Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Elizabeth A. Dooley.


This study examined how teachers perceive Free Primary Education had influenced access, retention and progression of marginalized students in primary schools in Kisii County, Kenya. A critical pedagogy framework was used to unpack and shed light on teacher and school practices that affected access to basic education of at risk students. Data was collected through 217 surveys given to teachers from 28 purposefully selected primary schools in Kisii County, 3 administrator interviews, and 4 focus group interviews comprised of a total of 30 classroom teachers from 14 schools in a sequential mixed methods design. Four research questions that guided this research were: a) How do teachers perceive Free Primary Education in Kenya has influenced access to primary education for marginalized students? b) What do teachers perceive to be at risk categories for marginalized students? c) How do teacher practices influence the retention of marginalized students in education in Kenya? Finally, d) to what extent do teacher beliefs influence their desire to differentiate instruction for marginalized students? Findings from this study indicated that Free Primary Education had led to increased access to basic education through reduction of fees paid by parents to schools, provision of instructional materials, open admission policy, and construction and/or renovation of existing educational facilities. The study also revealed roadblocks that hinder access to basic education for marginalized students such as extra fees levied by schools to parents, poverty, high teacher pupil ratio, lack of skills to equitably educate at risk students in classrooms, and poor health. The participants identified orphans, students with low incidence disabilities, children from extremely poor families, children from single parent households, children engaged in child labor, and children from negligent parents as categories of students who were at risk for marginalization. Moreover, the study revealed some of the teacher and schooling practices with regard to handing marginalized students which included teacher care, professional development, accommodations, remedial teaching, and guidance and counseling. There was a significant correlation between teacher philosophies and teacher willingness to differentiate instruction (rs= 0.43, p<0.05), and also a significant correlation between teachers' philosophies and their willingness to give various accommodations to marginalized students in their classrooms (rs=0.34, p<0.05). Further analysis of data revealed that, a) access to basic education as a class issue, b) access to basic education as a gender issue, c) national tests and measurements as instruments for marginalization, and d) access to education as a teacher critical consciousness issue.