ChapterPDF Available

Abstract

This book explore notions of quality as understood within various systems of national, formal, and nonformal education. It considers the tensions that arise with the introduction of new standardized notions of quality in relation to international measures and educational reforms in developing countries. Challenges to quality that are given particular attention in the book chapters include changing definitions of quality, high expectations for education and issues with implementation, and the introduction of English as a means to achieve quality in a globalizing world. Special attention is also given to possible actions that support a more equitable education with ignoring the requisite of quality.
C. Acedo, D. Adams, S. Popa (Eds.), Quality and Qualities: Tensions in Education Reforms, 143–162.
© 2012 Sense Publishers. All rights reserved.
MACRINA C. LELEI AND JOHN C. WEIDMAN
EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA
Enhancing Access and Quality
In this chapter we examine formal education development in post-independence
Kenya. We place particular emphasis on key challenges to providing education of
sufficient quality to assure that all Kenyan students acquire the capacities they need
to participate as productive citizens in their local, national, and global
communities. Our focus is on national policy initiatives for education reform that
were developed under successive government leaders.
In the first section we provide background on the economic development of
Kenya, contrasting it with South Korea, a nation that was at a similar economic
level in the 1960s. Section two contains a brief look at the pre-independence period
in Kenya when Christian missions and colonial government represented the main
educational frameworks; within them western values and social practices were
introduced and promoted to replace the traditional approaches to education that
existed in local communities before colonization. In the next sections we examine
education reform policies and challenges in post-independence Kenya, focusing
specifically on the critical policies that changed the structure and expanded
education under each of the three presidents: Jomo Kenyatta (1963–1978); Daniel
Moi (1978–2002); and Mwai Kibaki (2003–present). We conclude with a
discussion of the ongoing reform initiatives in Kenyan education, the role of
planning and effective implementation, and continuing issues with governance and
corruption that disrupt the flow of resources to schools.
BACKGROUND
Kenya, located in Eastern Africa, is bisected lengthwise by the Great Rift Valley
that runs from Jordan in the north to Mozambique in the south. Kenya shares
common borders with five other nations: Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the
west, Sudan to the northwest, Ethiopia to the north, and Somalia to the east. The
Indian Ocean coastline that forms the Eastern border stretches some 480 kilometers
from the Somali border to the Tanzania border. The country has a varied landscape
of plateaus and high mountains creating contrasts in climate, from hot and humid
along the coast, to cool in the central highlands, and hot and dry in the arid and
semi-arid north and northeast.
Kenya gained independence from Great Britain in 1963 and has been a republic
since 1964. For administrative purposes, the country is divided into eight provinces
that are further subdivided into districts. The current population is just over 40
million, making it the 33rd most populous nation in the world. Only 22% of the
MACRINA C. LELEI AND JOHN C. WEIDMAN
144
population lives in urban areas; three quarters of the labor force is engaged in
agriculture. The rural situation is marked by continuing stagnation, subsistence
agriculture, low incomes, and increasing vulnerabilities among poor people. Lack
of access to markets is a problem for many small-scale enterprises in Kenya. The
rural population is poorly organized and often isolated, beyond the reach of social
safety nets and poverty programs.
Kenya is classified as a low-income country. With a 2009 per capita GDP in
Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of $1,600, it ranks 100th in the world. In 2008, the
estimated unemployment rate was 40%, placing Kenya at 190th in the world (CIA,
2010a). On the Human Development Index (life expectancy, educational
attainment, and standard of living) of the United Nations Development Program,
Kenya ranks 148th among 177 countries (UNDP, 2007). That report notes that half
the Kenyan population is poor, with about 10 million people living in extreme
poverty without a visible means of support. Increasingly, government policies and
investments in poverty reduction tend to favor urban over rural areas.
Overall, poverty is widespread, declining only marginally in the past decade,
from 52.9% in 1997 to 49.1% in 2005/6. Poverty, though still high, declined much
more dramatically in urban than rural areas during this period, from 49.7% to
33.7% (National Bureau of Statistics [NBS], 2007, p. 43). Kenya’s current poverty
problems have been intensifying because of poor governance, corruption, and
mismanagement of public resources, as well as growing youth unemployment, a
common set of issues across many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
To put the economic development pattern of Kenya from independence to the
present in context, it is instructive to contrast it with South Korea, whose per capita
GDP in the 1960s “was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa
and Asia” (CIA, 2010b). In 1960, just 27.7% of South Koreans lived in urban areas
(Global Finance, 2010). However, 50 years later, South Korea, with a population
15% larger than Kenya’s but concentrated in a much smaller land area, had
urbanized (81%); built a strong, industrially-based economy (25% of labor force in
industry, 68% in services); and grown to be the 13th largest world economy (PPP
of 1.36 trillion) with a GDP per capita of $28,000 (PPP), ranking 49th in the world
(CIA, 2010b). South Korea has achieved virtually universal secondary education
with more than 80% of its high school graduates continuing on to higher education.
In Kenya, in 2006, just 25.9% (62,926) of all students (243,319) sitting for the
Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) qualified for admission to
public universities (grade of at least C+) and only 7% (17,000) were actually
admitted due to limited space (Kenya School Magazine, 2010, Tables 4–11).
As of 2009, 81.6% of the total population in South Korea used the Internet,
compared with just 10% in Kenya. The public demand driving this dramatic
expansion of the South Korean education system has as its foundation the enduring
fervor of parents who “believe that the education of their children is their foremost
responsibility”; thus “they endure any suffering necessary to make certain that
excellent schools and other educational resources are available” (Park & Weidman,
2000, p. 178).
EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA: ENHANCING ACCESS AND QUALITY
145
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATION IN KENYA
Indigenous education had existed for centuries in Africa before the introduction of
formal, Western schooling by missionaries and British colonial authorities who
viewed the traditional education system as “backward”. Consequently, Africans
were encouraged to abandon their traditional approaches and embrace a new
formal system of education. Colonial values replaced traditional African values. In
the process, indigenous education was relegated to the margins, associated as it
was with the rural people who lost their socio-economic power with the coming of
British domination. In the mid-19th century, missionaries laid the foundation for
formal education in Kenya when they began their activities, mainly in areas along
the coast where they introduced reading as an important mechanism for spreading
Christianity.
In 1902, a school for European children was opened in Kenya, followed a few
years later by another school for Asian children. By 1910, 35 mission schools had
been founded, emphasizing reading, writing, and arithmetic (Sheffield, 1973). The
missionaries, viewing indigenous education as inferior, were determined to expose
Africans to a superior culture and instruct students in the word of God. The
curriculum in the mission schools was disconnected from village life and often
aimed to alienate children from their African culture and value system. Unlike
indigenous education, formal schooling under the missionaries (and colonial
government) was not part of people’s economic life and did not serve the African
community. Over time, this meant a steady but limited flow of African manpower
towards colonial enterprises.
Colonial education policy was influenced by three important factors: (1) conflict
between the needs of the settler economy based on plantation agriculture and
British industrial needs; (2) conflict among foreign interests (settlers, missionaries,
and the British administration) based on tensions between the colonials’ desire to
“modernize” Africa and the Africans’ determination to preserve their customs,
cultures, and traditions; and (3) the challenge of devising an educational system to
provide a “relevant” education to Africans that would make them good laborers
and good Christians but not “intelligent thinking” human beings who might
question and start to oppose the colonial regime (Sheffield, 1973). The objectives
of education in this case were not to help the Africans live in harmony with their
local environment but rather to perpetuate the master-servant status quo between
the colonizers and the colonized.
A pattern of establishing expert commissions to review the structure and
function of education was begun in Kenya in the pre-independence era. Colonial
commissions were guided by a philosophical foundation for British educational
policy in Kenya designed to create a small, semi-literate, indigenous population of
“good” Christians and to educate Africans to provide labor for Europeans
(Sheffield, 1973). The first commission, headed by Professor Nelson Fraser, was
appointed in 1909. He emphasized an academic curriculum for white and Asian
children. For Africans, he recommended an industrial training curriculum with dual
MACRINA C. LELEI AND JOHN C. WEIDMAN
146
goals: service under a white employer and work in his own community to help the
protectorate prosper.
The 1919 Education Commission Report argued that secular government
schools could not be successful without “proper” religious and moral instruction. It
recommended the development of education largely through the missionary
societies’ “assisted schools”, which continued to use education as a tool to expand
religious activities and enlarge their own spheres of influence. The 1924 Phelps-
Stokes Commission Report criticized the African educational system provided by
mission schools as being too literary and impractical for the realities of peasant-
based African societies. It re-emphasized the need for agricultural and vocational
education suitable for the natives and was totally opposed to an academic
education for Africans (Sheffield, 1973).
Many commissions followed, all aimed at redefining what was best for the
Africans. In the process, Africans who had embraced colonial education began to
react to their treatment. When the missions banned female circumcision in 1929,
the Kikuyu of the Central Province began to boycott mission schools and
demanded an end to their monopoly over education. The Kikuyu opened
independent schools that relied on indigenous community fundraising and
collective labor to build schools. By 1939, there were 63 independent Kikuyu
schools with a total enrollment of 12,963 students (Eshiwani, 1993). Nonetheless,
the British determined the kind of education that would be given to the Africans,
limiting it primarily to practical skills suitable for working on the Europeans’ farms
with no regard for what was appropriate for the needs of Africans. Until 1944,
Africans were prohibited from participating directly in politics and were forced to
live in reserves to work on the settlers’ farms. In order to maintain control over
Africans, the colonial government forced them to work but still imposed taxes.
The Beecher Commission on Education was established in 1948 to make
recommendations for the implementation of a 10-year plan to revamp the
educational system. The Beecher Commission Report concluded that primary
education lacked significant financing or adequate control, and that an increasing
number of educational facilities were of generally inadequate quality. To rectify
the situation, the commission recommended stricter control over primary schools
through greater centralization, a position the Africans interpreted as an attempt to
exercise control over their schools. Africans had established independent schools to
provide education for their children because the missions and government schools
were not adequate. The independent schools flourished for about 22 years. In 1952,
the government closed these schools because they were seen as major threats to
colonial sovereignty (Sheffield, 1973).
It is important to note that the treatment of “African education” as a separate and
inferior entity led to certain historical consequences that are still a problem in the
present system of education, particularly for the poor and marginalized living in
disadvantaged regions. During the 10 years before independence, more capital was
invested in education for Europeans and Asians, who represented 3% of the
population, than in the education of the African population, who represented 97%
(Ominde, 1964). The assumption was that these were separate communities that
EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA: ENHANCING ACCESS AND QUALITY
147
would remain separate for a long time to come. Consequently, the education
provided had, as far as possible, to “suit” the requirements of each community.
Moreover, the idea was often advanced that there ought to be some correspondence
between a community’s contribution to national revenue and the educational
dividends that it received (Ominde, 1964).
Colonial education for the Africans was inadequate in both quantity and scope,
with narrow and restrictive objectives. For instance, out of a total of 25,903
students in secondary schools in 1962, only 8,033 (31%) were Africans (Eshiwani,
1993, p. 202). These figures must be seen in comparison to the total population,
97% of which was African. The restrictive effect of colonial policy on African
education meant that a large majority of children of school age were not going to
school. Only a very small number of Africans passed through the system, thus
creating a small, educationally elite group, many assuming leadership positions
after independence.
The Jomo Kenyatta Administration (1963–1978)
The first president elected following Kenyan independence from Great Britain in
1963 was Jomo Kenyatta. Like many other newly independent African countries,
the new government in Kenya emphasized that education was critical for national
development and immediately embarked on developing policies that would address
issues of opportunity, access, and equity. Key objectives included (1) producing
the skilled and high-level personnel needed to facilitate the urgent process of socio-
economic development; (2) providing education that would help young people
acquire a sense of nationhood by promoting positive attitudes of mutual respect
that would enable them to live in harmony and to contribute to the society’s
aspirations (Ominde, 1964); and (3) offering equal opportunity and social justice
for all Kenyans.
Pursuing these objectives was essential because colonial education had been
designed to set the races apart in a complex of relationships that ensured that one
group was dominant over others. Even among Africans, ethnic group differences
were manipulated to keep the various communities apart (Gould, 1993). Kenyatta’s
first public address to the nation after independence and a subsequent government
document laying out his policy directions affirmed these objectives (Republic of
Kenya, 1965).
Kenyatta saw education as a vehicle to restore African dignity, to recapture the
national heritage that had been diminished by the imposition of an alien culture,
and to prepare Kenyan society for its place in the modern international community
(Republic of Kenya, 1965). Following the pre-independence pattern, the new
Ministry of Education (MoE) set up its first national commission in 1964 to assess
the education system, review policy needs, and recommend improvements to the
government.
Ominde Commission (1964). Under the chairmanship of the distinguished
African academic, Professor Simeon H. Ominde, then Minister of Education, the
MACRINA C. LELEI AND JOHN C. WEIDMAN
148
Kenya Education Commission (Ominde, 1964) undertook an exhaustive
investigation of all aspects of education in Kenya. Ominde was one of the few
Africans to hold high academic credentials at the time and was a product of the
colonial education system, having earned his doctorate at the University of London
in 1963. The task at hand was to look critically at the situation of education and
formulate official educational policies to meet the needs of a newly independent
nation. The urgent need was to abolish segregation on the basis of race and foster
the psychological basis of nationhood, both to promote national unity and to serve
as an instrument for conscious change of attitudes (Ominde, 1964).
Table 1. Primary and secondary education enrollment in Kenya, 1963–2009 (selected years)
Primary Education Secondary Education
Year Schools Students Teachers Schools Students Teachers
1963 5,058 891,553 22,772 151 31,120 1,602
1964 5,150 1,014,791 27,828 222 35,921 2,000
1966 5,699 1,043,416 33,522 400 63,193 3,004
1968 6,135 1,209,680 37,923 601 101,351 4,644
1970 6,123 1,427,589 41,479 783 126,855 5,881
1972 6,657 1,675,919 53,536 849 161,910 7,106
1974 7,668 2,705,878 a 78,340 1,019 195,832 -
1976 8,544 2,894,617 89,074 1,268 274,838 11,438
1978 9,243 2,994,991 92,046 1,773 354,452 14,296
1980 10,268 3,931,500 102,489 1,682 410,626 15,916
1986 12,943 4,624,278 139,326 2,395 500,000 21,966
1988 14,288 5,123,581 108,424
b
2,717 540,192 16,611
b
1990 14,864 5,392,319 121,461 2,678 618,461 19,431
1992 15,465 5,563,987 135,406 2,640 629,062 27,447
1994 15,906 5,557,008 155,591 2,834 619,839 31,593
1996 16,522 5,597,656 171,055 3,004 658,253 34,923
1998 17,623 5,919,721 185,736 3,081 700,538 40,437
2000 18,617 6,155,500 173,005 3,197 772,464 38,997
2002 19,124 6,062,900c 175,792 3,687 778,601 44,005
2003 23,554 7,159,500a 176,316 5,073 882,513 44,792
2004 24,643 7,394,700 176,381 5,142 926,150 46,479
2006 25,929 7,632,200 162,072 5,659 1,030,080 42,183
2007 26,104 8,330,200 171,643 6,485 1,180,267 44,076
2008 26,206 8,563,800 170,059 6,566 1,382,211 42,867
2009 26,607 8,831,400 171,301 6,971 1,507,546 47,958
Notes: a Large enrollment increases were caused by eliminating school fees for grades 1–4 in
1974 and grades 1–8 in 2003. b For years 1988 to 2009, these are the numbers of “trained
(graduate, approved, S1/Diploma) teachers. c For years 2002–2009, enrollment numbers are
for grades 1–8 of formal education; non-formal education enrollments are not included.
Sources: For 1963–1986 data, Eshiwani (1993, Table 4.2); for 1988–1994 data, CBS (1996);
for 1996–2000 data, CBS (2003); and for 2002–2009 data, CBS (2007), NBS (2009, 2010).
EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA: ENHANCING ACCESS AND QUALITY
149
Another significant recommendation was to expand educational opportunities
for Africans, especially at the secondary and tertiary levels, to meet the demand
from a fast-growing population and to build an educated workforce to meet the
economic development needs of the new nation (Ominde, 1964). The
commission’s purpose was to change the atmosphere of education and to endow it
with a new relevance for the African population, instead of the colonial/missionary
agenda.
The Ominde Commission recommended policy to enable expansion of the
education system. It recommended increasing the opportunities for access to the
formal sectors of education through the establishment of schools with funds
generated by local community members. When President Kenyatta addressed the
nation at independence in 1963, he urged the people of Kenya to work hard
together to build the nation as an extension of the African family spirit of
“harambee”, a Swahili word meaning pulling together in the tradition of mutual
social responsibility. From that time on, “harambee” became a motivating force for
development (Eshiwani, 1993, p. 21).
As Table 1 shows, enrollments rose from 891,553 primary and 31,120
secondary school students in 1963 to 1,209,680 primary and 101,351 secondary
school students in 1968. Even though many more Africans had the opportunity to
attend schools, education reform brought a series of new challenges. Expansion
was initially justified in terms of economic factors, especially manpower
development needs. However, as the locally funded “harambee” schools grew in
number and sought government support other rationales were put forward,
including increasing opportunity for social mobility, particularly for those moving
from rural to urban areas. With the continuing emphasis on meritocratic selection
through national examinations at the end of primary and secondary school, the
colonial educational system was actually reinforced (Court, 1976).
This approach neglected development in rural areas where the vast majority of
Kenyans lived, a critical mistake that was repeated in the ensuing years. The
Ominde Reports (1964, 1965), for instance, were widely criticized for creating a
system of education that became elitist and promoted rural-to-urban migration. It
was also seen as a wasteful system because many students did not complete the
transition from primary to secondary school, and unemployment increased because
the labor market could not absorb even those who completed secondary school.
Gachathi Commission (1976). In search of new solutions to the growing
mismatch between the demands of the emerging labor market and the education
being provided, the government appointed the National Committee on Educational
Objectives and Policies chaired by Peter J. Gachathi, then Permanent Secretary in
the Ministry of Education (Gachathi, 1976; Republic of Kenya, 1978). This was the
second commission appointed by President Kenyatta in response to numerous
problems the education system had experienced, especially the relevance of
education to rural development, the enormous increase in the cost of education
since independence, and the rapidly rising level of unemployment among school
leavers. Three goals were set for this committee: (1) evaluate the system of
MACRINA C. LELEI AND JOHN C. WEIDMAN
150
education; (2) define a new set of educational goals for the second decade of
independence; and (3) formulate a specific program of actions to achieve these
goals (Gachathi, 1976). The committee prepared and submitted a report (Republic
of Kenya, 1978) that formed the basis for preparing a sessional paper for
Parliament and policy statements on education by the government.
In the decade following the Ominde Report of 1964, Kenya’s economy had not
grown as anticipated. Instead, for Kenyans the cost of education had become
almost unbearable; meanwhile, the rates of unemployment and rural-to-urban
migration were rising. Although the government had achieved considerable success
in employment in the years immediately after independence, it now faced a major
challenge: creating more employment opportunities to accommodate the growing
demand. The transition from a traditional society dependent on agricultural
subsistence to a modern society had produced undesirable results that had become
impediments to economic growth as the majority of people left their rural homes to
search for employment in urban areas (Gachathi, 1976; Republic of Kenya, 1978).
These rural-to-urban migrations were creating urban slums with all their
consequent problems. Also, rising school enrollments had been accompanied by
high dropout rates; this wasted the funds spent on education in terms of both
human resources and productivity. Between 1964 and 1975, the transition rates
from primary to secondary school stayed at levels just over 30%, due largely to the
insufficient number of secondary schools (Gachathi, 1976).
The academic system of education had encouraged the myth that formal
education automatically led to high-wage employment in the modern urbanized
sector of the economy (Bigstein, 1984). These problems were blamed on the
Ominde Reports which were criticized for focusing on quantitative expansion of
education at the expense of quality improvement. The policies adopted on the
recommendations of the Ominde Reports had neglected the skills needed for rural
development. A new approach was needed to focus more on making education
more relevant to the current and future needs of a modernizing economy that
requires more technological inputs and skills for its development (Anderson,
1973). The Gachathi Commission was entrusted to provide the government with a
policy document that would serve as a framework for reforming the education
system to meet the needs of Kenyans, especially those in rural areas.
The Gachathi Committee identified two key problems with the education system
in Kenya. First, most of the gains from independent Kenya’s rapid economic
growth tended to concentrate in the modern formal sector of the economy. Since
only the relatively few people who completed secondary and tertiary levels of
formal education found it easy to enter this sector, the majority of Kenyans were
left with low-paying jobs or none at all. Second, the objectives, structure, and
content of the education system were highly selective. The aim was to produce a
few individuals who were well equipped to take their places in the modern formal
sector of the economy (Gachathi, 1976).
The situation required an urgent review in order to forestall a possible distortion
of priorities in planning the economy. The quantitative expansion in the education
system during the first decade of independence had highlighted the incipient
EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA: ENHANCING ACCESS AND QUALITY
151
competition among graduates for individual, social, and economic advancement
within the small but expanding modern sector of the economy. Furthermore, this
expansion had absorbed an ever-increasing proportion of the resources the nation
had available for all services, including education, that were necessary for social
change (Anderson, 1973).
The Kenyatta government was anxious to create new means for individuals to
acquire skills and abilities that would improve their social and economic status and
make them self-sufficient. Therefore, it declared its intention to encourage the
growth of community-financed harambee institutes of technology. These would
cater for individuals of widely varying backgrounds and ages by providing specific
forms of training and skill development within settings that were responsive to the
needs in rural areas. These institutions were expected to address themselves to the
more specialized problems of skill development at the community level, thereby
motivating individuals and stimulating employment, both flexibly and efficiently.
In the long run, those institutes of technology would be expected to evolve into a
network of institutions that sought to develop the abilities of community members
through means that the formal educational system could not provide.
Among the many recommendations appearing in the Gachathi Report (1976,
Republic of Kenya, 1978), three were particularly important. First, access to seven
years of basic education for every child should be regarded as a fundamental right
and provided free of charge. Second, public funds should be directed to improving
the quality and content of education. Third, the government should continue to
review the curriculum, methods of teaching, and forms of selection for student
transition that were being used at the primary and secondary levels, with a view to
making the content of the educational system more relevant to the country’s social
and economic needs. Much had been written and said by the public against the
Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) and about the need to abolish it. And
concern was growing about the deteriorating quality of teaching in primary schools
and the consequent poor performance by students in examinations. The Gachathi
Report stressed that no improvement of education quality could be achieved
without addressing the quality of teachers.
Daniel Moi Administration (1978–2002)
Jomo Kenyatta died in 1978 and was succeeded by his vice president, Daniel Moi.
Although the education system inherited by the Moi administration was much
improved, the country still faced major challenges of underemployment and
unemployment and unequal distribution of resources between regions. The poor
and marginalized did not enjoy the same opportunities as those from privileged
parts of the country. To address these problems, the government focused on
making the curriculum more vocational through village polytechnics that would
develop students’ skills to allow them to become self-employed, especially in rural
areas; it also expanded the civil service in the late 1970s.
President Moi continued Kenyatta’s efforts to strengthen the harambee
initiatives, particularly in disadvantaged parts of the country, and helped build
MACRINA C. LELEI AND JOHN C. WEIDMAN
152
more schools, at both primary and secondary levels. While the harambee schools
tended to be of relatively low quality compared to government-funded schools,
they did provide opportunities for rural children to get at least a primary education.
They also reflected strong grassroots support of education at the community level.
President Moi’s regime represented the voice of the marginalized communities
located in the relatively underdeveloped areas inhabited by “the smalls”, “the
unmobilized”, and “the have-nots” (Barkan, 1994, p. 170). In the post-
independence years, the education system had been manipulated by wealthy ethnic
groups and had not benefited all Kenyans equally. According to Barkan (1994),
President Moi was committed to ensuring a more equitable distribution of
resources for education. Having come from a disadvantaged community and been
trained as a secondary school teacher, President Moi was more determined to
address these issues. He pushed for several policy changes and reforms in the
education sector that had far-reaching implications for the country. Within ten
years he overhauled the education system and oversaw the construction in more
remote areas of schools that could compete effectively with those in the more
established areas. Like his predecessor, however, he did tend to manipulate the
education system to meet his political ends.
President Moi announced free primary education in 1978 as a measure to
facilitate more participation by poor children, along with a free milk program to
help feed poor children. Unfortunately these policies did not materialize and soon
education became very expensive for the poor, resulting in high dropout rates and
wastage in the school system. The need to correct the shortcomings in the
education system coincided with the government’s desire to help the marginalized
communities, especially those from the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs), as
well as its efforts to maintain a fair balance among the communities that were
already well ahead. Later political developments in the country would influence the
nature and course of the reforms and other changes to be effected.
The post-1980 reforms in education in Kenya cannot be understood without
reference to President Moi’s commitment to uplifting marginalized communities,
which formed the bulk of his political support. He also sought support from
minority ethnic groups in the face of opposition from a very well entrenched
political elite led by the Kikuyu that had dominated the national political landscape
during Kenyatta’s time. President Moi was also instrumental in expanding higher
education, appointing the Mackay Commission in 1981 to study the country’s
needs for higher education.
Mackay Commission (1981). The task of the Presidential Working Commission
on the Establishment of the Second University in Kenya (Republic of Kenya, 1981)
was to evaluate the higher education system in relation to the country’s objectives
for rural development. The Mackay Commission recommended establishing a
second public university to complement Nairobi University. The country was
facing growing unemployment, intensified by the migration of rural secondary
school graduates to the cities in search of employment opportunities in the formal
sector. The role of the second university would be to train individuals to help
EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA: ENHANCING ACCESS AND QUALITY
153
enhance rural development, thus promoting the government’s interest in matching
academic content to social and economic development needs. Consequently,
faculties of agriculture, medicine, and development studies would be among those
established. The creation of a second public university would enable the
government to maintain its control over higher education, which was being
threatened by the potential growth of private universities, which were taking
advantage of the increasing numbers of students completing secondary school. This
new institution was ultimately established in Eldoret, in western Kenya, and named
after President Moi.
Another significant recommendation of the Mackay Report was to restructure
Kenya’s system of education, moving away from the British structure of seven
years of primary, four years of secondary, two years of advanced secondary, and
three years of university (7-4-2-3) culminating in a bachelor’s degree. The new
structure resembled a common American pattern, with eight years of primary, four
years of secondary, and four years of college or university (8-4-4) leading to the
bachelor’s degree. Curricular changes were recommended that included more
emphasis on practical courses so that those who did not go on to higher education
would have skills for jobs in the emerging labor market or for self-employment.
The report also recommended that all students at the secondary level be required to
take science and mathematics for graduation.
These recommendations, similar to those cited in the Gachathi Report (1978),
were seen as addressing problems related to a sluggish economy with high
unemployment, rural-urban migration, and a growing demand for higher education.
The key policy focus was on improving education financing, quality, and
relevance, and expanding university education at a time when provision of
instructional materials through the National Textbook Scheme was inefficient and,
therefore, adversely affected the quality of teaching and learning. It also focused on
rural development, which had been neglected as a key driver of overall national
development.
Although it emphasized a more “practical” curriculum, the 8-4-4 system
continued to be highly selective. It retained streaming or tracking at all levels along
with rigorous national examinations for the transitions from primary to secondary
and from secondary to higher education that existed under the 7-4-3-2 system. The
continuing inequity across the educational system led the government to appoint
another commission in 1988.
Kamunge Commission (1988). The Presidential Working Party on Education and
Manpower Training for the Next Decade and Beyond (Kamunge, 1988; Ministry of
Education [MoE], 1988) was the second commission appointed by President Moi
to review education and training. The commission conducted a comprehensive
review of national educational philosophy, policies, and objectives to ascertain
whether they were in consonance with changing social, cultural, economic, and
political demands in the country, and to recommend ways and means of improving
the existing situation.
MACRINA C. LELEI AND JOHN C. WEIDMAN
154
The commission emphasized that it was mainly through education, training, and
research that the nation would be able to meet the many challenges of socio-
economic development and industrialization, utilize modern technology, and
enhance the quality of life for all Kenyans (Kamunge, 1988). It supported the 8-4-4
system of education, especially its broadly-based, more vocationally-oriented
curriculum. Recognizing the increasing financial demands of education, it
proposed cost-sharing, arguing that because of the vocational orientation of the
new curriculum, its implementation required better physical facilities, teaching and
learning materials, and teachers. In order to sustain quality and relevance, it
argued, it would be necessary to coordinate and harmonize curriculum,
examinations and certification, and to ensure effective management and
supervision at all levels (Kamunge, 1988; MoE, 1988).
Kenya was under pressure due to the structural adjustment policies of the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which aimed to reduce social
sector expenditures, including education, that were seen as contributing to the
increasing debt and being an obstacle to economic development (World Bank,
1988). The cost-sharing recommendations of the Kamunge Report had negative
effects on the education of poor people, especially the rural poor. Communities and
parents were expected to take on more responsibility to pay for the building of
schools and teachers’ houses. Parents also had to meet the costs of books,
uniforms, exercise books, and other fees. Many children stopped going to school
and enrollment figures began to decline significantly. Between 1992 and 1994
enrollments declined (See Table 1), gross enrollment ratios shrank, and quality and
relevance dropped (Abagi & Odipo, 1997; Abagi & Olweya, 1999).
Koech Commission (1999). In 1999, President Moi appointed another education
commission, this time one focused on Totally Integrated Quality Education and
Training (TIQET). This commission was mandated to recommend ways and means
of enabling the education system to facilitate national unity, mutual social
responsibility, accelerated industrial and technological redevelopment, life-long
learning, and adaptation in response to the country’s changing needs in a global
environment (Koech, 1999). Despite the efforts of the various previous
commissions, the implementation of their recommendations had been uneven at
best. The public perceived that the 8-4-4 education system was not delivering as
had been anticipated when it was established. Major complaints included access,
quality, equity, and the system’s relevance to the needs of Kenyans, many of whom
were unemployed even after completing a university education. In undertaking the
challenging task before it, the Koech Commission adopted a comprehensive, multi-
strategy approach to involve as many Kenyans as possible in its work. The Koech
Commission report concluded that, like most other developing countries, Kenya
faced the challenge of providing quality education to all Kenyans against the
backdrop of a growing population and dwindling resources.
The Koech Report (1999) identified several major areas in which education had
fallen short over the years since independence and described the consequences.
Shifting policies kept education from attaining national goals, and the nation’s
EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA: ENHANCING ACCESS AND QUALITY
155
moral fabric was declining, along with quality in the vocational education sector.
Poor coordination of education services among various ministries and too much
centralization of decision-making in formal education services at the MOE
hampered growth and development. The objectives of the 8-4-4 system of
education were laudable but implementation was haphazard and lacking in several
crucial ways, especially the initial failure to consult with crucial stakeholders and
inadequate monitoring to ensure that educational personnel and institutions were
prepared to implement it successfully. This led to poor rendering of the
curriculum’s practical orientation, requirements that most parents could not afford,
lower enrollments, and high rates of dropout. Finally, poor linkages between
educational institutions and industry had contributed to the lack of quality and
relevance, along with a slow rate of employment creation. Some members of the
public thought that all the problems associated with the 8-4-4 system of education
would be solved by merely going back to the old 7-4-2-3 system. The Koech
Commission members believed, however, that the required solutions went beyond
mere structure. They saw a need to re-evaluate the goals and objectives of
education in the Kenyan context. The existing Education Act was outdated because
it neglected crucial areas of education including early childhood care, development
and education, education for those with special needs, and the role of parent
associations. The country needed to focus on providing the resources needed to
build a comprehensive education system that would provide a high quality of
education for all (Koech, 1999).
The Koech Commission proposed a new system of totally integrated quality
education and training (TIQET), replacing previous structures titled according to
the numbers of years of education at each level (Koech, 1999). TIQET, as a
concept, embraced the values and the substance that should characterize an
education system. It should be inclusive, accommodative, and life-long. It should
approach the learning process in an integrated way, and it should contain inter-
sectoral linkages with a logical progression between levels of education focused on
quality of delivery and the outcomes of the education and training process. The
commission recommended a new education act, new laws, and amendments to
other laws related to education. The proposed TIQET system included several
significant changes in the structure and organization of Kenyan education (Koech,
1999):
Access to basic education would be expanded from 8 to 12 years; therefore
every Kenyan child would eventually have the opportunity to attain at least a
secondary education without restrictive selection at the end of primary school
and burdensome cost
Disparities in education (e.g., geographical factors, social issues, and gender)
would potentially be eliminated by the provision of a universal and compulsory
basic education over a planned period of time with special measures to address
the needs of disadvantaged groups, especially those with special learning needs
Opportunities would be expanded at the post-secondary level so that learners
could flexibly pursue further studies
MACRINA C. LELEI AND JOHN C. WEIDMAN
156
A modular or unit learning approach would be introduced in post-secondary
education. This would allow students to accumulate credits and transfer them
from one institution or level to another and would facilitate various points for
re-entry
Opportunities for access to education would be increased through expanded
alternative and continuing education
A manageable curriculum content would be introduced at all levels of education,
one that would not overburden the learner and educators
Kenyans lauded the Koech Report, calling it the most exhaustive and
comprehensive review, one with recommendations that were both pertinent and
timely (Sifuna, 2000). The recommendations were aimed at resuscitating the
education sector by making it more focused, manageable, relevant, and cost-
effective in response to the critical challenges facing the country and its education
system. Though the government rejected the Koech Report (1999), arguing that it
was too costly to implement, Kenyans urged the government to consider its
recommendations. For instance, Sifuna (2000) argued that the government had a
choice: either continue spending more resources in education (40% of recurrent
expenditure, 8% of GDP) and achieving less, or spend more in the short term and
less in the medium and long terms, thereby achieving more for individuals and the
country as a whole.
Although the recommendations made by the education reform commissions
during the Moi regime had led to decidedly mixed results, the Kenyan education
system continued to expand between 1978 and 2002, with enrollments at both
primary and secondary levels more than doubling (Table 1). The number of
primary school teachers also doubled and the number of secondary teachers tripled
during this period. By 2002, girls made up 49.3% of primary and 47.5% of
secondary school students, up from 34.2% and 31.7%, respectively, at
independence (Table 2). Gender parity, however, did not occur at the university
level, with female enrollments increasing from just 27% of all students in 1992 to
37% in 2002 (Table 2). Another continuing problem was the low transition rate
between primary and secondary school, with enrollments in grade 9 (Form 1) of
secondary school just 40% of enrollments in grade 8 (Standard 8) of primary
school (CBS, 2003).
President Mwai Kibaki (2003–present)
In 2003, as the country was still debating the Koech Report, a new administration
came to power. A resounding victory by the National Alliance Rainbow Coalition
(NARC) Party over the Kenya African National Union (KANU) Party made Mwai
Kibaki the new president.
EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA: ENHANCING ACCESS AND QUALITY
157
Table 2. Gender distribution in Kenyan education, 1963, 1992, 2002–2009 (% female)
Year Primary school
students
Secondary
school students
Teacher
trainees
University
students
1963 34.2 31.7 - -
1992 49.3 42.9 45.8 27.0
2002 49.3 47.5 47.8 36.9
2004 48.4 47.0 48.7 36.7
2006 48.9 47.0 48.7 39.1
2007 48.8 45.9 50.1 40.1
2008 49.1 46.0 48.7 40.1
2009 48.9 46.4 50.5 37.9
Sources: For 1963, 1992 data, Weidman (1995, Table 2); for 2002–2009 data,
CBS (2007), NBS (2010).
Free Primary Education (2003–present). As a way of fulfilling its key major pre-
election promise, the new government declared that primary education would be
free to all. This was the third time that such a declaration had been made but only
the second time it was implemented. During the Kenyatta regime, the provision of
free education had lasted only a couple of years and was discontinued without
fanfare after the government realized that it was too expensive. However, primary
school enrollments increased by more than 50% between 1972 and 1974 (Table 1).
During the Moi administration, school fees were not eliminated but the government
did support the construction of new schools and enrollments continued to grow.
As is shown in Table 1, more than a million students enrolled in primary school
after the fees were eliminated in 2003. Unfortunately, however, no proportional
increase occurred in either the number of schools or the number of teachers. In
fact, by 2006 the number of teachers had actually declined, despite enrollment
increases at both the primary and secondary levels, raising serious concerns about
the capacity of the Kenyan school system to maintain a high level of quality.
Between 2002 and 2009 the number of students per trained teacher in primary
schools increased from 34 to 52 (53%); in secondary schools the increase was even
more striking, from 18 to 31 (72%).
In 2005, the first group of students enrolled under Kenya’s universal primary
education plan graduated, only to face a shortage of secondary schools. In 2005,
671,455 students sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE)
examination, up from 587,961 in 2003. By 2007, the number of KCPE candidates
had grown to 704,737 (Kenya School Magazine, 2010, paragraph 11.2).
MACRINA C. LELEI AND JOHN C. WEIDMAN
158
Even though policy makers were aware that the secondary school system would
face pressure to absorb the increased number of primary school leavers, not enough
government funds were available to provide the number of places required.
Consequently, less than half of the primary school graduates could be absorbed
into the secondary school system. While some primary school graduates will be
able to attend private secondary schools, the fees are prohibitive for the majority,
who will be forced to drop out of the school system without completing secondary
education. This crisis has caused a public outcry for free secondary education, as a
secondary diploma is now considered to be the minimum required to gain
employment in the formal sector.
In the years that the Kenyan government has experimented with free education,
the Ministry of Education has consumed a disproportionately large share of the
recurrent budget, thereby placing a strain on the resources available to finance
other government services. Furthermore, free education was often provided at the
expense of quality. For example, when free education was introduced during the
Kenyatta regime, over a third of teachers were untrained (Gachathi, 1976, p. xviii),
and schools were generally poorly staffed and equipped. The 2003 initiative
resulted in huge increases in the student-to-teacher ratios for both primary and
secondary education as well as severe crowding of existing facilities.
Policy makers continue to be concerned that free secondary education will only
increase the logistical problems that free primary education has caused, among
them shortages of qualified teachers, poor physical facilities, lack of teaching and
learning resources, and overcrowding. By law, the government should provide
every secondary school in Kenya with enough qualified teachers and sufficient
physical resources. In reality, however, many schools are given very limited
resources and are understaffed. Consequently, schools may be forced to recruit and
pay for their own, often unqualified, teachers or even to go without resources
completely. They raise funds through harambees (community fundraising events),
and by collecting school fees. This is particularly common in poor and rural areas
where schools are of low quality and public resources are severely limited.
Recently, the government has provided block grants to communities as
development funds that can be used according to local needs. Substantial portions
of these funds have been spent to improve local schools.
KESSP: Kenya Education Sector Support Programme (2005–2010)
In 2003, the Kibaki administration demonstrated its strong commitment to
improving education in Kenya by beginning to develop a comprehensive reform
program, the Kenya Education Sector Support Programme (KESSP). Its underlying
policy framework was laid out in 2005 in a sessional paper (Republic of Kenya,
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology [MoEST], 2004, 2005). The policy
framework focused on expanding access and equity, along with improving the
quality of education across the entire Kenyan education system. It identified its
main targets as improving the management and planning of several crucial areas:
education and training, human resource management, teacher development and
EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA: ENHANCING ACCESS AND QUALITY
159
utilization, information and communication technology, research and development,
finance, and the enabling legal framework (MoEST, 2004).
KESSP lays out a sector-wide plan for educational improvement, with detailed
objectives and new management structures for implementation based on more
decentralized responsibility throughout the education system along with systematic
monitoring and evaluation (MoEST, 2005). It also provides indicative costs,
including the gaps between costs and expected government revenues that
international donors were asked to fill. Initially, donors were quite enthusiastic, but
serious concerns about corruption and mismanagement of funds led the World
Bank and other donors to suspend KESSP support for a short time in 2009.
REFLECTIONS ON EDUCATION REFORM IN KENYA
The national commissions appointed over the past four decades to review the
Kenyan education system illustrate the effort that government and other
stakeholders have exerted in search of policy frameworks and strategies to make
education serve the nation and meet the country’s development needs. Without
dramatic changes in the social, political, and economic environment under which
policy on education is made, implementation will continue to be problematic.
Different regimes have used education as an instrument for meeting or achieving
other political ends. Education policy was often not geared towards meeting any
specific educational objectives. Instead, post-independence policy makers, like
their missionary and colonial counterparts, tended to use education to meet the
aims of the ruling elites.
Despite the efforts by the various commissions to find solutions to Kenya’s
educational problems, the country continues to face major challenges of quality,
equity, and access, leaving many questions unanswered. Perhaps the most
important is this: To what extent does the latest government educational plan
(KESSP: MoEST, 2005) represent a sustainable commitment by government, local
communities, parents, and other stakeholders (including international donors) to
improve access to educational opportunities? Further, how will this commitment
fare in the face of the competing demands included in the current national
development plan, Vision 2030 (Ministry of Planning and National Development
[MPND], 2007)? And what conditionalities will the international donor community
tie to its continued support for education, especially in the aftermath of World
Bank withdrawal of support for KESSP in 2009? Corruption is a key concern that
permeates virtually all aspects of the Kenyan educational system (Transparency
International Kenya, 2010).
Many recommendations made by the commissions were either never
implemented or were implemented with only partial success. Although the
appointed commissions were well intentioned and included Kenya’s most
prominent educational scholars, their work had only limited impact. Successful
implementation of the commissions’ recommendations hinged not only on the
political commitment and will of politicians but also on the availability of funds,
both domestic and from international donors. Despite numerous efforts to make the
MACRINA C. LELEI AND JOHN C. WEIDMAN
160
Kenyan educational system more responsive to both individual and national needs,
it is still plagued with problems that have hindered its effectiveness in propelling
Kenya along the path toward significant growth in economic and social
development. By the 1990s, Kenyan education had stagnated or even deteriorated
to its lowest levels (Abagi & Odipo, 1997; Abagi & Olweya, 1999), a situation that
left many Kenyans wondering about the country’s potential to ever achieve the
objectives of Education for All (EFA).
The initiatives of the past decade, such as KESSP and Vision 2030, however,
have moved education to the forefront of national priorities. Increasing attention is
being paid to improving educational quality, retaining those aspects of the existing
system that have functioned well, while also recognizing that all policies have
consequences, both intended and unintended. The national examination system at
the end of grades 8 and 12 has served to maintain a reasonably high level of quality
in student learning outcomes while simultaneously serving as a gatekeeper for and
limiting transition to subsequent levels of education. Hence, in the service of
maintaining quality, access (and potentially equity) may be sacrificed. It is much
easier to identify areas for improvements that might increase quality than it is to
implement strategies to address them. The challenge of improving education
quality leading to the social and economic benefits so needed in developing
countries is complex. It requires systematic planning, political commitment,
financial resources, and stakeholder involvement at both the national and local
community levels. Kenya has admirably demonstrated the capacity to assess its
educational system and formulate plans for reform that address both individual and
national development needs. The continuing challenge is to find effective and
sustainable avenues for implementing these plans in the future.
REFERENCES
Abagi, O., & Olweya, J. (1999). Achieving universal primary education in Kenya by 2015—where the
reality lies: Challenges and future strategies (DP/017/99). Nairobi: Institute for Policy Analysis and
Research.
Abagi, O. & Odipo, G. (1997). Efficiency of primary education in Kenya: Situational analysis and
implications of educational reform (DP/004/97). Nairobi: Institute for Policy Analysis and Research.
Anderson, J. E. (1973). Organization and financing of self-help education in Kenya. Paris: UNESCO,
International Institute for Educational Planning.
Barkan, J. D. (1994). Divergence and convergence in Kenya and Tanzania: Pressures for reform. In J.
D. Barkan (Ed.), Beyond capitalism versus socialism in Kenya and Tanzania (pp. 1–45). Boulder,
CO: L. Rienner.
Bigstein, A. (1984). Education and income determination in Kenya. Hampshire, England: Gower.
CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics), Office of the Vice President and Ministry of Planning and National
Development (1996). Statistical abstract 1996. Nairobi: Government Printer.
CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics), Ministry of Planning and National Development (2003). Statistical
abstract 2003. Nairobi: Government Printer.
CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics), Ministry of Planning and National Development (2007). Economic
survey 2007. Nairobi: Government Printer.
CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) (2010a). The world factbook: Kenya. https://www.cia.gov/library/
publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ke.html
CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) (2010b). The world factbook: South Korea. https://www.cia.gov/
library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ks.html
EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA: ENHANCING ACCESS AND QUALITY
161
Court, D. (1976). The educational system as a response to inequality in Tanzania and Kenya. Journal of
Modern African Studies, 14, 661–690.
Eshiwani, G. S. (1993). Education in Kenya since independence. Nairobi: East African Educational
Publishers.
Gachathi, P. J. (1976). Report of the National Committee on educational objectives and policies
[Gachathi Report]. Nairobi: Government Printer.
Global Finance (2010). Global economic reports & GDP data: South Korea. Data on GDP and
economic information; country and population overview.
http://www.gfmag.com/gdp-data-country-reports/241-south-korea-gdp-country-
report.html#axzz1cU9165la
Gould, W. T. S. (1993). People and education in the Third World. New York: John Wiley.
Kamunge, J. M. (1988). Report of the Presidential Working Party on education and manpower training
for the next decade and beyond [Kamunge report]. Nairobi: Government Printer.
Kenya School Magazine (2010). Educational data collected by Teachers Service Commission (TSC),
Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC), Joint Admission Board (JAB), and the Ministry of
Education. http://www.kenyaschoolmagazine.com/images/345.htm#_Toc227200372
Koech, D. K. (1999). Totally integrated quality education and training (TIQET): Report of the
Commission of Inquiry into the Education System of Kenya [Koech Report]. Nairobi: Government
Printer.
MoE (Ministry of Education) (1988). Sessional paper no. 6 of 1988 on education and manpower
training for the next decade and beyond [Based on Kamunge Report]. Nairobi: Government Printer.
MoEST (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology) (2004). Sessional paper on a policy
framework for education, training and research: Meeting the challenges of education, training and
research in Kenya in the 21st century. Nairobi: Government Printer.
http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Kenya/Kenya%20Policy%20Framework%20Education%20
Training.pdf
MoEST (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology) (2005). Kenya education sector support
programme 2005–2010 (KESSP). Nairobi: Government Printer. http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/
upload/Kenya/Kenya%20KESSP%20FINAL%202005.pdf
MPND (Ministry of Planning and National Development) (2007). Vision 2030, the popular version.
Nairobi: Government Printer.
http://www.planning.go.ke/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=64&Itemid=69&li
mitstart=10
NBS (National Bureau of Statistics) (2007). Basic report on well-being in Kenya, based on Kenya
Integrated Household Budget Survey, 2005–06. Nairobi: Ministry of Planning and National
Development.
NBS (National Bureau of Statistics) (2009). Statistical abstract 2009. Nairobi: Government Printer.
NBS (National Bureau of Statistics) (2010). Economic survey 2010. Nairobi: Government Printer.
Ominde, S. H. (1964). Kenya Education Commission report [Ominde Report], part 1. Nairobi:
Government Printer.
Ominde, S. H. (1965). Kenya Education Commission report [Ominde Report], part 2. Nairobi:
Government Printer.
Park, N. & Weidman, J. C. (2000). Battlefield for higher education. In J. C. Weidman & N. Park (Eds.),
Higher education in Korea: Tradition and adaptation (pp. 177–196). New York: Falmer Press.
Republic of Kenya (1965). African socialism and its application to planning in Kenya. Nairobi:
Government Printer.
Republic of Kenya (1978). Sessional paper no. 5 of 1978 on educational objectives and policies. [Based
on Gachathi Report]. Nairobi: Government Printer.
Republic of Kenya (1981). Report of the Presidential Working Party on the Second University [Mackay
Report]. Nairobi: Government Printer.
Sheffield, J. R. (1973). Education in Kenya: A historical study. New York: Teachers College Press.
Sifuna, D. (2000). Development of education in Africa: The Kenyan experience. Nairobi: Initiatives
publishers.
Transparency International Kenya (2010). Kenya education sector integrity study report 2010. Nairobi:
Transparency International.
MACRINA C. LELEI AND JOHN C. WEIDMAN
162
http://www.tikenya.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=115&I
temid=146
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) (2007). Human development report 2007/2008.
Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world. Houndmills, Hampshire and New
York: Palgrave Macmillan. http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_20072008_EN_Complete.pdf
Weidman, J. C. (1995). Prospects for the development of higher education in Kenya. In F. Shams (Ed.),
State and society in Africa: Perspectives on continuity and change (pp. 130–143). Lanham, MD:
University Press of America.
World Bank (1988). Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Policies for adjustment, revitalization, and
expansion. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Macrina C. Lelei
University of Pittsburgh
John C. Weidman
University of Pittsburgh
... Sequentially, we endeavour to highlight the different phases of curriculum change advancements, challenges, opportunities and lessons for posterity. Given the on-going rapid development of internationalization alongside technological evolvements in the twenty-first century, the findings denote the nature of Kenya curriculum reforms and transitions, which even though seems to be local, it is decidedly international affirming that the transformative role of education in internationalization is not only political, social and intellectual but also historical and cultural (Anderson, 1965;Johnson, 2001;Leal Filho et al., 2018;Lelei & Weidman, 2012;Tikly, 2019). ...
... Kenya has a long, rich and progressive history of education and training which is traceable back to the period before the arrival of missionaries in 1884 where parents and siblings imparted all education through traditional African education framework (Lelei & Weidman, 2012;Wycliffe et al., 2013). The traditional African education was integrated with social, cultural, artistic, religious and recreational life. ...
... By the nineteenth century, Christian missionaries introduced western education in Kenya when the first mission school was established in 1846 at Rabai near the coastal city of Mombasa (Bogonko, 1992;Lelei & Weidman, 2012;Wycliffe et al., 2013). In tandem with their primary agenda, early missionary education in the country was linked to the conversion of Africans to Christianity. ...
Article
Curriculum is a foundation of educational reforms and framework that is aimed at achieving high-quality learning outcomes through a conscious and systematic selection of knowledge, skills and values. The scoping review seeks to examine the nature of education curriculum reforms and transitions in Kenya—an account and progress to the contemporary competency-based education policy. Informed by factors that influenced change at various phases such as missionaries’ entry, colonization, social and economic development aspirations, it is evident, government policy planners and partners have been alive to the fact that an adaptive and responsive education curriculum is core for the national capacity to empower its citizens with the essential knowledge, skills and values to attain social and economic development. Even though the nature of Kenya education curriculum reforms and transitions seem to be local, it is decidedly international affirming that the transformative role of education in internationalization is not only political, social and intellectual but also historical and cultural. The transitional factors also point to globalization influence to destabilize internal processes of school organizations motivating education stakeholders to innovative fundamental curriculum evolvement and change strategies alongside policy framework as witnessed in the curriculum changes in Kenya.
... Gradually, the state increased tax revenue and assumed various management functions of schools (Ogutu 2012;Ouda and Ndung'u 2016). The new democratically elected government was assertive, introducing free primary education and devoting an increasing percentage of the national budget to education (Lelei and Weidman 2012). ...
... With the approval of Kenya's new Constitution in 2010 and the Basic Education Act of 2013, the state again increased its effective authority over schools, including those sponsored by religious organizations (Lelei and Weidman 2012;Onderi and Makori 2013;Ouda and Ndung'u 2016). The new Constitution established counties in Kenya (replacing provinces and districts) and the Basic Education Act of 2013 gave each new County Education Board the right to name the Chairs of schools' governing boards and the Teachers Service Commission the authority to assign head teachers, though both in consultation with sponsors (Ouda and Ndung'u 2016). ...
Article
One prominent issue in developing education systems globally has been the relation between state and non-state actors. In this country case study, we explore how social, economic, and political changes in Kenya are impacting the mission, focus, and operations of faith-based—and specifically Catholic—schools. Drawing primarily from four focus group discussions with head teachers from 36 government-aided, Catholic-sponsored primary schools, we explore the question: How is the Kenyan state’s growing capacity to regulate education impacting Catholic-sponsored schools in pursuing their distinctive mission(s)? We find many head teachers have concerns that increasing state control may decrease autonomy in ways that threaten the integrity of the schools’ faith-based mission.
... The Kenyan system of education has greatly changed since independence. The changes were mainly driven by the need for an education that is responsive to the needs of citizens and the country development agenda (Ominde, 1964) as well as expand access to education (Lelei & Weidman, 2012). Immediately after independence, Kenya adopted the East African System of education which comprised of 7 years in primary school, 4 years in secondary school (O-level), 2 years in high school (A level) and a minimum of 3 years in university (Wanjohi, 2011). ...
... The Mackay report is the one that recommended the removal of the two "A" level education years Therefore, the Mackey report set foot for the Commission of Higher Education which recommended replacement with the 8-4-4 system of education in 1985, which has been in operation to date. The 8-4-4 system broadened the curriculum in pursuit of making the system more relevant to the needs of learners and country at large and integrated pre-vocational and technical education (Lelei & Weidman, 2012). From 1985, other commissions recommended the reduction of the number of subjects taught at both primary and secondary level and rationalization of the curriculum as well as cost-sharing. ...
Article
Full-text available
A well-established empirical association exists between family background and children’s educational attainment. Studies have shown the importance of parental education for not just children’s educational outcomes but also other behavioral, and health outcomes. In this paper, data collected by African Population and Health Research Center in 2012 across Nairobi’s slums are fitted to a logistic regression to estimate the likelihood of secondary school completion. Even after controlling for influential covariates such as socioeconomic status; parental survivorship; slum area of residence and duration of stay; marital status; and substance abuse the effect of parental education on secondary school completion persists. Among female adolescents compared to male adolescents, parental presence, drug abuse, and migration into the slum compared to birth in the slum were associated with lower school completion. Overall, the study confirms the importance of parental education for adolescent secondary school completion but extends its effects beyond that reported in the literature on SSA, which is that mother’s and father’s education affect the acquisition of literacy and numeracy, math achievement, age for grade, and cognitive development. © 2017 The Author(s). This open access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 license.
... Lack of access to markets is a problem for many small-scale enterprises in Kenya. The rural population is poorly organized, often isolated and vulnerable, beyond the reach of social safety nets and poverty programs (Lelei & Weidman, 2012). Kenya is classified as a low-income country, with a 2012 per capita GDP in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of $1,800 that ranks 196 of 239 countries included in the comparison. ...
... Poverty, though still high, has been declining much more dramatically in urban than rural areas, from 49.7% to 33. 7%, in 2005(Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 2007a. The current poverty problems of Kenya have been intensifying because of poor governance, corruption and mismanagement of public resources as well as growing youth unemployment, a common set of issues across many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Lelei & Weidman, 2012). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter examines the evolution of Kenyan government education policies from independence in 1963 to the present, with a specific emphasis on initiatives contributing to the attainment of universal primary education (UPE). These policies were reflected in several attempts to provide Free Primary Education (FPE), initially abolishing school fees for grades 1 through 4 and later extending through grade 8. Brief descriptions of the education reforms in Kenya that underlie current policies are presented, including internal effectiveness; enrollment expansion and improved student performance; and efficiency and relevance, reflecting concerns about student flow through the system and accountability to stakeholders. The chapter also addresses impacts of international conventions such as Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on policy directions. The discussion shows how initial enthusiasm and huge enrollment gains gave way to frustration as policymakers failed to improve capacity, both physical and human resource, to absorb the enrollment expansion. The chapter uses a policy analytic approach, drawing primarily from official government documents and data on the Kenyan education system. It concludes with a summary of key issues as well as suggestions for future education reform initiatives.
... For them, education would provide long-denied opportunities, reaffirm national identity, and increase the capacity of the economy to cater to the needs of the newly independent State. Each country approached the task with its own political philosophy: Tanzania and Uganda were described as having socialist leanings, while Kenya was described as being more capitalist in orientation (Lelei & Weidman, 2012;Mtonga, 1993;Oketch & Rolleston, 2007;Wiegratz, 2019). Provision increased first, followed by a wave of fee abolitions in the 1960s and 1970s. ...
... The reason for the recommendation was that ranking was based on high stakes testing ignoring the other important factors of schooling such as co-curricular activities, student's entry behavior and social-economic background of learners (Wanzala, 2014). One of the recommendations of the report which was not implemented was the abolishing of the performance ranking of students and schools (Lelei and Weidman, 2012). ...
... Studies by Genvieve (2017), Anyiendah (2017), Nyerere (1967), Kafu (2013), Lelei and Weidman (2012) and (Ominde, 1964) all these authorities demonstrate the need for and the importance of pedagogy in advancing development in the society. To them, all these developments are facilitated by teachers who are well placed to play these critical roles of creativity and innovativeness in the society. ...
... The crisis of deteriorating morality and ethics must be confronted through education. At the same time, morality and education are equal tools in developing human qualities (Janbanjong, 1998). Therefore, education management in higher education institutions is the vital heart of development in order to create impartial access to resources, build awareness of democratic values and good governance, and encourage ethics and morals in learners, the youth and all groups of Thai people. ...
Article
This research aimed to study the level of learning responsibility of first-year students at Suratthani Rajabhat University and to compare learning responsibilities of first-year students at Suratthani Rajabhat University. The students were separated by gender, age, religion, faculty and academic discipline. The research samples were first-year students in the first semester of the 2011 academic year at Suratthani Rajabhat University, who were selected by using a Krejcie & Morgan Table with not more than 5% error. A total of 354 samples were randomly selected with Proportional Stratified Random Sampling method from three academic disciplines. These disciplines were humanities and social sciences, science and technology and the group of health sciences. A two-part questionnaire was used to collect data, which was analyzed by frequency, percentage, mean and standard deviation. Hypotheses testing and validation was conducted by t-test, F-test, One Way ANOVA and Scheffe's test. The research results found that level of learning responsibility of first-year students at Suratthani Rajabhat University was generally at a high. The students placed importance on understanding new knowledge by using past experiences. Sensibility and ability to work with others effectively was given least importance but remained at a high level. The comparison of learning responsibilities of first-year students at Suratthani Rajabhat University found that gender, age, religion, faculty and academic discipline caused differences in students' views on learning responsibility by a significance level of.05.
Chapter
This chapter discusses parenting practices and students’ academic achievement in light of Kenya’s current education system. An attempt is made to trace the evolution of the Kenyan education system through the years from the informal traditional education to the current 8-4-4 system. The transformation of the traditional education system and parenting practices by the advent of colonialism and the implications of strategies adopted by successive post-independence governments to address existing challenges to the education sector are also discussed. For example, by increasing access to education, the number of students enrolled in both primary and secondary schools has dramatically increased. This increase has brought with it challenges of quality and the need for parents to participate in financing of their children’s education. The result has been drop-out and low transition rates from primary to secondary schools. The partial financing of education in Kenya by parents has affected low-income families more than it has affected middle- and high-income families. Parents now work harder, and spend more time and family income on education at the expense of other pressing family needs. The competitive nature of the Kenyan education system has also increased the need for boarding schools, which have now become a significant experience for many children attending school. Most parents prefer these schools because of perceived higher quality of education and infrastructure. This minimizes the available time parents spend with their children because the length of the school year in total is about nine months. However, boarding schools perform better than day schools. More research is needed to determine the underlying factors responsible for the reported higher academic achievements of students in boarding schools.
Chapter
Full-text available
It is important that any consideration of prospects for the development of higher education in Kenya be understood within the more general context of the East African region. Consequently, in the first part of this discussion I describe the economic and social development context of East Africa. Then, I draw on the more general context of the African continent, summarizing several major issues that have been identified by various experts as being of contemporary significance for the continued growth and development of African higher education. This leads to a discussion of five major themes that I believe are particularly important for Kenya, followed by some concluding suggestions for the future development of its university system.
Chapter
Full-text available
Almost half of the total population of eighteen year-olds in Korea in 1992 entered higher education. Despite the rapid growth of higher education enrollments (215 times larger in 1992 than it had been in 1945 when Korea gained independence from the Japanese), Koreans seem still to be engaged in a battle over education. In 1992, the university entrance examination sheets were stolen on the eve of the examination, an event considered to be one of the biggest disasters since the Korean War (1950-53). A year later, however, an even bigger scandal erupted when it was revealed that 102 students were admitted to four prestigious universities through various illegal means. A host of people connected to the illegal admissions procedures (including admissions brokers, presidents and officers of universities, high school principals, teachers, parents, and students) were indicted. This scandal was the top story for a month in every newspaper and media broadcast. Because of the public outcry, the government was forced to admit that admissions irregularities had occurred in other years as well. We view the extreme demand for higher education in Korea and the accompanying social and psychological pressure on young people and their families as being analogous to a war for education.
Article
This article examines the attempt of Kenya and Tanzania to deal with the universal problem of how to reconcile inequalities in the distribution of rewards with a concern for equality. It argues that in both countries the mainspring of educational policy is a desire to alleviate the potentially disruptive consequences of inequality, although for different purposes and by different means. The broad purpose of the article is to compare contrasting educational practice in Kenya and Tanzania from this perspective as a way of illuminating two distinctive modes of development. More specifically, it attempts to identify some of the contradictions and dilemmas inherent in their particular use of education. Finally, it uses this analysis to make a speculative assessment of how each is faring in the task of building a relatively integrated polity.
Article
Mission report on educational financing of pre-primary education, primary education and secondary education in Kenya, with special reference to self-help through parent participation and community action, extending also to school building and equipment - Presents a case study of an unaided primary school; briefly describes the educational system and provides educational statistics in particular on school enrolment