THE INFLUENCE OF ORPHANHOOD ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE, INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND DISCIPLINE: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ORPHANED AND NON-ORPHANED PUBLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL PUPILS IN MERU SOUTH DISTRICT, KENYA.

Beatrice M. Mburugu

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ABSTRACT

Orphanhood has been on the increase especially in this era of HIV/AIDS alongside other terminal diseases. Other causes of death of a parent (s) are old age, brutal murders, childbirth, natural calamities like landslides and other accidents. In Kenya, orphanhood has risen and affected many children among them primary school pupils. A parent’s death may traumatically affect a child’s psychological and social well being, consequently affecting their psychosocial status. As a result, this may have grave implications such as stunted emotional and intellectual development which may affect their concentration in class. They may become withdrawn and have low self-esteem which may affect their relations with others hence may become deviants. In schools, little is done on the way orphans perform in class, behave or interact with other people. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the influence of orphanhood on the academic performance, interpersonal relationships and discipline among public primary school pupils in Meru South district. The researcher used the ex post factos causal-comparative research design. The target population was all the 24,000 public primary school pupils in 172 Schools and the accessible population was all the orphaned and non-orphaned public primary school pupils in class six and seven in 10 public primary schools. The researcher purposively selected 55 orphaned pupils and randomly selected 55 non-orphaned pupils from 10 public primary schools and a 10% of the sample to take care of non-responsive cases. Besides the pupils’ sample, the researcher purposively sampled 10 deputy head teachers and 20 class teachers for the study, making a total of 140 respondents. Data was collected by use of questionnaires which were administered to deputy head teachers, class teachers and pupils in the sample. Data analysis was done by use of descriptive and inferential statistics. Consequently, frequencies, means, percentages, and t-test statistics were used. This was aided by the Statistical Package for Social Science (S.P.S.S) version 11.5 for windows. An analysis of the major findings indicates that orphans perform poorly academically in comparison to non-orphans. Orphans too had poorer interpersonal relationships and were more indisciplined than non-orphaned pupils. In addition, gender differences existed in academic performance, interpersonal relationships and discipline of pupils. The findings of this study are expected to assist the Ministry of Education and children’s department to establish programmes that may address the needs of orphans. Orphaned pupils may be helped to adjust better and have a sense of belonging. The school administrators, teachers, guardians and non-governmental organizations may use them to understand the orphans better.