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How Systemic Factors Contribute to Failures of Poor Children in Schools

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How Systemic Factors Contribute to Failures of Poor Children in Schools

A recent report has exposed how systemic factors such as inadequate infrastructure, understaffing, and marginalization contribute to poor academic performance among learners, particularly affecting those from low-income backgrounds.

The findings highlight that students attending schools with essential facilities like libraries, electricity, smaller class sizes, more teachers, and a reliable supply of clean water tend to outperform their counterparts in schools lacking these amenities.

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The report also indicates that children from less privileged backgrounds often experience delayed entry into formal education, impacting their learning outcomes and future careers.

According to the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Assessment report by Usawa Agenda, nearly one-third of preschool-age children (four to 15 years old) are not attending school. Furthermore, 40 percent of learners in pre-primary school are overage, posing a significant challenge to achieving universal education.

Age-related issues persist in pre-primary two, and troublingly, continue into primary school grades, with five percent of Grade One learners and two percent of Grade Two learners being 12 years or older.

Usawa Agenda Executive Director Emmanuel Manyasa emphasized during the report’s release in Nairobi that systemic factors and “inherited illiteracy” contribute to low academic achievements.

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The report also underscores the impact of parental education on children’s performance, revealing that children raised by parents with little or no formal education tend to perform poorly compared to those with highly educated parents.

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Notably, the challenges identified in the report coincide with the ongoing transition of the first two cohorts of the competency-based curriculum (CBC) learners through junior school, raising concerns about the potential risks to the success of the CBC.

Data presented in the report reveals that distance to school is a significant factor leading to a three percent dropout rate in urban areas, which increases to five percent in rural areas. Parental opposition and undisclosed reasons also contribute to dropout rates.

Last year, 43 percent of boys and 47 percent of girls met expectations in their Grade Six assessment, but only 45 percent of learners achieved at least the expected level. Financial constraints, particularly the lack of fees, led to 40 percent of learners dropping out, despite the Free Primary Education program.

The report highlights disparities in facilities between private and public schools, with public schools reporting incidents of children learning in the open at a higher rate.

Additionally, only two in 10 schools nationally have libraries, with private schools having twice the number of libraries compared to public schools.

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Children aged four to 15 in arid and semi-arid counties face a significantly higher likelihood of being out of school compared to those in other regions, with the highest proportion of out-of-school children having never enrolled.

Teacher-to-pupil ratios vary across different school locations, with rural public primary schools facing understaffing compared to urban schools.

Overall, public schools nationwide face a teacher shortage, reflected in the national Permanent and Pensionable teacher-to-classroom ratio of 0.99. Dr. Manyasa emphasized the need for comprehensive and effective educational reforms to address these challenges.

How Systemic Factors Contribute to Failures of Poor Children in Schools

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