Educational Administration and Planning, UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI
May, 2004


Education has widely been acknowledged as a means for transforming and empowering communities. The youth especially gain skills, knowledge and attitudes to enable them become productive members of the society. In 1984 the Government of Kenya abolished the 7-4-2-3 system of education and A-levels and restructured education and training to the current 8-4-4 system. The rationale behind this was to make the education system more practically oriented and more responsive to the needs of the country. However, anticipated results did not materialize in spite of rationalizing the curriculum. The heavy emphasis on academic examinations promoted only the cognitive domain. It led to social injustice by categorizing schools and favouring only the intellectually gifted. The Bonn Resolution of October 2004 noted that Technical and vocational education is the Master Key for alleviation of poverty, promotion of peace, and conservation of the environment, in order to improve the quality of human life and promote sustainable development. Kenya can reorient itself towards sustainable development, using technical education as a vehicle for socio-economic and technological transformation. The skills development is important for economic growth, poverty alleviation, youth and womens empowerment and social inclusion. In the study What Room For Skills Development In Post-Primary Education?: A Look at Selected Countries, Palmer (2007) looks at ten selected countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, India, China and Vietnam) and examines what room there is for skills development in post primary education. Of the ten countries examined in Palmer (2007), Rwanda has the highest enrollment in technical subjects at the secondary level (35%), followed by Tanzania (13%) and South Africa (5.8%). The study notes that Sub- Saharan Africa (6.1%) and South and West Asia (1.2%) have little room for Technical education at the post-primary school level. Given the above, it is a matter of concern that Africa lags behind the rest of the world in technology and still it continues to pay little attention to technical education and technological research. This therefore poses the need for this current study as to the challenge of enrollment in technical subjects in secondary schools with specific reference to home science in Limuru Division, Kiambu District, Kenya). In line with the foregoing, the purpose of this study was to determine the causes for low student enrollment in Home Science (technical subject) in Secondary schools in Limuru Division, Kiambu District. Home Science, Art and Design, Agriculture, Woodwork, Metalwork, Building Construction, Power Mechanics, Electricity, Drawing and Design, and Aviation Technology; are technical subjects offered in secondary schools in Kenyan secondary schools. These subjects get advanced in Technical and Vocational Education (TIVET) colleges. Enrollment in these subjects has been low as compared to the other academic oriented subjects, the possible reason being due to the emphasis on academics and grades in the Kenyan system. In secondary schools, Home Science is an optional subject. When students join form one, most schools introduce them to the subject alongside the other technical subjects. Enrollment in home science in secondary schools is largely composed of girls. The Kenya National Examination Councils records show that in 1987, a total of 2,600 students had enrolled in different areas of home science, namely, foods and nutrition, clothing and textiles and home management. With the implementation of 8-4-4 system of education, enrollment in 1989 rose to 12,705 students. The increase in home science enrollment resulted partly due to the effort of the Ministry of Education in seeing that most of the schools have physical facilities for the practical subjects. The study objectives were: (1) To identify problems that students face that influence their choice of Home Science (2) To establish the extent to which availability of facilities influence enrollment of students in Home Science (3) Determine the influence of attitudes of Home Science teachers, students and school administrators on the enrollment of students in Home Science (4) Assess the influence of performance in Home Science in Kenya Certificate of Secondary examination (K.C.S.E) on enrollment (5) To determine the socio-economic factors that influence students choice of the subject. The researcher in this study adopted a descriptive survey design and used questionnaires and interview schedules to gather information. The sample size comprised 575 whereby half of the students (288) in this sample were taking home science while the other half (287) was not taking the subject. Simple random sampling was conducted to select the sample. The principals of the participating schools were purposely selected for interview. The researcher used both qualitative and quantitative method of data analysis and the findings were presented by use of bar charts, graphs and frequency tables. The study concluded that there was need to cultivate a positive image of technological and vocational education through specific tangible activities including: (i) raising income rates for technical and vocational careers in the world of work (ii) Enhancing the social status of workers in technical and vocational occupation through collective bargaining and appointment to positions of responsibility in the community(iii) Making provisions for technical and vocational education up to the University level thus creating a competitive career pattern (iv) Providing for continuing Education and training as a lifelong pursuit (v) Using role models like promotion of successful women into responsible position in their careers (vi) Curriculum should be reviewed with constant feedback and input from Industry and business. (vii) The negative attitude towards the subject seemed to influence choice of the subject alongside other factors like; previous examination results in the subject and career prospects. An upward trend in enrollment of all the technical and vocational subjects are important in our society since skills acquired will be able to complement academically oriented professions. The following recommendations were therefore made; (i) gender neutrality must be practiced in the choice of field of study so as to avoid gender segregation (ii) Teaching of subjects traditionally taken by girls in technical and vocational education should be enhanced by updating content and facilities and by bringing in a technological orientation such as computers and the use of other modern technology (iii) Entrepreneurial skills should be built into the course (iv) Postgraduate technical and funding assistance should be provided to encourage entrepreneurial ventures especially for girls.