TEACHERS’ PERCEPTIONS ON THE INFLUENCE OF SELECTED FACTORS ON PROVISION OF PRE-SCHOOL EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN KOIBATEK SUB-COUNTY, KENYA

ABSTRACT
Early childhood is a stage of human development between birth and eight years of age. Statistics in Koibatek Sub-County Directors’ Office reveal that less than 30% of school going children accessed pre-school education in the past seven years in the Sub-County. This study examined parental income, parental perceptions and school learning environment influencing provision of pre-school education as perceived by teachers in Koibatek Sub-County. The research was guided by the following objectives:- To establish adequacy of teaching and learning resources, to establish the teachers’ perceptions of influence of parental income, to establish the teachers’ perceptions of influence of parental perception and to determine the teachers’ perception of influence of school learning environment on provision of pre-school education in Koibatek Sub- County. The study was limited to responses obtained from the questionnaires. This study was guided by Systems Theory developed by biologist Ludwig Von Bertalanffy. Descriptive survey design was used. The population of the study constituted the headteachers and pre-school teachers. Stratified proportionate sampling was used to select public pre-schools from all the four divisions. The researcher selected 70 Pre- school teachers using simple random sampling while 35 headteachers were purposively selected. Data was collected using one questionnaire which was responded to by both the headteachers and pre-school teachers. Content, construct and face validity of the instruments were checked by research experts drawn from Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Management Department of Egerton University. Piloting of the instruments was carried out in eight public pre-schools in Koibatek Sub-County who did not participate in the actual study. Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was used in estimating reliability. Reliability coefficient of 0.77 was obtained and this was considered acceptable for this study. The data collected were organized, edited and analysed using descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percentages. It was calculated with the help of the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) Version 20. Major findings were that teaching and learning resources were inadequate, parental income and parental perception on provision of pre-school education. However, school learning environment did not have an influence on the provision of pre-school education in Koibatek. From the findings of this study it is recommended that the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MOEST), NGOs, County Governments, school administration and teachers should strive to sensitize and empower parents and other stakeholders on their roles in provision of pre-school education.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
Education plays a key role in human development through the acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes for the enhancement of a community’s economic, social and cultural development. It is widely seen as one of the most promising paths for individuals to realize better, more productive lives (Republic of Kenya [ROK], 2006a). The Kenyan Constitution provides that every child has a right to free and compulsory basic education. This entails quality services and access to educational institutions and facilities for all children. Similarly, the Kenya Vision 2030 also recognizes that education and training of all Kenyans is fundamental to the success of the vision (ROK, 2013). The citizens and the government of Kenya have invested heavily in improving both the access and quality of education, in an effort to realize the promise of education as well as to achieve the education-related Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] and Vision 2030 (Glennerster, Kremer, Mbiti, & Kudzai, 2011).

According to Ministry of Education ([MOE] 2011), Early Childhood Development and Education [ECDE] is the first level of the Kenyan education system. Early Childhood is a stage of human development between birth and eight years of age. This is the most important stage during which neurobiological, physical, physiological and psychological changes take place that mediate the future cognitive, emotional, social and behaviour trends of an individual (Young, 2007). It is considered an important stage in the Kenyan education system, especially in laying the foundation for the child’s socialization and lifelong education. Children in ECD express their feelings through songs, movements, and construction; any pre-school teacher who ignores play is unlikely to produce an all round adult from children under his/her care (Tassoni, Beith, Eldrige & Gough, 2003).

The Ministry of Education Science and Technology [MOEST] in Kenya is mandated to manage provision of education to all Kenyan children. This mandate is being executed through the pursuit of its vision and anchoring the same on the national development. Provision of education at all levels is an important component of developing human skills that may support implementation of vision 2030 in Kenya (MOE, 2007a).

According to the Session Paper No 1 of 2005, the provision of ECDE involves households’ community and government efforts in an integrated approach of children from conception (ROK, 2005). Early childhood education in Kenya has developed over the years. It has been as a result of several seminars, task forces, workshops, commissions, declarations and also private endeavors. This education for the young varied from time to time in terms of quality, service providers and principles governing its provision. The Kenyan government together with its development partners such as the Bernard Van Leer Foundation supported the development of the National Centre for Early Childhood Education [NACECE] in 1982 at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (Karanja & Githinji, 2009).

The centre implements and disseminates the objectives of Early Childhood Development and Education countrywide (MOE, 2005). In Kenya, a framework of partnership exits where parents, local communities, Non-Governmental Organizations [NGOs], Government Ministries as well as United Nations International Children Education Fund [UNICEF] play a key role in provision of pre-school services (MOE, 2005). The Ministry of Culture and Social Services was responsible for training teachers and paying their salaries from 1970-1980 (Karanja & Githinji, 2009). The individual institutions were mandated to prepare their own curriculum that aimed at all areas of development social, emotional and cognitive but more emphasis on the academic preparation for primary school (ROK, 2008b).

According to NACECE, (2007) the government encouraged the formation of partnerships as a way to coordinate resources and share costs of early childhood care and education. The Ministry of Education became involved in overall administration, policy making, provision of community support grants, training and professional guidance of pre-school teachers from 1985. Most of the pre-schools failed to understand, that for optimal development of a child, there is a need to create a planned curriculum, encompassing developmentally appropriate knowledge and skills, with flexibility for contextualization (MOE, 2011).

Parents have the major role to meet the needs of children, provide land, raise funds for the construction and maintenance of the physical facilities, labour and also pay the teachers’ salaries. In some of the pre-schools, the parents and local communities have initiated Community-Based Feeding Programmes and Community Based Growth Monitoring and Promotion [CBGMP] activities. They also contribute ingredients, cooking, eating utensils and hire cooks or take turns to prepare the food for their children (MOEST, 2000).

The pre-schools in Kenya are categorized as private, community or public institutions (Ramani, 2003).The private pre-schools are those that are owned and managed by individuals, private organizations, religious organizations, non-governmental organizations and the community or public institutions are those pre-schools owned and managed by the parents, communities or various local authorities (Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development [KICD], 2002a). MOEST, (2002) indicates that every public pre-schools within the primary schools should be managed fully by the Parents Associations, be attached to a primary school and be administered by the primary school headteacher (ROK, 2005). However, in the current administrative structure as the government pre-schools are under the County Government (ROK, 2013).All public pre- schools all over Kenya are expected to follow the current pre-school curriculum developed by KICD. The aim is to ensure that young children gain basic knowledge, skills, attitudes and basic life skills (KICD, 2009).

An analysis of the school mapping, data collected in Kenya in 2007 (MOE, 2011) shows that access, participation and quality education at pre-school level in Kenya are low hence the need for increased investments in infrastructure development (both learning and sanitation facilities) human resource, sensitization and advocacy to all the partners. This is exemplified by the fact that 57.9% of the school-age going children were not in school in 2007. That only 42.1% of eligible children are enrolled in pre-school Centers nationally with the higher figures registered in urban centers while some rural and remote sub counties recording less than 20 percent enrolment (MOE, 2009a).

Republic of Kenya (2012) further reported that access and participation at the pre-school level are still low with a National Enrolment Rate [NER] of 42% in 2009 and 50% in 2010. This means that 58% and 50% of the school-age going pupils were not in school in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Furthermore, only 60% of the counties had a NER above the national figure of 42% with the lowest values observed in Northern Eastern. Low access levels can be explained by the fact that pre-school education was not mainstreamed in the education system in Kenya, in spite of it being critical in laying the foundation for performance in the subsequent levels of education (Karanja & Githinji, 2009).

Kipkoech and Kyalo (2010) observe that a major decline in enrolment occurred before the Free Primary Education [FPE] policy was implemented, suggesting that FPE may not be the only reason for this decline. Access to pre-schools is inequitable, with poor children from semi-arid, arid and urban slum areas less likely to enroll in them. A relatively large gap between gross and net enrolment ratios implies the presence of over- age and under-age children in ECDE Centres. The presence of over-age children explains, the heavy focus on pre-school education while under-age children points to the difficulty of delivering quality ECDE services (ROK, 2006a).

National Centre for Early Childhood Education (2007) asserts that at the Sub-County level, the District Centre for Early Childhood and Education [DICECE] trains pre-school teachers and other education officers. They provide supervision and inspection of pre- school programmes at sub-county level. They also mobilize local communities to improve care, health, nutrition and education of young children. They develop localized curriculum, evaluate and conduct research related to pre-school children. The government of Kenya continuously train pre-school teachers at different levels from short courses, certificate and diploma in ECDE. Training teachers and equipping them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that would enable them to provide quality services to pre-school children and also to mobilize parents and local communities to improve the welfare of the children and families (MOE, 2005).

Over 70% of pre-school institutions in Koibatek Sub-County were managed by local communities and in the new dispensation it is managed by the county governments.

Under the Kenyan constitution (2010) article 56 section (b), pre-school education is a responsibility of the county government (ROK, 2013). The communities together with the county governments are responsible for the provision of land, putting up buildings and provision of furniture, employment and upkeep of teachers, management of the schools and sponsorship of teachers for training. The day-to-day management of the community sponsored pre-schools is carried out by the centre management committees appointed from among the parents and local leaders (ROK, 2010).

Koibatek Sub-County education office report of 2014 indicates that most public pre- schools in the Sub-County have trained teachers, receive community support grants, community capacity building and mobilization is done in all of the four divisions. Nevertheless provision of pre-school education is facing a number of challenges which could be as a result of influence of factors in Koibatek Sub-County and Kenya as a whole, these factors include: - provision of learning facilities, parental level of income, parental perceptions and school learning environment, political factors, child based factors, teacher based factors and environmental factors. The selected factors are discussed below.

Parental income affects provision of pre-schools in a special way because parents provide needs such as food, clothing and pay school fees. Children living in lower- income households often face behavioural and learning challenges when they enter school. Parental perceptions may influence provision of pre-school education because traditional beliefs in most local communities is that educating girls is a waste of time and money as they will eventually get married and that education benefits the families they are married to. Girls therefore spend a lot of time on domestic tasks than boys; some cultural practices have hindered promotion of gender equality and empowerment of girl child in most communities. School learning environment factors includes provision of safe structures/physical facilities, suitable space for play, friendly atmosphere, appropriate and an inspiring environment, safe and secure school, clean water and adequate sanitation facilities expanded range of experience for young children, helping them develop skills and form attitudes that will enable them to make good use of learning opportunities both within and beyond formal education.

Teaching/learning resources are an important precondition for student learning, provided that other conditions are present that support a strong academic program in a school. Lack of furniture, lack of textbooks or crowded classroom conditions not only make it difficult for learners to concentrate on their lessons, but inevitably limit the amount of time teachers can spend on innovative teaching methods such as cooperative learning and group work.

Statement of the Problem
The Government of Kenya supports pre-schools on the realization that children who access holistic early childhood education services have a better start in learning in life. Despite all the benefits that may accrue from pre-school level as a result of the commitments made by the Government of Kenya to achieve Education for All [EFA], there is low enrolment at pre-school level of education, low attendance rate, high teachers’ turnover and low transition rates from pre-school to standard one. However provision of pre-school education is the responsibility of the county government. In Koibatek sub-county it is observed that provision of pre-school education is facing a number of challenges such as income levels of parents, school learning environment and parents’ perception on pre-school education. From the literature review, there was limited evidence on the influence of these factors on provision of pre-school education in the sub-county. This study has therefore examined teacher perceptions on the influence of these factors namely; parental level of income, parental perceptions and school learning environment on provision of pre-school education in Koibatek sub-county.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to examine teachers’ perceptions on the influence of selected factors such as parental income, parental perceptions on pre-school education and school learning environment on provision of pre-school education in Koibatek Sub- County.

Research Objectives
This study was guided by the following objectives:

(i) To establish adequacy of teaching and learning resources on provision of pre- school education as perceived by the teachers in Koibatek Sub-County.

(ii) To establish the teachers’ perceptions of influence of parental income on provision of pre-school education in Koibatek Sub-County.

(iii) To establish the teachers’ perceptions of influence of parental perception on provision of pre-school education in Koibatek Sub-County.

(iv) To determine the teachers’ perceptions on the influence of school learning environment on provision of pre-school education in Koibatek Sub-County.

Research Questions
The study was guided by the following research questions:

(i) What is the teachers’ perception on the adequacy of teaching and learning resources for provision of pre-school education in Koibatek Sub-County?

(ii) What is the teachers’ perception of the influence of parental income on provision of pre-school education in Koibatek Sub-County?

(iii) What is the teachers’ perception of the influence of parental perception on provision of pre-school education in Koibatek Sub-County?

(iv) What is the teachers’ perception on the influence of school learning environment on provision of pre-school education in Koibatek Sub-County?

Significance of the Study
The findings of this study may have practical implications for the future of early childhood education in the country. The study may contribute to the advancement of knowledge about the teachers’ perceptions on the influence of selected factors on provision of pre-school education. The findings of this study may provide teachers, Quality Assurance and Standards Officers (QASOs), Sub-County Centre for Early Childhood Education (DICECE) trainers and educational administrators with information on ways of improving educational standards in Koibatek Sub-County through better supervisory practices and provision of quality education. The findings of the study may also help in identifying the needs, strengths and weaknesses of provision of pre-school education. The study may be of immediate benefit to both the Ministry of Education science and technology and the County Government of Baringo in the formulation of future early childhood education policies aimed at enhancing provision of pre-school education. The findings of this study may also promote the general learning conditions and performance in pre-schools.

Scope of the Study
The study was conducted in public pre-schools in Koibatek Sub-County, Baringo County. The study mainly focused on teachers’ perception of the influence of selected factors on provision of pre-school education in Koibatek Sub-County; these are; parental income, parental perceptions on pre-school education and school learning environment.

Limitations of the Study
The study was limited to responses that were obtained from the questionnaires. Since the study sought information on teacher’s perceptions, it was possible that teachers could not be willing to divulge information on their weaknesses. To overcome this, the researcher, thus, used the information obtained from the three teachers (headteacher and two pre-school teachers) in every sample school to corroborate the responses. This limitation was also overcome by the researcher by ensuring that the questionnaires were structured to generate the required data as accurately as possible. The study was also limited to the sample schools, pre-school teachers and the headteachers in the Sub- County. The study did not consider any information that was outside the scope of the study. The study ensured the sampling process was randomized in order to capture the views and opinions from different people in the target population.

Assumption of the Study
i. Teachers were aware and familiar with ECDE policy.

ii. Teachers had a close interaction with the parents.

iii. Parents were aware of their roles in provision of pre-school education.

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