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Reforming Education Systems in Kenya

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For over 50 years education in Kenya seems like it has been failing year after year. Almost 20 years after independence with Kenya having one of the highest budget spending on education in the world (20% of GDP), the Kenyan education system still lugs behind in terms of quality.

The Kenyan (KE) government spends the equivalent of $258 per child on primary education, yet accomplishes less than the government Zimbabwe ($100 per child). If the problem is not a lack of money, then just what has gone wrong?

The critical element to understand is that history alone is not the only reason why Kenya’s education system is in a crisis. Find below a list of the 10 top challenges faced by Kenya’s education system and 10 possible solutions that can solve Kenya’s education system.

The biggest challenges facing education are

  1. Children are coming out of school without the 3 basic R’s of education that is the ability to read, wRite and aRithmetics
  2. Kenyan teachers do not have the basic pedagogic and content knowledge competencies needed to impart the skills needed by our learners.
  3. Resources are being used in a non-efficient manner with little accountability and transparency.
  4. Inadequate organizational support to teachers and bureaucracy in the educational department.
  5. Failure of the Education Departments to deliver on their core responsibilities.
  6. Kenyan learners do not have a culture of reading and a lack the motivational push to learn from their community and families
  7. Teacher late-coming, absenteeism and an inability to enact the basic functions of teaching are endemic in many Kenyan schools
  8. Power  dynamics at play between a seemingly all-powerful teachers’ union (KOTU) and the State
  9. Lack of basic amenities, infrastructure and learning resources in Kenyan  townships and rural schools
  10. Many learners in Kenyan townships and rural areas come from families affected by poverty, hunger and parents with little or no education themselves.
  11. A lost generation of learners who are not educated nor working because of the state of South Africa’s education system.

The solution

  1. Early in the schooling system the focus should be on producing learners who can read, write and count.
  2. Put in place internal controls to increase accountability, transparency of the learning process and the use of resources towards education at all government levels and in the classroom.
  3. Dedicated focus in improving the resources and infrastructure in township and rural schools
  4. The Department of education should ensure rapid filling of vacant posts and efficient handling of disciplinary cases, or the support of teacher development
  5. The government should take political control of the education system and depoliticize unions in the education sector.
  6. National program to equip the supply of learning materials, the provision of libraries, toilets, repair of windows and leaking roofs, maintenance of desks and infrastructure in South African rural and township schools.
  7. Provide bursaries, school feeding programs, life orientation programs and counseling programs to learners in rural areas and townships
  8. Open vocational training centers and out of school programs to improve the skills of South Africans who are not in school and not working.
  9. Instill values among students so that they go through the system with a sense of responsibility and inclusiveness.

Here is a practical example of how value systems work by Pricilla Were. But let me first introduce her. Priscilla Were, is a renowned educationist and former principal of Bunyore and Lugulu girls, is a firm believer in the power of values. So after years of serving as a teacher and as an employer of teachers, she set out to establish a school run on a value based system. As was recently featured on a local TV channel, here is how it works.

The reason why education is such an important pillar towards Kenya’s development pathway is because a proper education remains the only way to break the cycle of underdevelopment and poverty in the majority Kenyans are still caught.

A proper education system has the potential to increase the employability or income generating capacity of Kenya’s majority poor thereby enabling them to be employed or be entrepreneurs in their own right mitigating on the high inequality levels in Kenya.

Watch the rest of her talk on values systems here.

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  • julius nyaga

    I think we got the whole thing wrong. The education system was designed to benefit the industrial revolution; that is to have qualified university professors and people fit for certain disciplines.

    Being a student is not easy because for one thing no one listens to our views and expectations on education.
    Instead of following our talents and ambitions, we are accustomed to an education system that is comprised of 3 qualities;
    >linearity
    >conformity and

    >Accountability through standardized testing

    The reason we disengage from education is because we find it boring and a waste of life.
    It leaves us frustrated when we go through it only to end up jobless or clueless about life, that’s why we engage in other social unacceptable activities unknowingly either to destruct ourselves from boredom or just out of frustration.

    It’s very painful, from my experience and the experiences of the youth at large.