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Title: Conceptualising educational quality in Kenyan secondary education : comparing local and national perspectives
Author: Milligan, Elizabeth Mary Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 407X
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2014
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Considerable research has highlighted the power of development agencies and the influence of international agendas in national policymaking across the Global South. In recent years, increasing critical attention has been paid to the promotion of the dominant economic and rights-based approaches to educational quality at the primary level, with some authors arguing for the reconceptualisation of educational quality in alternative and participatory ways. This study contributes to this literature by developing the relationship between pm1icipation and context and addresses gaps in the existing knowledge by shifting the focus to the secondary level where it is argued out-of-school factors are pat1icularly pet1inent. Kenya was one of the first African countries to extend free basic education to the secondary level with the introduction of the Free Secondary Education (FSE) policy in 2008. This is, to my knowledge, the first in-depth case study of its implementation and the associated challenges to educational quality. The study documents local conceptualisations of quality in Kenyan secondary education and compares and contrasts these with those identified in the national FSE policy documentation. The empirical research answers three research questions: (1) how is quality defined in the Kenyan FSE policy documents? (2) what does a quality secondary education look like for a range of local stakeholders? (3) what are the main challenges facing secondary education in practice in two case study schools? Guided by a postcolonial methodological framing, the research is conducted using a two-level case study design. At the national level, thematic discourse analysis is employed to interrogate dimensions of quality in the policy documents, and at the local level, in one rural community in the Kisii region, a range of qualitative and pm1icipative methods are used to gather data on the perspectives, experiences and attitudes of teachers, students, governors and parents. At the national level, thematic discourse analysis reveals the strong presence of global discourses underpinned by Eurocentric values with little contextualisation for Kenya. Key findings from the local level include that major challenges facing secondary education in practice are imposed from above through policy and curricular decisions. The student-generated data shows that many also face significant out-of-school challenges related to poverty, an unconducive home environment, sex and alcohol. These act as barriers to their achievement of a quality education. A perceived quality education is shown to be one that addresses such curricular and out-of-school challenges, promotes a quality school where good governance and discipline are pm1icularly highlighted, and has wide-ranging outcomes.
Supervisor: Crossley, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available