies have been conducted on students’ dropout issue based on particular regions, societies and cultural perspectives in various parts of the world. In this paper, we accumulate the factors and illustrate a conceptual model of dropout for students which can give further opportunity to researchers to view the relevant factors on students’ dropout issue. According to Mutwol (2013), overall wastage rates in Kenya range from 30% – 40 %. This is very discouraging because the government uses a huge amount of public expenditure on education. According to the 2011 economic survey report, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MoEST) takes the lion’s share of the budget.
For example, in the financial year 2002 – 2003 the ministry was allocated 64.1 Billion shillings, with this figure rising to 193.3 billion shillings in the financial year 2010 – 2011 (Mudemb, 2013).Findings from the Ministry of Education Science and Technology reveal that not all the students who enroll in Universities finish with their education cycle (MoEST, 2007). It is thus clear that some students drop-out due to varying individual reasons. It has already been noted that a high number of dropout in the public universities are boys. Moreover, despite the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) disbursement and bursary allocations to the needy students (boys) in public universities, students have continued to drop-out (MoEST, 2007).
This massive dropout of boys is thus a cause for alarm.It is against this backdrop that this investigation seeks to find out the relationship between socio-economic factors and university drop-out rates in the public universities in Kenya. Where the study will seek to answer the following questions: How does a parental level of income contribute to the rate of students drop-out in Kenyan public universities? What is the relationship between the size of the family and the drop-out rate from Kenyan public universities? and; What is the relationship between parental education status and the dropout rate of students from Kenyan public universities? The study will focus on socio-economic factors that influence college dropouts in Public Universities in Kenya.
Where, dependent variable, University Drop-out as affected by the independent variables, socio-economic factors which have the elements namely parents’ level of education, parental income level and the size of the family.1.2 Statement of the Problem University dropout in Kenya is one of the topical areas in sociology of education that has not been addressed by researchers. The specific socio-economic factors that influence the high rate of dropout of students from universities in Kenya have not been explored by researchers. This is regardless of the close correlation between socio-economic status and student attrition in universities. University dropout impacts negatively on students, families and the Kenyan community at large. This is because inability of students to finish their education impacts negatively on their overall wellbeing and participation in growing the local economy. Lack of research on the socio-economic characteristics that contribute to increase in university dropout in Kenya reveals that policy makers and other stakeholders have no scientific basis for implementation of practical solutions to the problem.
Planning for positive educational outcomes of students at the community, university and national level requires access to reliable scientific data. This planning is important because high rates of university dropout impacts negatively on the realization of Kenya’s vision 2030. Research findings indicating the rate of attrition in Kenyan universities is 37% (Njoroge et al., 2016) are worrying. This is because universities that record a high rate of attrition suffer from high rates of dropout (Clinciu, 2013). Poor graduation rates from medical and engineering courses offered in Kenyan universities indicates that the current problem of inadequacy of professionals will persist. Therefore, it was important to undertake the study to investigate the background characteristics of students influencing drop-out rate of public universities in Kenya. 1.
3 Purpose of the Study The purpose of the study was to investigate the influence of background characteristics of students on dropout rate from public universities and colleges in Kenya. 1.4 Objectives of the Study 1.4.1 General ObjectiveThe main objective of the study is to describe the background characteristics of students that influence dropout rate from Kenyan public universities. 1.
4.2 Specific ObjectiveThe specific objectives of the study are highlighted below. 1. To establish the influence of parental level of education on the drop-out of students from public universities case study Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.2. To determine the relationships between the parental level of income and dropout of students from public universities case study Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.3.
To find out the influence of the family size on drop-out of students from public universities, case study Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.1.5 Research Questions1. What is the relationship between parental education status and the dropout rate of students from Kenyan public universities?2. How does parental level of income contribute to the rate of students’ dropout in Kenya public universities? 3. What is the relationship between the size of the family and dropout rates of students from Kenyan public universities?1.
5 Significance of the Study The study will contribute to an in-depth understanding of socio-economic factors and student characteristics that contribute to the rate of university dropout in Kenya. Through this study, stakeholders, who include the government, universities, the community, and parents, will be able to understand the problem of university dropout from a theoretical framework. The study will also provide a clear picture of the challenges that cause university dropouts from firsthand accounts of students in public universities. This means that the study will provide a realistic view of the problem that will shape the adoption and implementation of practical solutions. More importantly, the study will clarify on a specific student, university, family and community factors that cause an increase in university dropout rate in Kenya with a view of recommended relevant solutions. In addition, the findings of the study will allow stakeholders to determine the changes they need to implement in order to increase the chances of students graduating from universities.
Problematic socio-economic characteristics of students that contribute to the rate of dropout from Kenyan universities will be revealed through the study. This will enable universities to implement effective regulatory and policy frameworks that promote positive social behaviors among students. Furthermore, the study will influence positive policy changes pertaining to the funding of higher education in Kenya. Such changes will enable students with socio-economic challenges to finish their academic programs and graduate. The findings and recommendations of the study will contribute to the realization of Kenya’s Vision 2030.
This is because an increase in completion rates will promote the development of the local economy due to the contribution of graduates to positive social and economic change. The study will also fill current gaps in the literature on socio-economic factors and characteristics of students that contribute to high university dropouts in Kenya. Therefore, the research will add into current knowledge on the experiences of university students, the challenges they face and solutions that will enhance their chances of completing their higher education within the stipulated period of time.1.6 Scope and LimitationsThe study will be limited to public universities in Kenya.
Notably, the study will focus on assessing the experiences of students in public universities in the context of socio-economic factors. The study will also be limited to government-sponsored students. In this sense, the research will seek to assess the specific socio-economic attributes or characteristics of government-sponsored students in public universities that influence their studies and propensity to complete higher education and graduate. Research data will be collected from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW2.1 IntroductionThe second chapter presents a critical review of empirical literature relevant to the study topic.
The focus of the review is recent research literature on background characteristics of students influencing the high rates of dropout among students in Kenyan universities. The literature review begins with an examination of theories related to the topic. The theories examined in the literature review chapter include Human Capital theory and Theories of Poverty: Social Capital and Social Exclusion. A conceptual framework is also developed within the chapter with a purpose of developing relationships between theory and the variables of the study. The variables under review are background characteristics and university dropout. The aforementioned variables are reviewed in relation to current empirical studies on the topic under investigation. The aim of the literature review is to critique and discuss the methods, findings, and analysis of data by the researchers to selected empirical studies.
The review also entails linking current literature with the present study. More importantly, research gaps within the reviewed empirical articles are identified as a basis of justifying the present study.2.2 Theoretical Framework 2.
2.1 Human capital theory This is also known as rotten kid theorem of Gary Becker (1930) which shows that; education training and medical treatment contribute to the accumulation of human capital (Borjas, 2000). According to this theory, investments in human capital increase the likelihoods for economic success. Completion of university education becomes the second step in starting the process of increased human capital investment, after secondary school. By completing university education, people will gain skills and knowledge that will make him perform better in the labour force.
This theory emphasizes the importance of investment in human capital such as university education for economic success. Economic success, therefore, comes with completing university education. Majority of the human capital investments that would lead to economic success must be transferred from parents to their children through education. Parents should empower their children by supporting and paying for their fees in colleges and universities so as to increase human capital investment. Family socio-economic factors such as family size, parental level of education and parental income that may influence student drop-out have much impact on human capital accumulation. Families from low socio-economic class obtain less human capital to pass on to their children hence causing their children drop-out from college. It is therefore concluded that lower family investment in children’s human capital due to a lower socio-economic factor would increase the chances of the student dropping out of public universities in Kenya.
2.2.2 Theories of Poverty: Social Capital and Social ExclusionSocial exclusion and social capital theories are applicable to understanding why specific groups in the society are overrepresented in the poor population (Hickey & Du Toit, 2013). The social capital theory postulates that people who have limited access to resources that enable them to build social relations are likely to be poor. Notably, social capital resources include networks, collective action, trusts, and norms.
Estrin, Mickiewicz & Stephan (2013) demonstrate that social capital resources enable members of the community to effectively bargain for socioeconomic resources. People who lack access to professional networks have an increased chance of being unemployed or poor. Communities that do not have platforms for collective action to advocate for a positive change in social policies are often disadvantaged economically. In addition, societies that lack norms, such as equality of citizens tend to have disparities in education, employment, and income (Hickey & Du Toit, 2013). Kenyan families that are socially excluded tend to be poor and unable to cater for needs, such as education and healthcare (Muyanga, Jayne, & Burke, 2013).Social exclusion refers to the disadvantage some groups in the social experience in the context of access to socioeconomic opportunities, including education, employment, healthcare, and upward social mobility. It occurs when some people in a community or population are denied various rights and socioeconomic opportunities that are available to others (Estrin et al.
, 2013). People, households and communities that are denied rights such as democratic participation, housing, and civic engagement have an increased risk of being poor. Poverty in the Kenyan society is directly associated with social exclusion. For example, parents who do not have access to education and employment are likely to be poor and unable to afford the education of their children (Mwangi & Ouma, 2012).In his early work, Rowntree avoided discussing the ultimate causes of poverty and equated such a discussion with an attempt to raise the whole social question. Instead, he simply listed the immediate causes of primary poverty (or earnings ‘insufficient to obtain the minimum necessaries for the maintenance of merely physical efficiency’) as: 1.
Death of chief wage-earner. 2. Incapacity of chief wage-earner through accident, illness or old age.
3. Chief wage-earner out of work. 4. The chronic irregularity of work.
5. The largeness of family. 6. The lowness of wage.
Rowntree usefully identified a cycle of poverty – children, young married couples with children and old people running the highest risk of descending into poverty. But otherwise no effort was made to relate these groups to the range and qualifying conditions for membership of the employment system; the differential wage-system and the sources of support for it in institutions and values; and the systems compensating people unable to work or excluded from earning a living. The division of the population into different social categories and the allocation to some of the relatively low resources and status play a huge role in university dropouts as school is not seen as a priority. The process by which some groups are assigned low resources or status can, of course, be negative, as the outcome of action on behalf of other groups, and not only positive. If they are disqualified from receiving new services established by the state, or new kinds or amounts of resources made possible by a growing economy, they can experience a gradual fall into deprivation without there being any explicit discrimination against them.2.3 Conceptual FrameworkA conceptual framework refers to a tool that is used to organize and analyze relationships between ideas or concepts. In the case of the present study, a conceptual framework can be used to understand relationships between research variables.
The use of a conceptual framework will also allow translation of theory into an understanding of the variables of the present study. Notably, background characteristics are the dependent variables of the study while university dropout is the independent variable. The interaction between dependent variables and their impact on university dropouts are illustrated on the conceptual framework on Figure 1 below. Dependent variables Independent variableFigure 2.
1 Conceptual Framework This study will investigate the socio economic characteristics that are suspected to influence student drop-out from public universities in Kenya. Socio-economic factors are the factors that emanate from societies social and economic way of life that affect the learners schooling (Kimondo, 2007). There are many socio-economic factors that may cause student drop-out of