This study investigated the effect of quality management practices on the performance of public primary schools in Nakuru Municipality, Kenya. The research objectives were to; determine the extent to which QM practices have been applied in public primary schools and determine the effect of QM practices on performance in public primary schools within Nakuru Municipality. The study used a census survey of all the 60 public primary schools and the respondents of the study were 60 head teachers from all the public primary schools in Nakuru Municipality. The study used structured questionnaires to gather data from school head teachers. Data was analyzed with help of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS).Descriptive statistics mean, median, mode, percentages were used. Inferential statistics regression analysis technique was used to analyze data. Study findings showed that competitive benchmarking, training as well as reward and recognition were achieved moderately whereas teamwork and customer focus were marginally achieved in the public primary schools in the study area. Quality management practices (top management commitment, teamwork, continuous improvement, competitive benchmarking, training, reward and recognition and customer focus) were found to significantly influence performance among schools in the study area. This study recommended the need to strengthen these elements of quality management practices in order to realize meaningful performance; effective application of quality management practices among other strategies in order to achieve measurable improvement in the performance. There is need for stakeholders in the public primary schools to increasingly and effectively implement the identified quality management practices in order to realize increased levels of performance especially in KCPE mean score, enrolment and co-curricular activities.

Background to the Study 
Quality Management is generally described as a collective, interlinked system of quality management practices that is associated with organizational performance (Cua et al. 2001), and Kaynak (2003), underlined the importance of causal relations between quality management practices. Feigenbaum (1994) contend that “quality of education” is the key factor in “invisible” competition between countries since the quality of products and services is determined by the way that “managers, teachers, workers, engineers, and economists think, act, and make decisions about quality”. Education is being driven towards commercial competition imposed by economic forces (Seymour, 1992). 

Quality Management presents a strategic option and an integrated management philosophy for organizations, which allows them to reach their objectives effectively and efficiently, and to achieve sustainable competitive advantage (Goldberg and Cole, 2002).Even Total Quality Management (TQM) promoters agree that organizations have not found it so easy to implement the quality Management Practices and to achieve the expected benefits (Kirk, 2000). More critically, Brown (2000) concluded that there are still organizations where, despite this criticism, the quality management philosophy mechanism for contributing to better performances. This study extends previous research on the Quality Management Practices by establishing the impact of Quality Management practices on performance in public primary schools. 

Quality authorities like Joseph Juran (1950’s); Edward Deming (1950’s) and Philip Crosby (1980’s) have put forth several approaches to improve organization performance. These approaches are embodied in a set of quality management practices, known as Total Quality Management (TQM). On account of these policies, different approaches have been adopted for the introduction of quality management in organizations, such as top management commitment, quality planning, education and training, teamwork, continuous improvement, benchmarking, teacher empowerment and external assessment of the institutions, and different models of TQM (Wiklund et al., 2003). 

Nakuru Municipality 
Nakuru, the capital of Kenya’s Rift Valley Province, is located 160 kilometres northwest of Nairobi, along the Kenya-Uganda highway, at an altitude of 1800 metres. Founded by the British colonial authorities at the beginning of the 20th century as a station along the Ugandan Railway, Nakuru later became a service centre for a fertile agricultural hinterland occupied by white settlers.Nakuru as a county is divided into nine districts one of which is Nakuru municipality (Foekenn and Owour,2000).Education services available in Nakuru municipality include pre- primary, primary, secondary and tertiary education .The municipal council and the private sector are the major providers of educational services. There are 60 government-aided primary schools and 45 privately-run primary schools in the municipality. Nakuru Municipality is divided into five education zones which are Eastern zone, Central zone, Western zone, Northern zone and Southern zone. Eastern zone has sixteen public primary schools with 257 teachers, Central zone has 11 primary schools and 175 teachers, Western zone has 11 primary schools and 252 teachers, Northern zone has 9 primary schools and 202 teachers, Southern zone has 13 primary schools and 237 teachers, Enrollment in public primary schools within Nakuru Municipality currently stands at 49,607 pupils represented by 24,775 boys and 24, 832 girls spread over 1050 classrooms (UNESCO, 2005). 

Quality Assurance and Standards in Education in Kenya 
The Ministry of Education in Kenya is responsible for centrally providing educational services in the country. The ministry’s vision is “to provide quality education for development” while its mission is “to provide, promote and co-ordinate lifelong education, training and research for Kenya’s sustainable development” (Ministry of Education Strategic Plan 2006-2011, 2005).At independence in 1963, the Kenya government recognized education as a basic human right and a powerful tool for human resource and national development. Since then, policy documents have reiterated the importance of education in eliminating poverty, disease and ignorance (Ominde Report, 1964). Ministry of Education (2005) states that the government is fully committed to an education system that guarantees the right of every learner to quality and relevant education. Chapman and Carrier (1990) emphasized that particular attention should be given to the issues concerning educational quality and improvement strategies in the developing world. It is in this light that the Ministry of Education deemed it necessary to improve its inspection wing by restructuring it and changing its name from The Inspectorate in 2004 to the Directorate of Quality Assurance and Standards DQAS (Sessional Paper no.1, 2005). In the restructuring there was the creation of the Directorate of Quality Assurance and Standards at the National, provincial, district and divisional levels. At the provincial level there is the Provincial Quality Assurance Officers (PQASO) in charge of quality assurance in both primary and secondary schools. At the district level we have District Quality Assurance Officers (DQASO) in charge of quality assurance in both primary and secondary schools. At all levels the incumbent Directorate of Quality Assurance and Standards constitutes the Directorate of Quality Assurance and Standards for school quality and standards assessment. 

At school level principals and deputy principals are the designated internal quality assurance officers and at departmental level the heads of departments are the designated quality assurance and standards officers (Sessional Paper no.1, 2005). School prefects are mandated to assist school administrators in carrying out duties and responsibilities that enhance quality of education in Kenya. These duties and responsibilities include supervision of curricular activities such as preps and co- curricular activities such as drama, music and subject based clubs (Secondary schools Heads manual, 1979). The functions of Quality Assurance and Standards Officers include having regular reporting on the general quality of education, identifying educational institutional needs for improvement, ensuring that quality teaching is taking place in the institutions, monitoring the performance of teachers and educational institutions in accordance with all round standard performance indicators, ensuring equitable distribution of teachers by working out the curriculum based establishment, carrying out regular assessment of all educational institutions , advising on the provision of proper and adequate facilities in educational institutions, ensuring that the appropriate curriculum is implemented in educational institutions, encouraging a collaborative and corporate approach to educational institutional management among the various stakeholders, and organizing and administering co curricular activities with a view to developing all round learners (Wasanga, 2007). 

The implementation of free primary education in Kenya 
Since independence, the Kenya government has had two attempts or interventions of implementing free primary education (Sifuna, 2005). The first was in the 1970s, which was unsuccessful, and the second is the current one which was introduced in January 2003 (Sifuna, 2005). The second attempt is just what Sifuna describes as a re-introduction of the free primary education policy or rather a repeat (Sifuna, 2005). 

Since independence the Kenya government has always desired to offer free primary education programme in order to reach and support the children of the disadvantaged communities (Sifuna, 2005; Rob et al., 2004). With the introduction of Free Primary Education (FPE) the schools lost revenue as a result of the abolition of tuition fees and other levies and there was significant pressure on the physical facilities and teaching staff. There was overcrowding in classrooms and the supply of teaching and learning materials underwent a severe strain. In terms of the teaching force, at the time of the pronouncement the country was already experiencing serious shortage of properly trained teachers (Sifuna, 2005). 

As a result of the introduction of FPE an estimated 1.5 million children who were previously out of school were enrolled in primary education. The government was praised because of implementing the FPE policy, which was described as laudable (Rob et al. 2004). Provision of instructional materials especially textbooks was recognized as one of the major achievements of the FPE programme (UNESCO, 2005). But Yieke (2006) and UNESCO (2005) note that the policy was rushed without consultation with various key stakeholders such as teachers and parents, among others. Many issues were rushed through without being addressed adequately. 

According to Sifuna (2005) the government did not carry out a situation analysis before implementing FPE. The result was serious confusion amongst teachers, parents, school committees, sponsors and local donors. Also there was still lack of clear guidelines on admission, resulting in the entry of over-age children (UNESCO, 2005). Also FPE disbursements were not always done on time and the procurement procedures have also been too cumbersome and time consuming. The delay in disbursement of funds by the Kenyan Government is still noticeable four to five years on (Kenya, 2008). There has also been lack of sustained and comprehensive communication strategy for FPE (Kenya, 2008).This suggests that a majority of the education stakeholders are left in limbo. Other challenges besieging the implementation of the programme include unavailability of sufficient physical facilities, school furniture, equipment and teachers among others (Rob et al., 2004; Kenya, 2008). In other words there were serious shortfalls in instructional materials, building funds and furniture (Riddell, 2003). The result is overcrowded classrooms and overburdened teachers, which are likely to negatively affect the quality of education being offered (Yieke, 2006). 

The other challenge undermining the policy include, pupils being in inappropriate classes. For instance, only a quarter of the pupils are actually in a grade that is suitable for their age and 44 percent were over-age for their grade by two or more years, with the result that the learning achievement was negatively affected (UNESCO, 2005). Therefore, while the government has been praised for the implementation of the FPE policy, to many it is a repeat of policy. Based on the experience of implementation of the previous FPE policy and the challenges besieging the current FPE policy, critics consider it to be a passing cloud (Sifuna, 2005).

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 74 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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