ADULT LEARNERS PERSPECTIVES ON GOING BACK TO SCHOOL
Introduction:
In spite of the limited chances for re-entry of high school dropouts into the education system in Kenya learnerscan by and large access educational resources through Adult Continuing Education ACE.According to the Kenyan Ministry of Education this is the entire body of learning process within the perspective of lifelong learning whereby adults and out of school youth are given opportunities to develop their abilities enrich their knowledge and improve their skills to meet both their own needs and those of the iCorrespondence: email lomboslombogmail.comrnLombo S. LomboTHE FUTURE OF KENYAN HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS: ADULT LEARNERS PERSPECTIVES ON GOING BACK TO SCHOOLEuropean Journal of Education Studies -Volume 6 Issue 8 2019267society Kenya Ministry of Education 2010. Nonetheless these school dropouts have no clear path for going back to schoolas the adult education program in Kenya does not have an equivalent of the General Education Development GEDprogram as is in the United States. This paper is drawn upon a narration from the authors engagement as a teacher with the Kenyan population thatresulted to a realization that school dropouts could not find jobsand therefore needed access to educational institutionsthat would then open up for their path for job opportunities. The deficiency was attributed to the lack of accessibilityto tertiary institutions where individuals can develop vocational skills. In addition most tertiary institutions in Kenya require a high school diploma for admissionwhich the high school dropouts do not possess. Most of the Kenyan high school dropouts rarely go back to school hence they are subjected to joblessness and poverty for life.Despite the efforts by the public universities to embrace continuing education through parallel programs Wangenge-Ouma 2012Kenyan high school dropouts still do not qualify foradmission to higher education. This isbecause the Kenyan education systemdoes not have school re-entry programs for high school dropouts. Unlike the USA where community colleges give school dropouts a second chance and where students can take the GED exam and re-enter the educational mainstreamKenyan colleges and universities do not have provisions for people who have not completed high school. Since students must have a high school diploma to gain admission to a collegeKenyan high school dropouts have a slim chance of attaining the admission requirements for tertiary and higher learning institutions. Community education and extension programs are however not within the scope of this studydespite having been used to educate people on health issues such as HIV/AIDS and other health care matters. According to the Kenya Ministry of Education extension programs have also been used in agriculture when educating communities on good farming methods and food security Kenya Ministry of Education 2010.This paper nevertheless focuses on the perceptions of the learners on returning to school to gain academic knowledge as a tool tobetter their future.
Objectives:
The study is therefore aimed at examining the future of this category of learners.
Methodology:
Qualitativecase studydesign was used to address the objective of the study. The study was carried out at Baraka Adult Learning Center BALC in Kenya.Data was collected from students in classroomthrough interviews from current studentsandformer students.Teachers and the Principal also formed the target population.According to rnLombo S. LomboTHE FUTURE OF KENYAN HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS: ADULT LEARNERS PERSPECTIVES ON GOING BACK TO SCHOOLEuropean Journal of Education Studies -Volume 6 Issue 8 2019271Merriam 2009 qualitative design gives the understanding of how people view and interpret their world.On the other handthe use of a case studyas posited by Glesne 2011 enables individual lessons from a single case by focusing on the complexity within the case its uniqueness and also its linkages to the social context of which it is a part. Through this contextthe author exploredthe opinions of each participant in connection to their experience as learners at BALC located in an urban setting in central Kenya. At the time of the study the center hadboth primary and secondary school students with a population of 508 students. The secondary section had a population of 341 students with ages ranging from 18 to 55 years.The study sample therefore comprised nine current students three former students five teachers and the Principal. Since the center had more women than men five women and four menin the age range of19 and 45 yearswere considered for the study. Three of the women selected were married and two were single. One woman had her own business while the rest of the women had no jobs. The age range for the men was between 23 and 40 yearswhere two men were married and two were single. Data collection was done through interviews and observations of classes in progressas well as throughreview of school documents.In qualitative research data analysis involves a simultaneous analyzing process whereby the collected data can also be analyzed Creswell 2012. The collected data was compiled usinga word processing programand sorted by formulatingcodes to categorizethe data. The codes were CTS1to CTS9 for current studentsand FTS1 to FTS3 for former students. Based on the emerging themes in the data the author draws a conclusion ofthe study with analytic generalization by providing a substantive proposition thatadult learners in Kenya return to school to better their future economic earnings
Findings:
Adult education in Kenya has some negative connotations. Whenever the phrase adult educationis mentioned people think of the Kiswahili word gumbaruwhich means illiterate. The root of the word comes from adult literacy program which has been running since 1970s. This program was designed for adults who did not know how to read and write learn reading and numeracy skills. The two terms adult educationand adult literacyare different but many people in Kenya equate them as synonymous. Adult education is defined as the whole body of organized processes regardless of the content level and method whether formal or informal whether prolonged or replace learning in schools colleges or universities whereby persons regarded as adults by the societies in which they belong develop their skills enrich their knowledge and improve their technical or vocational qualifications Nesbit Welton 2014 p.1.Adults returning to school must brave the stigma of being termed as gumbaruilliterate. During the interviews with the students it was discoveredthat some of them would not like their peers to know that they are back in school. One studentpointed outthathe avoids his workmates and sneaks into the school compound without being seen. rnLombo S. LomboTHE FUTURE OF KENYAN HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS: ADULT LEARNERS PERSPECTIVES ON GOING BACK TO SCHOOLEuropean Journal of Education Studies -Volume 6 Issue 8 2019272I was informed of a drama which ensued some time ago when some journalists from a local newspaper came to the school expecting to interview students and teachers and write a story about the center. Most of the students ran away from the school compound because they did not wantto give any interview nor have their pictures taken. My visit to the school was therefore treated with a lot of suspicion. Both the students and the teachers wanted to know how I was going to treat the data beingcollected for which I assured them that thedata collection was for the sole purpose of academic research and that I was not connected with any media organization so their stories would not be published in the local newspapers. I also assured them of anonymity. The students in this learning center came from different backgrounds. According to instructor T2 who has been in the center since its inception in 1979 observed that students basically come from all the regions of Kenya. There was no set criterionfor determining which class one went other than individual students telling the instructors the last class they attended before dropping out of school and either joining that class or the class ahead.Students for both primary and secondary came from different religious backgrounds such as Christians and Muslims and their ages were between 18 and 55 years. The number of women students was double the number of male students. Instructor T2 said that some of the students register for exams and they are not seen again until the exam days while other registered as students butwere not able to continue due to either work or family responsibilities. Not all the students in the center were dropouts. Instructor T2 said that since the secondary school section had beenintroduced 8 years before the time of this study many students who failed their exam from regular secondary schools went to repeat their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education KCSE. The participants in the study were school dropouts who were current students in the center or former students who had gone through the high school program at the center. In the course of the data collection process students talked about the reasons they dropped out of school their reasons for returning to school and their academic aspirations.The students gave various reasons as to why they dropped out of school. One male student gave his reason for dropping out of school as follows:I am an orphan. My parents died when I was 8 years old so I was brought up by my grandmother who could not afford to take me to Secondary School. I left school at Form 3 to look for a jobCST6. The students said that the average school fees per term in a day secondary school not boarding was Ksh.3500 which was USD 40 and may be after adding school uniform and books could amount to a total of Ksh.10000 USD120 per term. The average pay for a non-skilled worker is about Ksh.7000 USD 80 per month which was not enough to provide food and housing for the family and send children to school. rnLombo S. LomboTHE FUTURE OF KENYAN HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS: ADULT LEARNERS PERSPECTIVES ON GOING BACK TO SCHOOLEuropean Journal of Education Studies -Volume 6 Issue 8 2019273Besides poverty therewere other reasons which made some participants dropout of school.A female student gave pregnancy as the reason for dropping out of school. She explained: I dropped out of school at second term in Form 3. The reason for dropping out ofschool wasthat I unintentionallygot pregnant. I would have loved to give birth and then return to school but my dad kicked me out of our home. I went to live with my grandmother till I gave birth.CST8A male student CST3 left school after he impregnated a girl when he was at the 7thgrade. He said the police wanted to arrest him so he had to escape from the village and consequently dropped out of school. He later learned the police could not have arrested him but because he was young and naive he believed that he was going to be arrested. Culturally when a boy makes a girl pregnant it is expected that the boy marries the girl. Sometimes the parents of the girl could put pressure to force the boy to marry the pregnant girl however the Kenyan laws are not strong on child support so many girls take the responsibility of bringing up their children without any financial support from the fathers of the children. Other reasons for dropping out of school were: making poor grades getting into discipline problems at school getting sick and being hospitalized for a long time and lack of interest with school.4.1 Return to School for Better Economic FutureMost of the participants were either not employed or had jobs that were not paying them enough money to support themselves or their families. The participants believed that a good education could help them get better jobs and consequently better their economic earnings in future. All the current students and the former students had reasons why they decided to returnto school. Most of the students mentioned getting a better job as the main reason for returning to school. One student said he was not fitting in the company of his peers because of lack of education. One female student who was a successful businesswomantalked of how she embarrassed her university-trainedhusband whenever she interacted with their family friends because she wasnot able to speak English. The reason for her returning to school therefore was to be able to learn both written and spoken English so as to fit in her husbands social life and to learn math so as to balance her books in her business. Other students who were involved in small businesses also cited book-keeping and financial management as the reasons which made them return to school. A male student returned to school because he wanted to be a better parent. He said that there is a difference in parenting between an educated parent and an uneducated parent. The student was of the opinion that education would make him a better parent.Some of the students left their rural homes and went to the city for the sole purpose of going to school. A female student CST1 left her children and her husband upcountry rural area 250 miles away to come to this particular school. She said there were no such schools in her areaand she agreed with her husband that her going back rnLombo S. LomboTHE FUTURE OF KENYAN HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS: ADULT LEARNERS PERSPECTIVES ON GOING BACK TO SCHOOLEuropean Journal of Education Studies -Volume 6 Issue 8 2019274to school was important for the family. She further explained how she had to leave her husband with the children miles away for some time so as to fulfill her educational dream. She talked of howbefore she joined the centershe was doing jobs which were low paying and not satisfying. She said those jobs would subject her to a life of poverty and that she and her husband would not be able to send their children to good schools. She returned to school to get the qualification which would enable her to go to college and eventually get a better job in the future. A 35-year-oldmaleFST1who was a former student went back to school 20 years after graduating from primary school. His motivation to return to school was for him to be able to gain academic credentials to enable him to train for a profession and get a job to provide for his family.The participants expressed their views on why school dropouts should return to school. They made comments such as Education is everything and without education today one is nobody CST 9. Similar views were expressed by another student who said It is important to return to school because out there one cannot get a job without education CST1. A participant asserted Education is the key to good life so if school dropouts want good life they should return to school and work very hard so as to succeed and get good academic qualification.CST 3The former students who participated in the interview explained how their lives had changed after returning to school. One student FST2 who enumerated his benefits saidlearning English was very useful to him. He underscored that his English grammar was very bad and poor knowledge of English made him find it difficult to understand school textbooks which are written in English and that led to poor grades. After joining the center he became confident in expressing himself in English. The student further said learning mathematics was useful to him because he was able to manage his business. The participant said the greatest achievement was that he passed his KCSE exam and gained admission in a college. Participant FST1 said his life changed in many ways hislevel of understanding changed he had learned how to motivate himself to work hard in school and that he was able to chart his future after gaining the required qualification to go to college.4.2Students Aspirations for Achieving High School Diploma School dropouts returned to school with some goals in mind. Both the current students and the former students had very clear goals they would like to achieve as far as their education was concerned. All the student participants came back to school expecting to complete their high school take their KCSE exam and graduate with a high school diploma. Some of the students joined the center at the primary school level then moved on to secondary school section after taking the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education KCPEexam. The former students achieved this goal and were moving ahead with their academic aspirations. The students explained they were aware that for one to qualify for university education the minimum KCSE grade should be C. Those who rnLombo S. LomboTHE FUTURE OF KENYAN HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS: ADULT LEARNERS PERSPECTIVES ON GOING BACK TO SCHOOLEuropean Journal of Education Studies -Volume 6 Issue 8 2019275get below C qualify for middle level colleges such as nursing colleges primary teacher training colleges and polytechnics.The current students had their minds made up about what they would like to study. Some of the students were already operating their own businesses so such students wanted to study business management or marketing. Other participants wanted to be professionals. One student expressed the desire to become a chemical engineer. The student said the reason for his desire to be an engineer was because of his love for chemistry and therefore engineering was a good profession for him. A lady who used to work with women groups in rural areas expressed the desire to study community development. She was concerned that there was a lot of poverty in her area and would therefore work with her local communities to alleviate poverty. Another lady participant wanted to be a nurse like her own motherwhile one male participant expressed the desire of being a professor. The participant expected to graduate withhis high school diploma then study for his undergraduate degree and finally proceed to graduate school to obtain a doctorate degree.However when asked which discipline he would like to study the learner did not have an answer. A female participant expressed the desire of being a teacher of young children. She would influence children positively help them learn and become responsible members of the society. Another male student said he would like to be a psychologist and was prepared to study up to doctorate level.The three former students were also very clear on the direction they were going as far as their educational goals were concerned. One participant FST1 after completing high school at the center enrolled for a certificate in procurement andcompleted the course successfully after one and a half years. At the time of the interview the former student was taking a diploma Associate Degree course in procurement. The third participant FST3 got a B-in his KCSE exam. The participant had qualified for University admission. With this qualification he was able to choose from many areas of study offered in the Kenyan colleges and Universities. The participant was planning to apply to Kenya Medical Training College KMTC where he would study pharmacy. Lastly the second participant FST2 had graduated from the center six years ago. Since graduation from high school he had made huge academic progress. After graduating from the centerthe participant registered for a BA course in theology which he completed he attended a graduate school where he pursued a mastersdegree and completed it. He wanted to pursue a Doctoral Degree in Theology and Leadership.Although the reasons forthe participants droppingout of school may have been varied their perspective of returning to school could be summed up as: to make a difference in their economic and social lives. According to thestudy findings most students dropped out of school due to economic reasons. They could not afford to pay school fees and therefore had to dropout. Asked why they returned to schoolthe students cited economic reasons as the main motivation for returning to school. And lastly most students had high academic aspirations. They all looked forward to completing their high school education which culminated by taking an exit exam in Form 4 Twelfth grade andgaining access to higher education or employment. rnLombo S. LomboTHE FUTURE OF KENYAN HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS: ADULT LEARNERS PERSPECTIVES ON GOING BACK TO SCHOOLEuropean Journal of Education Studies -Volume 6 Issue 8 20192764.3 Preparation for Exit Exam KSCEStudents at the center take an exit examination at the end of their senior year Form 4. The examination known as Kenya secondary certificate of education KSCE is the same examination taken by regular high school students in Kenya. The high school program was designed to take four years. However adult learners at the center did not have adequate time for study because they took two or three years to complete high school. Classes were also combined i.e. Form One students being combined with Form Two students. Taking two years to complete the high school program instead of four years andcombining classes that form ones and form twos shared the same classroom were some the biggest challenges of adapting high school curriculum for the adult learners. The principal noted that although the students faced a lot of odds as they prepared for their final exam some of them performed exemplarily well and managed to go to college. There were factors which influenced the success of the students who had performed well. Despite the odds the students at the center go through some of them have excelled in their academic pursuit. Some students have passed the KCSE and proceeded to colleges for higher education and vocational training. Explaining what influenced the success of some of their students the principal underscored that some return to school so as to get the qualification for higher education admission while others want promotions at their employment or just desire social acceptance. He further said the following: What has influenced their success is the fact that some of them come here with reasons. It is these reasons that influence them to work hard and pass. Many a times the reason is to get promoted in their places of work. For those who are not working they want to become relevant in the society they have realized that education and knowledge is importantand they feel odd out there uneducated. They therefore strive very hard to make it and they finally make it.Principal June 4 2014Some of the students interviewed did not fit the dropout description because after taking their high school exam from regular secondary schools they decide to join the center so as to repeat the exam. An observation of the school records revealed that there were 230 students who had registered with the center to take KCSE in 2014. According to the principal some of the students were repeaters from regular Kenyan secondary schools. Onecurrent student saidthe following:I did my Form 4 and got a D. I knew I couldnt go straight to University after consultation with my dad and mom I applied for a college in Nairobi at Kenya Institute of Professional Studies for a Diploma in cabin crew. I tried to use the Diploma Certificate to join a Universitybut I couldnt manage. My mother advised me to go back to school. And since I knew it was the only way to get me to the University I decided to come back to this center.CST5 May 30 2014rnLombo S. LomboTHE FUTURE OF KENYAN HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS: ADULT LEARNERS PERSPECTIVES ON GOING BACK TO SCHOOLEuropean Journal of Education Studies -Volume 6 Issue 8 2019277The students help each other as they prepare for the exams. One student was happy with the help he was getting from his peers. He reiterated that he got help from his fellow students and although he used to have problems with English and Mathematics he wasdoing far much better than he did in his former school and was confident that he was going to perform well in his final exam which took place in October 2014 CT5 May 30 2014. The students preparation for KCSE exam was inhibited by lack of learning materials and inadequate facilities. The center did not have a science lab of its ownso they relied on other schools. Students from the center visit other schools where they could make use of the lab facilities for their science subjects.The former students who were interviewed were happy with the way the center prepared them for the exit exam. One former student talked of how he managed to get good results which enabled him to go to college where he graduated with a bachelors degree and later went aheadand got a masters degree FST1 May 29 2014. Another student noted that he managed to get a B-grade which gave him access to college where he is currently studying pharmacy FST2 May 29 2014. Lastly the third former student praised the center for preparing him for KCSE exam. Since he left schoolhe has attended two colleges. He was pursuing a three-yeardiploma in procurement FST3 May 29 2014
Results:
Conclusion:
The adult learners perspectives on going back to school are conflicting. On one hand there exists a notion in Kenya that adult education is for illiterate people gumbaru and therefore adults returning to school have to deal with the stigma of being viewed by the society as illiterate. On the other hand adult learners saw their returning to school as getting a second chance to complete their high school diploma. The former students who participated confirmed that it is possible to return to school and graduate from high school. Both the current students and the former students confirmed that they returned to school so as to improve their future earnings or due to economic reasons. Others wanted to be more competent in running their businesses. One participanthowever went to school so as to be a better parent. The aspirations of most students wereto complete high school and proceed for higher education or train for various professions. The former students who participated in the study were pursuing further studies in colleges and universities.
Publication Information
Author(s):
Focus County(s):
Programme Area(s):
Natural Products Research & Drug Development (NAPREDA)
Research Priority Area(s):
Disease Domain(s):
Diseases of the blood
Document History:
Publication Date: 01.Jan.2019
Conference Title:
Venue: