Against All Odds : A Comparative Study Of Student Success In Four Schools In Rural Western Kenya
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In a Kenyan student’s life, poverty often brings with it malnutrition, disease, death of parents, and poor education. This study compared four primary schools in rural Kenya, one scoring an average of 492 out of 500 on the important Form 6 national examination. Administrators, teachers, parents, and the students who took the test were interviewed from the two highest- and the two lowest-achieving schools in the district. Participants were blinded to the outcome of interest. Predictor variables included school facilities and supplies, provision of a mid-day meal, student variables, and teacher variables. Findings showed that the school with the poorest facilities scored the highest. However, this school was the only one where students were provided with a mid-day meal. Highest test scores also were associated with the lowest class size and the highest attendance by both students and teachers. Successful students had teachers who spent at least twice as much time with their students one-on-one outside of the classroom. Other characteristics most common among the highest-achieving students were living with two adults, being happier, and being more future-oriented in their understanding of the purpose of school. These findings indicate a sustained commitment of the community to help these children succeed against all odds. A school with scrap- metal buildings and dirt floors led their students to overcome the many challenges they face by providing nourishment and highly invested teachers and instilling hope within a caring environment.