The Level of Self-Esteem Between Orphan and Non-Orphan Students Among Secondary Schools in Kirinyaga and Nyeri Counties in Kenya

Main Article Content

Joyce Njeri Kinyua
Margaret Wanjiru Gitumu


Self-esteem, mental health, orphans, non-orphans, students, learning


Self-esteem is vital to the development of mental health for better learning. Self-esteem has a great importance as a protective factor in mental health. High self-esteem can lead to better mental health and social behavior, while poor self-esteem is linked to a broad range of mental disorders such as depression, suicidal tendencies, eating disorders and anxiety, violence and substance abuse. Secondary school students especially orphan face numerous challenges during their formative years, including academic pressures, peer relationships and socio-economic factors, all of which can significantly impact their self-esteem and mental well-being. The objective of the study was to assess the level of self-esteem between orphan and non-orphan students among secondary schools in Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties in Kenya.  This study was guided by Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs and Bowlby’s theory of attachment. The study was a survey, which utilized casual comparative research design. According to county education offices in the two counties, the total population of students was 58,448. Stratified and purposive sampling methods were used to select a sample of 426 students. A questionnaire was used to collect the data. In data analysis, descriptive (frequencies, percentages) and inferential (t- test) statistics were used. The findings revealed statistically significant differences in self-esteem levels between orphans and non-orphans across various attributes: psychological needs t(398) =-8.171, p < 0.000), safety needs t(398) =-5.300, p < 0.000), love and belonging t(398) = -1.600, p < 0.000), secure attachment (t(398) = -6.300, p < 0.000) and development of trust (t(398) =-5.800, p < 0.000). Orphan students reported lower levels of self-esteem on average compared to their non-orphan counterparts. This difference may stem from various factors, including the absence of parental support and stability in orphaned students' lives, leading to a greater sense of vulnerability and insecurity. The recommendation is that the government should come up with comprehensive policies to promote the well-being of the students registering low self-esteem and promote mental health so as to minimize mental disorders among students for better learning.

Abstract 73 | PDF Downloads 49


Brown, J. D., & Marshall, M. A. (2013). The three faces of self-esteem. In Self-esteem issues and answers (pp. 4-9). Psychology Press.

Buckland, H. (2012). The instinctual visceral mother: Theoretical investigation of mother's body in depth psychology. Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Dar, S. A., & Sakthivel, P. (2022). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Is still Relevant in the 21st Century. Journal of Learning and Educational Policy, 2(5), 1-9.

Diener, E., & Lucas, R. E. (2000). Explaining differences in societal levels of happiness: Relative standards, need fulfillment, culture, and evaluation theory. Journal of happiness studies, 1, 41-78.

Doyle, C., & Cicchetti, D. (2017). From the cradle to the grave: The effect of adverse caregiving environments on attachment and relationships throughout the lifespan. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 24(2), 203.

Gitumu, M. W. (2011). Relationship between students’ self-esteem, orphanhood and educational performance in Nyeri and Kirinyaga Counties, Kenya.

Hartman, D., & Zimberoff, D. (2008). Higher Stages of Human Development. Journal of Heart-Centered Therapies, 11(2).

Hulme, N., Hirsch, C., & Stopa, L. (2012). Images of the self and self-esteem: Do positive self-images improve self-esteem in social anxiety?. Cognitive behaviour therapy, 41(2), 163-173.

Ihensekien, O. A., & Joel, A. C. (2023). Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Frederick Herzberg's Two-Factor Motivation Theories: Implications for Organizational Performance. The Romanian Economic Journal, 85.

Imafuku, M., & Akatsuka, A. (2022). The mediating role of self-esteem in the relationship between persistence and satisfaction with school and life in elementary school children. Child Care in Practice, 1-8.

Kibuthu, J., & Muasa, W. P. (2023). Factors Contributing to Low Self-Esteem among Students in Mixed Secondary Schools in Soweto, Embakasi East Constituency, Nairobi County, Kenya. International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science, 7(9), 01-10.

Malekpour, M. (2007). Effects of attachment on early and later development. The British Journal of Development Disabilities, 53(105), 81-95.

Moneta, G. B., Schneider, B., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2017). A longitudinal study of the self-concept and experiential components of self-worth and affect across adolescence. In Conditions for Optimal Development in Adolescence (pp. 125-142). Psychology Press.

Moradi Sheykhjan, T., Jabari, K., & Rajeswari, K. (2014). Self-Esteem and Academic Achievement of High School Students. Online Submission, 2(2), 38-41.

Mruk, C. J. (2006). Self-esteem research, theory, and practice: Toward a positive psychology of self-esteem. Springer Publishing Company.

Muchemi, P. (2023). Self-Esteem Levels Among Secondary School Students In Different Categories Of Schools. Case Of Public Secondary Schools In Nyandarua West Sub-County, Kenya. European Journal of Education Studies, 10(11).

Music, G. (2016). Nurturing natures: Attachment and children's emotional, sociocultural and brain development. Routledge.

Myers, D.G. (2001). Psychology. (6th Ed) USA. New York: Worth Publishers.

Papalia, D.E. and Olds, S.W. (1995). Human Development. (6th ed) USA. New York: McGraw Hill Inc.

Pervin, L.A. and John O.P. (1997). Personality. Theory and Research. (7th ed.) USA. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Plummer, D. (2007). Helping children to build self-esteem: a photocopiable activities book second edition. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Quintavalla, A., & Heine, K. (2019). Priorities and human rights. The International Journal of Human Rights, 23(4), 679-697.

Rogers, D. (1969). Issues In Child Development: Belment: Wadsworth Publishing Co.

Sarafino, E. P., & Armstrong, J. W. (1986). Child and adolescent development.

Wai, L. K., & Osman, S. (2019). The influence of selfesteem in the relationship of social media usage and conspicuous consumption. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 9(2), 335-352.

Zeigler-Hill, V. (2011). The connections between self-esteem and psychopathology. Journal of contemporary psychotherapy, 41, 157-164.