Educational Research and Review Vol. 2 (7), pp. 157-164, July 2007
Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/ERR
ISSN 1990-3839 © 2007 Academic Journals
The issue of poverty in the provision of quality
education in Kenyan secondary schools
Ndiku J. Mualuko
Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, P. O. Box 190, Kakamega- 50100, Kenya.
Accepted 5 June, 2007
Poverty which can be defined in terms of extreme, moderate and relative poverty is a threat to existence
of humanity in modern times especially in the developing world. Worst hit are countries in Sub -
Saharan Africa. The millennium development agenda set to reduce poverty by a half by the year
2015.This expresses the global commitment in ensuring that the living standards of mankind. In Kenya
the wish to alleviate poverty has been articulated since independence through various sessional
papers, commissions, taskforces and development plans. Several proposals have been made in these
documents on how to reduce poverty. However, the challenges of poverty still abound in Kenya. These
challenges threaten provision of social services among majority of Kenyans who total about 56%. One
of the basic social services which are highly threatened is the provision of quality education. This paper
articulates the issue of poverty in provision of quality education. Causes, characteristics, and effects of
poverty in Kenya are discussed. Indictors of quality education are discussed along with the govern-
ment’s efforts to reduce poverty and realize provision of education to most of the deserving citizens.
Conclusions are drawn from the discussions and recommendation made on how best to address the
affects of poverty in the provision of quality education.
Keywords: Poverty, education, quality education, access.
Poverty is the world’s current greatest threat to peace
and stability more than terrorism and other highly publi-
cized struggles. According to (Sachs, 2005) more than
eight million people around the world die each year
because they are too poor to stay alive. Their plight is
hardly articulated because the public hardly comments
about it. The poorest of the poor currently stand at about
one sixth of humanity. They live in extreme poverty and
struggle daily for survival. In the year 2001, the World
Bank estimated roughly 1.1 billion people were living in
extreme poverty down from 1.5 billion in 1981.Of these
people, about 93% live in three regions; East Asia, South
Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty has been on the
increase in sub- Saharan Africa while in East Asia and
South Asia it has been decreasing. For instance, in Sub-
Saharan Africa almost half of the population is deemed to
live in extreme poverty and this proportion has been
rising over the period. In Kenya, poverty has been on the
increase. For instance in 1994 the welfare monitoring
survey estimated the poverty index at about 47.2% while
in 2004 it was estimated at about 56%. This is against
government of Kenya’s commitment at the time of indep-
endence in 1963, to fight illiteracy, disease, ignorance
and poverty with a view to eradicate them and achieve
sustainable development. A policy on poverty reduction
was stated in sessional paper No. 10 of 1965 on African
socialism and its application to planning in Kenya, (GOK,
1999; Republic of Kenya, 1999). Several National deve-
lopment plans, sessional papers, presidential commis-
sions, Task forces and studies in Kenya have ever add-
ressed the issue of poverty, (Republic of Kenya, 1999).
To date poverty is still a challenge and it is recognized as
a major threat to a very significant section of Kenyan hou-
seholds, with worrying follow-on consequences for the
security and economic well-being of those with surplus
income and good services.
When most countries in sub-Saharan Africa attained
independence, there was heavy investment in education
at all levels in order to develop adequate manpower for
national development and provide solutions to problems
158 Educ. Res. Rev.
facing society, poverty included. Consequently higher bu-
dgets were allocated to education to realize these goals.
In Kenya, for example, the recurrent expenditure on edu-
cation at all levels is estimated at about 30% (G.O.K
1993). Despite the heavy investment in education not all
Kenyan children have been able to access education
because of poverty. Thus, poverty threatens the very
means meant to reduce or eradicate it. With pressure
from the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund, through the structural adjustment policy which
introduced cost sharing, budgets for education in many
countries in the region have been reduced so that other
key national sectors such as health, housing, transport,
agriculture and communications can be given attention.
This worsened the situation of access to education in
Kenya. On top of increasing the drop out rate in schools,
provision of quality education in Kenyan schools was aff-
ected because of the provision of quality of facilities and
materials has declined (GOK, 1999). Despite the free pri-
mary education policy introduced by the government in
2003 which saw an increase in the enrolment of primary
school going children, not all have been able to access
education because of some costs which the parent has
to bear. At secondary school level, cost sharing in finan-
cing of education is the current policy in Kenya where the
government bears the cost of hiring teachers as families
and house holds bear the costs of recurrent and capital
expenditure in schools estimated at about 2/3 of the total
cost of secondary education (GOK 1999). To assist the
poor the government allocates bursaries to secondary
schools. Though the bursaries have been able to assist
some of the poor students, not all have benefited. The
current ranging debate in the political circles to offer free
secondary education as from 2008 and the already pro-
mised tuition waiver by the current government are indi-
cators of the much burden families bear in financing
secondary education. These are welcome moves to in as
far as access to secondary education is concerned. This
is because secondary education in Kenya caters for pri-
mary school leavers in the 15 - 18 years age group. This
is an important sector in national and individual develop-
ment for two major reasons. One, at the end of its four-
year learning period, one may be selected for university,
or middle level colleges or professional training such as
primary teaching, medical nursing, vocational and techni-
cal careers. Two, secondary education plays an impor-
tant role in creating the country’s human resource base at
a level higher than primary education. Access to second-
ary education in Kenya is therefore critical.
Although secondary education has expanded conside-
rably since independence, 1963, access to this sector of
learning remains restricted. For instance, only 47% of
pupils who complete primary level education are selected
for entry in the secondary level (Republic of Kenya,
2003). This percentage represents only 27% of the eligib-
gible age group. The restricted transition rates of less
than 50% are due to many challenges. This scenario mili-
tates against government’s determination to achieve EFA
goals for the Kenyan citizenry.
Among the challenges encountered include, inability to
absorb all primary school graduates into secondary sch-
ools (Low transition rates between primary and second-
ary schools), high dropout rates especially in the last two
years of secondary education, HIV/AIDS scourge due to
loss of parents and guardians, insecurity, cultural prac-
tices, and geographical disparities in some parts of Ken-
ya (Achoka et al., 2007)
Secondary school education, which is the last step of
the basic education segment, suffers dropout rates ran-
ging from 10 to 50%. The highest dropout value for the
girls was 50% in the 1997-2000 cohorts while for the
boys was 30% in the 1992 to 1998 to 2001. These rates
are very high. They represent youngsters who: Have no
access to complete secondary education; are youth aged
between 15 - 18 years; are not able to positively contri-
bute to their individual, community and national deve-
lopment of the 21st century. Have bleak future in the
global village of Hi-Tech.
Moreover, as a nation, Kenya incurs a loss whenever
there is a dropout in any educational sector. The dropout
signifies unfulfilled aim, goal and objective for the indivi-
dual, community, and nation. For example, any dropout
at this level marks the country’s loss of potential man-
power for industrialization in the year 2020 (Republic of
Kenya, 1988). In addition, Kenya also incurs shortfall in
her aim to provide EFA by the year 2015 which is also
the year for realization of Millennium Development Goals
(Achoka et al., 2007).
Accumulated effects of lack of access to secondary
education by many youths may be reflected in various
ways such as:
(a) Increased crime
(b) Impoverished persons
(c) Drug addicts
(e) Unskilled persons
(f) Low life expectancy rate
These and other impacts of low or lack of access to
secondary education in Kenya point to the urgent need to
alleviate the situation. As the world focuses to reduce
extreme poverty by a half by the year 2015 as stated in
the Millennium Development Goals, provision of quality
education is paramount.
This paper discusses the issue of poverty in Kenya,
highlighting its causes, characteristics and effects in soc-
iety. The effects of poverty in provision of quality edu-
cation at secondary school level are discussed. Strategic
interventions to overcome financial impediments in pro-
vision of quality education are discussed conclusions and
recommendations are made.
It is not easy to have a universal definition of poverty this
is because there is intense debate about poverty by res-
earchers and some institution. However, according to
(Sachs, 2005) it is generally agreed that poverty can be
defined in terms of three distinguishable degrees. These
are: extreme poverty, moderate poverty and relative po-
verty. Extreme poverty means that households cannot
meet basic needs for survival. Such people are perpe-
tually hungry, unable to access health care; they lack
amenities of safe drinking water, and sanitation. They can
not afford education for their children; they lack basic
shelter for their families and some articles of their clothing
such as shoes. Extreme poverty occurs only in develop-
ping countries. Moderate poverty on the other hand
generally refers to conditions of life in which basic needs
are met, but just barely. Relative poverty is construed as
a household income level below a given proportion of
average national income. In high income countries they
lack access to cultural goods, entertainment, recreation
quality health care, education and other perquisites for
upward social mobility. The World Bank has been defi-
ning poverty in statistical terms of income of one US dol-
lar per day per person, measured at purchasing power
parity to determine the number of extreme poor around
the world. Further to measure moderate poverty, income
between one to two US dollars per day has been used.
These measures have been widely used by government
and they are mostly documented in policy documents.
These figures to define poverty have evolved heated
debates about the definition of poverty. As (Sachs, 2005)
reports, the World Bank relies on household surveys
while other researchers rely on national income accounts.
The debate is not the focus of this paper. The base line is
that poverty in its extreme nature manifests itself in terms
of lack of basic standards of health, nutrition, water and
sanitation, shelter, and other minimum need for survival,
well-being and participation in society.
In Kenya poverty has been defined in terms of the
condition in which poor people find themselves in. For
the purposes of this paper, poverty will be defined in its
multi-dimensional nature where it includes inadequacy of
income and deprivation of basic needs and rights, and
lack of access to productive assets as well as to social
infrastructure and markets (GOK, 1999). According to the
poverty reduction strategy paper for the period 2001 -
2004, qualitative approach of measuring poverty defines
the poor as those who can not afford basic food and non-
food items while the qualitative approach defines poverty
as the inability of people to meet their basic needs. It is
associated with features as lack of land, unemployment,
inability to feed oneself and family, lack of proper housing
sing, poor health and inability to educate children and pay
Causes of poverty in Kenya
As reported in the poverty reduction strategy paper for
the period 2001 – 2004 and the second participatory pov-
erty assessment study in Kenya (GOK, 1997, 1999), the
following are the causes of poverty in Kenya.
• Low agricultural livestock productivity and poor mar-
keting. Mostly caused by traditional farming methods, low
soil fertility, drought and floods, poor and inadequate ext-
ension services, high cost of inputs, low quality seeds,
lack of credit facilities, lack of pasture and water, animal
disease, lack of information and opportunities on mar-
• Insecurity – e.g. banditry, hijacking, raiding, stock theft,
robbery and looting, physical injury, mutilation, rape and
• Unemployment and low wages coupled with lack of
infrastructure for self-employment.
• Bad governance – lack of transparency and accounta-
bility in management of resources and funds meant to
• Land issue – Landlessness, squaterdom, communal
ownership customary laws governing land and fragmen-
• Inadequate roads – poor road network which causes
lack of access to schools, markets and hospitals.
• Cost of social services – health, education etc.
• HIV/AIDS – Young and energetic die leaving the old,
widows and orphans. Causes high dependency and was-
tage of time caring for the ill.
• Gender imbalance – e.g. lack of ownership and control
over productive assets such as land by women, lack of
authority to decide on economic activities at family level
by women, lack of access to credit due to lack of colla-
teral. This makes female headed families vulnerable.
• Disability – Disabled people are denied access to pubic
utilities, good health care, basic education and vital infor-
mation leading to lack of employment opportunities.
• Personal causes – Laziness and social breakdowns.
Characteristics of poverty in Kenya
Defining poverty in Kenya in terms of social mapping and
wealth ranking where people have been categorized as
rich, average (poor) and very poor, (GOK, 1997,1999),
the following status characteristics are likely to be found
anywhere in Kenya Table 1.
Dynamics and effects of poverty in Kenya
Surveys on poverty undertaken by the government and
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) in Kenya (GOK,
1999) have combined quantitative and contextual analy-
ses in order to show the nature of poverty. The reports
160 Educ. Res. Rev.
Table 1. Status characteristics found in Kenya.
Rich Average (Poor) Very Poor
1. Steady job or income generation
opportunities 1. Casual jobs and small scale
business. 1. No job security, illicit business such
as commercial sex, illicit brew.
2. Many material possessions e.g. land,
livestock, houses, plots 2. Some material possessions e.g.
household items, some animals,
and some land.
2. Usually landless, few household
items, no livestock.
3. Easy access to services, such as health,
schools for children, credit etc 3. Limited access to services. Pay
bills with difficulty. 3. Very poor access, if any, to health,
education and other services. No credit.
4. Behaviour which reflects arrogance and
4. Behaviour is mainly in line with
established norms and values.
4. Stressed behaviour associated with
begging, stealing, violence, abuse,
loneliness, some laziness, talk to self
while walking, some work hard, humble
5. Neatly dresses, healthy. 5. Fairly neat in dress 5. Very untidy in dress and habitation.
6. Viewed positively in terms of status. 6. Seen as average, normal 6. Viewed negatively.
7. Have prospects for improving their
conditions to be richer. 7. Aspire to join the rich by
associating with them. 7. Inability to plan their lives – no hope
of imposing their condition.
8. Have few children who continue to higher
education. 8. Children drop out of school to
seek employment. 8. Large family size. Breeding street
show that for instance the poor are not a single group
with only a single problem of lack of money but poverty
has many dimensions- shortened lives, illiteracy and so-
cial exclusion and lack of material means to improve
family circumstances. Further these dimensions can ov-
erlap in different combinations where for example men
view poverty differently from women.
Human and income poverty generally go hand in hand
though not at all times. For example some small farm
households can maintain reasonable incomes until their
lack of effective access to health services, because of
long distances or through local services deficiencies lea-
ves them ill and vulnerable. For others, coping with the
loss of expected farm income as a result of too much or
too little rain and trying to find alternative crops to plant or
additional sources of livelihood is their highest priority.
Equally poverty presents itself in a periodical manner.
Poverty may be seasonal in rural areas; lean periods and
low income availability coincide with periods of endemic
disease. Seasonal rains destroy rural roads and physic-
ally isolate the rural poor from markets and essential
services. Among the urban poor, times of economic hard-
ship fall at the middle of the month when salaried employ-
yees run out of funds.
Some poverty is structural. It systematically excludes a
portion of the population from full national and social par-
ticipation through hunger, inadequate income, powerless-
ness, poor education and disease. For example, if a
parent is poor, the chances of the children becoming non
poor are limited. The parent who is poor has no land to
give, lacks money to educate the family and has a large
family that is inadequately provided for. Other poverty is
more transient and reflects asset of vulnerabilities for
income, assets and entitlements. In this context poverty
means the absence of security and so affects a very wide
spectrum of Kenyan families. They may have adequate
income for some time but may be highly vulnerable to
changes, hazards and misfortune.
The poor generally do not benefit the national proce-
dure for service provision. The poor can not compete in
the liberalized environment. They can not raise fee for
school building levies, are unable to buy drugs basic farm
in puts etc. Thus they are likely to sink further into pover-
Failure to maintain social integration or build hope for
poverty reduction leads to violence against property and
persons. This in turn impacts negatively on the economy
and welfare of both the poor and non poor. For example
there adverse effects on tourism and low income groups
fear the breakdown of social order through insecurity.
From the fore going characteristics, causes and dyna-
mics of poverty, the following can be summarized the
effects of poverty in society: Decline in quality of life; un-
derdevelopment; stress; crime; violence and family break
up; famine; lack of essential social services; prostitution;
environmental degradation as the poor engage in poor
farming practices, burning trees to make charcoal poor
sewage disposal etc; consumption of illicit brew; drug
abuse and death.
Trends in poverty
Poverty in Kenya is on the increase over time. Based on
the welfare monitoring survey – 1997 overall national in-
dex of absolute poverty was estimated at 52% up from
49% in 1994. Currently it is estimated at about 56%. The
number of poor is estimated to be 15 million with three
quarters of them living in the rural areas. The poverty
levels per province according to the 1997 welfare moni-
toring survey are as follows: Table 2.
Table 2. Poverty level.
Province % Poverty level
R. Valley 51
The varied nature of the percentages depicts that poverty
prevalence is different in the different Kenyan provinces.
The highest incidences of poverty are found in the arid
and semi-arid districts of North Eastern province (NEP).
The poor in these areas tend to be physically isolated,
have inferior access to basic goods, services and infras-
tructure and rely on an uncertain resource base.
Women and children are more vulnerable than other
ages and sex groups. This is because women do all hou-
sehold work, care for the sick and run small scale busi-
nesses. Children are vulnerable because they are cared
mostly by women. The youth compared to adults are vul-
nerable because they lack employment, have less access
to credit as they own no property. Equally the rich and the
average are vulnerable because of the high level of
dependency in the African set up. They usually take care
of their relatives and neighbours who are unable in soc-
iety, either want to appear to be good or gain popularity
or due to fear of criticism.
Poverty and provision of quality education
Since independence education was recognized as a ba-
sic human right and a powerful tool for human resource
and national development. Policy documents have reite-
rated the importance of Education in eliminating poverty,
disease and ignorance. To date the Kenyan government
is fully committed to provision of quality education to
guarantee the right to every learner an education that
offers a competitive edge in a global market.
Such commitment has been realized through the Gov-
ernment’s efforts in financing education, reviewing the
education sector, seeking community, development part-
ners and other stakeholders to make substantial invest-
ments in education. Despite such efforts, provision of
quality education has remained elusive due to inadequate
financial resources and other inputs in education, esp-
ecially at school level where the cost sharing policy is in
The most affected are usually the poor in society, the
urban poor and the rural poor mostly in marginal districts.
The resultant effect is that schools mostly located in pov-
erty prone districts tend to be disadvantaged hence offer-
ing less quality compared to schools in better endowed
The term quality has different meanings and has been
variously defined; as excellence (Peters and Waterman,
1982), Value (Feigenbaum, 1951), Fitness for use (Juran
and Gryna, 1988), Conformance to requirement, defect
avoidance (Crosby, 1979) meeting and/or exceeding cus-
tomers’ expectations (Parasuraman et al, 1985) etc cited
in (Cheng and Tam, 1997). ISO 8402 defines quality as
the totality of features and characteristics of a product or
service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied
Similarly, education quality is a rather vague and con-
troversial concept. To different people, the definition may
be different and so the indicators used to describe educa-
tion quality may be different. Some may emphasize qua-
lity of inputs to the education systems whereas others
emphasize the quality of processes and outcomes. Edu-
cation is a complex system embedded in a political, soc-
ial, cultural, and economic context. It focuses on learning
which strengthens the capacities of children to act on
their own behalf through acquisition of relevant know-
ledge skills, and appropriate attitudes. Borrowing form
total quality management and system approach (Cheng
and Tam, 1997) quality education can be defined in terms
of the fitness for use, the satisfaction the needs of
strategic constituencies (Policy makers, parents, school
management committee, teachers, students etc) or con-
formance to strategic constituencies requirements and
expectations by meeting their explicit and implicit expec-
Indicators of quality education
Within the input, process output framework borrowed
from the systems theory, the following are the indicators
of quality education.
In a school set up the inputs refer to the quality of the
learners; their health, nourishment, their readiness to
participate and learn and the support given to them to
learn by their families in terms of financial and psycho-
logical support. The financial inputs usually facilitate pro-
vision of instructional materials, textbooks, physical facili-
ties and equipment like laboratories, classrooms, latrines
/toilets, boarding facilities, stationery, co-curricular facili-
ties, seats, desks and other instructional facilities.
These facilities should be gender sensitive and com-
fortable to all assuring health and safety. Water and sani-
162 Educ. Res. Rev.
tation, class size, psychological elements such as peace-
ful safe environment are key inputs. The quality of the
content also matters. A student centered and non-discri-
minatory curricular that has unique content covering all
areas of numeracy, literacy, life skills and peace educa-
tions are indicators of quality inputs.
Human resources in form of teachers, support staff,
principals and Head teachers their experience, profess-
sional development, adequacy especially of teachers in
terms of pupil teacher ratio is crucial are key inputs. The
extent of care for the teachers especially those with
special needs are paramount.
Time resources refer to the concern for time by the
members, utilization of instructional contact hours, ma-
nagement of meetings and quality of time spent on co-
Other inputs are in terms of quality assurance procedu-
res. Quality assurance refers to the process of ensuring
that learning and teaching resources are put into proper
and maximum use to achieve desired outcomes. In sch-
ools it refers to use of inspection, monitoring implementa-
tion of the school curriculum through external and internal
inspection, external in-servicing of teachers and other
support staff, recording, rewarding, promoting and grad-
ing staff according to well-defined quality system stan-
Process refers to co-ordination of the school wide acti-
vities to bring about achievement of intended goals. Cur-
riculum implementation process of teaching and learning
is paramount in the school processes. The broadness or
narrowness of the school curriculum, the subject options,
effectiveness in time tabling, quality of teacher planning
of daily programmes are crucial along with the school
examination policy and modes of student evaluation. Key
in the effective management of the processes is the ma-
nagement support including professional and supportive
evaluation. Ability of students to understand the medium
of communication is yet an indicator of quality processes.
To be considered in the process are the teaching pro-
cesses, and appropriateness of the teaching approaches.
The use of homework, quality of teacher dialogue, quality
of pupil learning process, their motivation and their prog-
ress in learning are crucial along with their personal res-
ponsibility for learning, for instance, independent thinking
and participation in learning and student to student inter-
action in and out of class. The contribution of the non-tea-
ching staff in learning is also part of the processes which
need not be forgotten.
Communication with parents in relation to support of
learning and teaching process is of importance along with
the quality of the information given about pupil’s pro-
gress. Student support processes of pastoral care, guid-
ance and counseling, attention given to students with sp-
ecial needs and placement of students’ educational need
need not be forgotten.
Lastly in the process is school ethos. Ethos refers to
the school’s tradition in relation to students’ behaviour
and the relationships maintained in school as well as the
link with the community.
Output refers to attainment. Attainment is the success in
reaching or achieving something. The interventions put in
place to achieve school’s mission and vision are con-
sidered, the class size, the retention rate at school, the
evaluation policy and process in the school, attainment in
public examinations, performance in co-curricular activi-
ties and acquisition of useful social and practical skills.
Community related outcomes including knowledge of hu-
man rights and the ability to analyze social situations,
demonstrate autonomy in learning and exercise respon-
sibility towards others are important indicators of quality
Critically analyzed the above indicators of quality edu-
cation cannot be achieved without proper inputs in terms
of finances, time and human energy. Owing to challenges
posed by poverty in provision of quality education where
inputs are not adequate leading to interference with the
processes and outputs, innovation and creativity on the
part of the players in provision of education is paramount.
Innovation in seeking alternatives in financing education
at school level comes in handy.
Effects of poverty on provision of quality education
Having articulated the indicators of Quality Education in
schools, it is worthy to note that all aspects of quality can-
not be achieved because of the effects of poverty in
financing education in Kenya which include:
1. Limited provision of school facilities, equipment and
materials. Such affects the quality of teaching and lear-
2. Less staff development and training opportunities.
3. Poor nutrition and feeding habits in schools
4. Poor health among some students.
5. Poor time management especially when learning is
interrupted as students are sent for fees in some schools.
6. Exposure of students and staff to indiscipline.
7. Exposure of students, parents and staff to stressful
8. Creation of poor relations between the school and
9. Creation of strained relations with the community
10. Poor working relations in schools
11. Lack of development of certain skills in students due
to inadequacies of the curriculum some schools adopt.
12. Increase school drop out.
The list of the effects is long depending on the nature
and type of school and the environment in which the
school is situated. For instance schools in the arid and
semi arid areas are more vulnerable compared to schools
in high and medium economic potential areas. Equally,
schools attracting students from among the urban poor
are more susceptible to poverty compared to school
children of the well to do in society. Worst affected are
girls in some communities where they may be denied
education in favour of boys. In other situations the girls
may be married off to counter the perennial poverty in
their home as the parents hope to be paid some dowry.
Day schools are most affected especially schools in the
low income areas. Other school, attract very few students
such that they can not enjoy economies of scale in
financing educational activities and programmes.
Where the average poor struggle to educate their child-
ren putting almost all the family income in financing of the
education of their children, the poorest of the poor do not
access this service. Contrary, the non poor appear to be
benefiting from the cost sharing arrangement in financing
secondary education hence the escalation of the gap
between the rich and the poor in society.
The school is the most important functional point for
achieving the educational goals. School leaders should
embrace school based management and develop the
knowledge base associated with efficiency and effect-
tiveness in school management for the purposes of achi-
eving the educational goals for the learners. Owing to the
effects of poverty in provision of education, school gove-
rning structures should strategize on the school aspects
which need more emphasis compared to others to meet
the expectations and interests of the most important con-
stituent – the student.
Strategies to reduce poverty
Since independence the Government of Kenya identified
illiteracy, disease, ignorance and poverty as the main
problems to be addressed in order to attain sustainable
development. This was aptly articulated in the Sessional
paper No.10 of 1965 on African Socialism and its applica-
tion on planning in Kenya. It was note that there were
regional and gender dimensions to the problem. The thr-
ough various development plans has attempted to add-
ress the concerns of the disadvantaged groups. Poverty
alleviation has been a subject of subsequent develop-
ment plans, sessional papers, commissions and task for-
ces. The government of Kenya is also a signatory of the
Copenhagen protocol of March 1995 where leaders
committed themselves to goals of eradicating poverty,
universal primary education, aspects of health for all and
social integration of disadvantaged groups (1999). The
National Poverty Eradication Plan was prepared on the
lines of the Copenhagen Summit. It focuses on poverty
eradication, reduction of unemployment, social integra-
tion and creation of an enabling economic, political, cultu-
ral and legal environment for social development. The
poverty reduction policy documents and the Economic
recovery strategy for wealth and employment creation
2003 – 2007 articulate strategies to alleviate poverty, cre-
ate wealth and employment for sustainable development.
Worthy mentioning are the government efforts in provi-
sion of free primary education, increased bursary alloca-
tions to secondary schools, increased provision of scien-
ce equipment for secondary schools especially in arid
and semi arid districts and allocation of grants to some
schools and disbursement of the constituency develop-
ment funds. The recent proposal to waive tuition fees in
all public secondary school as fro the year 2008 is a fur-
ther welcome effort in financing secondary education to
ensure access to education by the poor. These moves
are acknowledged and welcome. However, more efforts
need to be made especially in the financing of education.
Education is widely accepted as the main exit route from
poverty. It is the backbone of growth and development of
individuals and the nation. However, its achievement con-
tinues to elude many Kenyans who are poverty stricken.
This has perpetuated the vicious circle of poverty so
much that the gap between the rich and the poor has
kept on widening as the extreme poor are denied access
to education. Equally access to quality education among
some of the poor has constantly been affected by poverty
in that some access education that is marred by lack of
the right instructional facilities and equipment, poor pro-
cesses of delivery, in-conducive and unattractive learning
environments etc . These render them too uncompetitive
in the job market. However, the efforts by the Govern-
ment of Kenya to avail educational opportunities to the
poor are welcome especially the proposed tuition waiver
in secondary schools. Because this will not fully solve the
problem of the poor in accessing secondary, the educa-
tional stake holder should further augment government
efforts in financing education.
The government and school managers may consider the
following in the financing secondary education to reduce
the burden of financing education among the poor.
• Waiving duty on learning and teaching materials.
• Encouraging industry to assist in financing of education
especially through scholarships.
• Encouraging community initiatives in financing of
• Setting up of education insurance for the poor espe-
cially the orphaned and other vulnerable groups.
• At school level, schools should be encouraged to
diversity the income generating activities by for example
setting up production units in the workshops and
164 Educ. Res. Rev.
• Encourage clubs and to start of income generating
• Setting up endowment funds.
• Sale of raffles.
• Schools should be encouraged to keep good relations
with the communities to attract well wishers who would
wish to give some assistance.
• Mounting training courses to community members with
the resources available in schools e.g. workshops, com-
puter laboratories, home science rooms, sick bays etc
may be new ways to raise funds for school.
Diversification of the income generating activities requi-
res some amount of input in terms of finances which
otherwise which may not be readily available in most
poverty stricken schools. Approaching financial institu-
tions to advance loans to finance feasible income gene-
rating activities may be explored.
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