The number of students reported to have dropped out of secondary schools in Kenya is alarming and the Ministry of Education should look into the matter.
According to statistics by the Kenya National Examinations Council, out of the 521,601 students admitted in secondary school in 2011, almost 38,000 (7.8 percent) dropped out.
While announcing the 2014 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) results on Tuesday, Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi raised concerns over the issue and called for an “expert intervention” into the matter.
“This is a matter of great concern to the ministry when you consider the huge resources that the government has invested in secondary school education,” he said.
Prof Kaimenyi directed the Education Standards and Quality Assurance Council to investigate the factors fuelling this worrying trend and recommend appropriate ways of addressing the issue.
“This issue should be investigated in detail as quickly as possible to enable us put in place appropriate interventions before things get out of hand. Drop-out rates must be addressed urgently. We cannot afford to wait any further,” he said.
The Chairman of the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association, John Awiti, also expressed concerns about the high number of drop-outs and urged headteachers to take action.
“A figure of 37,900 students is too high, not to mention the large number of primary school graduates who miss places in secondary schools. Headteachers cannot afford to ignore this. Even though the issue is complex and many factors contribute to it, this is no excuse for us not to act,” said Mr Awiti.
DRUG ABUSE AND EARLY MARRIAGES LINKED TO SCHOOL DROPPING
School drop-out has been attributed to various factors such as drugs and alcoholism especially to boys and early marriages and pregnancies when it comes to their female counterparts.
In spite of the government policies to enhance enrolments in secondary sub-sector, the girl’s participation, retention, transition and completion at secondary school education level are lower than boys.
In northeastern Kenya for instance, there are more girls than boys dropping out of school, owing to the retrogressive cultural practices that encourage early marriages.
Other factors which also play a key role as cited in various studies include lack of fees and mistreatment by teachers.
Education is a critical issue in a country’s development process and it’s therefore crucial for the government to address the alarming rates of young people dropping out of school at the secondary level, which is a key stage that links learners to tertiary institutions of education.