The principals' strategies in addressing the causes of dropout in public secondary schools; a case of Kuresoi district, Kenya.
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Dropout poses a serious threat to gains in education despite the government's emphasis on Education for all by the year 2015. Dropout is central to improving access to basic education. The secondary school principal is responsible for ensuring that students are retained in school until they complete their studies. This study investigated the intervention strategies used by the principals in curbing students' drop out in public secondary schools in Kuresoi district. The study's objectives were to establish: the main causes of dropout among secondary school students; the various intervention strategies used by the principals in addressing issues of indiscipline; interventions against teenage pregnancies and financial constraints and principals' intervention strategies in addressing issues of school environment and resource inadequacy. Descriptive survey research design was adopted where through a combination of sampling techniques, the study's sample was determined. The study utilized 341 respondents from a targeted population disaggregated into 3 00 students, 29 teacher counselors and 12 principals from the 15 out of 41 public secondary schools. Data collection instruments included mainly the questionnaires with both open and closed ended items for students and teachers and the interview schedule for the principals. The data collected was processed, organized and analyzed with the aid of the computer program, Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Quantitative data was analyzed using simple descriptive statistics and the results presented in percentages and frequency distribution tables and pie charts while qualitative data was transcribed and organized as per the objectives of the study. The study established the main causes of students' dropout as fees problem; indiscipline; pregnancy; family problems and truancy. The school principals involved parents and students in handling both academic performance related matters and curbing drop out which signaled consultative leadership on the part of the principal. It was established that school principals were actively involved in offering guidance and counseling sessions to students with cases of pregnancies. Pregnant students were allowed to stay at home until delivery and then allowed back to school to continue with their studies. Indiscipline cases were mostly handled through suspensions, guidance and counseling, manual punishment, expulsion and corporal punishment. The study also established that the principals assisted students with school fees problems as supported by giving parents time to look for school fees while the students continue attending class, sourcing for bursaries and scholarships, organizing fund raising for most needy and in some instances organizing work-study programs for such students within the school. The principals strived to provide conducive learning environment thus attracting and sustaining learners in school.