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Challenges of Education in Kenya

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School Children in Kibera Slums School Children in Kibera Slums

The challenges facing the Kenyan education system are great and it will take a while to meet the goals of Kenya Vision 2030 as defined when it comes to education matters. The ultimate success of Kenya’s education system will be measured by its ability to give equal access to all candidates and provide qualified skills into the labour market to drive the economy. Equity across the school system will only be achieved when schools are fully staffed, where learning resources are available and when the numbers of students in a class are reduced to a manageable size.

According to Former Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Professor James ole Kiyiapi, he said that, “Education is the greatest social equalizer. If we leave it to the private sector, we will create a social apartheid, where only the rich can access it — and it is already happening. Our education system is fundamentally flawed. We are condemning our children too early in life. The reason why KCPE is so brutal is that we don’t have enough spaces in secondary school.”

Kenya struggles to improve an underfunded school system with school reforms that promise changes in overall structure and curriculum design.  The increasing cost of education is pushing the global goal of "Education For All" (EFA) beyond the reach of more and more children from poor families, leading to a steady increase in the number of dropouts.  Most of the problems affecting the education sector stem from the general increase in poverty levels and inequalities in the country, which have affected the general social and economic aspects of the country.

Although the enrolment trends have been high in recent years, completion rates have consistently been below the half mark, due to high dropout rates.  Education ministry figures indicate that the national gross enrolment rate (GER) at primary school level stood at 88.8 percent in 1998, but only an equivalent of 47.2 percent of these children were able to complete this stage.

And although more educational opportunities have been created in the last decade, about 11 percent of eligible school age children (aged 6-13) are still out of school, particularly in the poorly-resourced arid and semi-arid regions of the country.

The pupil-teacher ratio is also a challenge remaining at an all time high meaning that one teacher has to serve many pupils. This leads to low quality services thereby denying the pupils opportunity to proceed in their education.   Another challenge is that the government through the ministry of education does not allocate enough funds in the National Budget. This means that the services provided are not quality since teachers have to engage in other activities for their upkeep.  Due to low pay, this has also resulted in many strikes by teachers from time to time thereby hindering the flow of education.

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