Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

African Studies Association 55th Annual Meeting

Conference Location

Philadelphia, PA

Source of Publication

African Studies Association 55th Annual Meeting

Peer Review



Primary school enrollment in Kenya has increased monumentally, since the introduction of free primary education in 2003. In addition to the fees waiver, students receive free text books, exercise books and a number of other supplies. Statistics by UNICEF and UNDP demonstrate the exponential upsurge of the enrollment which, from one dimension, may be an illustration of hope for children from economically disadvantaged segments of society. However, what is most striking is that students' performance in national, regional and local examinations in communities that benefited the most from free primary education continues to be far below average. This presentation discusses preliminary findings from a recent study that explored the reading habits, availability of reading materials and the reading environment for one of the Kenyan communities that witnessed increased enrollment post the 2003 free primary education policy, but has also endured bleak student academic performance in national examinations. In a nutshell the findings reveal that effective student learning and academic success requires a combination of factors above and beyond school fees, text books, exercise books, pens and pencils. The study, conducted in the fall of 2011, utilized a representative sample from 5 public primary schools. A multi-method approach was used.


reading, reading for pleasure, leisure reading, literacy, quality education


Library and Information Science