Kenya is keen to achieve universal access to education as prescribed by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and Education for All initiatives. This aim is based on the understanding education is key to the success of the Government’s development strategy. Sessional Paper No.1 of 2005 on Policy Framework for Education, Training and Research spells out the education policy. Educational policy has evolved over the years through the recommendations of commissions and task forces.
The first commission after independence, the Kenya Education Commission (Ominde Report, 1964), sought to reform the education system inherited from the colonial government to meet the needs of independent Kenya. The 1976 Report on the National Committee on Educational Objectives and Policies (Gachathi Report,) focused on redefining policies and objectives, giving special attention to national unity and economic, social and cultural aspirations. It resulted in government support for harambee schools and establishment of the National Centre for Early Childhood Education at the Kenya Institute of Education.
The 1982 Report of the Presidential Working Party on the Second University (Mackay Report) led to the establishment of Moi University and expansion of post-secondary training colleges. It also recommended the establishment of the 8-4-4 and the Commission for Higher Education. However, the Report of the Presidential Working Party on Education and Manpower Training for the Next Decade and beyond (Kamunge Report, 1988) focused on financing, quality and relevance of education. From the Kamunge Report, the Government produced Sessional Paper No. 6 on Education and Training for the Next Decade and Beyond. This led to cost-sharing between Government, parents and local communities.
In 2003, the Government organised the National Conference on Education and Training that brought together 800 participants. The conference developed a new policy framework for education. Sessional Paper No.1 of 2005 on Policy Framework for Education, Training and research constitutes the Government policy on education and training and is based on the recommendations of the conference.
Prof Odhiambo task force
In 2011, the Ministry for Education established the Task Force on the Realignment of Education to the new Constitution and Vision 2030. The reference point was to analyse the implication of the new Constitution on education, training and research in relation to:
- Relevance and responsiveness of education curriculum to Vision 2030
- Access, equity, quality and transitional rates
- Structure of education system from kindergarten to university, including tertiary education institutions, research institutions, special needs education, adult education, village polytechnics, home-craft centres and childcare facilities
- Investment in education, both public and private, institutional management of governance, and human capacity in education at all levels
- The place of information communication technology and other technologies
- Niche markets with reference to national, regional and international dynamics; and
- Establish processes of academic mentorship.
To achieve those goals, the Task force was asked to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the entire education sector by reviewing education commission reports, policy papers, and legal documents. It was also to study and review education practices from countries with national and county governments. The Task force was also asked to establish gaps in curriculum delivery process including relevance and responsiveness of the education curriculum to Vision 2030.
The Task Force was chaired by an eminent scholar, Prof Douglas Odhiambo, deputised by Dr Peter Keiyoro. The members were Samuel Sawa Maneno, Joel Kumoi ole Leshao, Wangari Mwai, Bernard Murumbi Sihanya, Philip Ochieng, Cleophas Tirop, Terry Childs, Abdalah Mohammed, Maurice Crawley, Joseph Karuga, Jane Nyaboke Akama, Njoki Ndung’u, Maureen Onyango, Samuel Njoroge, Jannifer Kimani and Dr Grace Cheserek. Ex-officio members included Prof James Ole Kiyiapi (former Education Permanent Secretary), Prof George Godia (Education Secretary), Prof Harry Kaane (Higher Education Science and Technology Secretary), Paul Wasanga (Secretary/Chief Executive Kenya National Examinations Council), Gabriel Lengoiboni (Secretary/ Chief Executive, Teachers Service Commission), Lydia Nzomo (Director, Kenya Institute of Education), Nathan Baraza, John Kabui Mwai, John Kennedy Obara (Kenya National Union of Teachers), Nancy Karimi, Moses Nthurima (Kenya Union of Post- Primary Education Teachers), Musau Ndunda (Kenya National Association of Parents), Rebecca Tonkei, Njeri Mwangi Wachira and Wilson Dima Dima. The Joint Secretaries were Judy Okungu, Isaac Kamande and Kimathi M’Nkanata
The committee launched their report on February 3, 2012, in which a key recommendation is that the present 8-4-4 system of education be replaced with a 2-6-3-3-3 system from September 2013. If implemented, pupils currently in Standard 5 will be the first to sit exam under the new system in 2014, the Kenya Primary Education Certificate (KPEC), and join junior secondary in 2015 for three years. They will proceed to senior secondary in 2018 for another three years and university in 2018 for a further three years. The changes will also see the school calendar run from September to July, to conform with the financial year that runs from July 1 to June 30, and align school term dates to those of universities, which have traditionally admitted new students in September and closed for long holidays between May and August.
The Government will provide free learning in public institutions from early childhood to senior secondary school level, collectively to be considered basic education. The new system could see transition rates improve drastically if the proposal to establish junior secondary schools within the existing primary schools is implemented. This will require Kshs360 billion ($4.2 billion) in the 2012/13 financial year for infrastructure, buying new textbooks and employing new teachers. The Government will require Kshs1.4 trillion ($16.5 billion)between 2012-2015 to implement the new education system.
Education Bill 2012
The Education Bill 2012 seeks to align education to Vision 2030 and the Constitution, especially the right to education for all Kenyans, the children’s right to free and compulsory education, and the devolved structures of governance. The Bill also makes proposals on financing of education and seeks to repeal the Education Act, Cap 211; and the Board of Adult Education Act, Cap 223.
National Education Board
If passed into law, it provides for the establishment of a seven-member National Education Board to advise the Cabinet Secretary, the department of education and related departments on promoting the standards in basic education and training. The board will also ensure that all the barriers to the right to quality education are removed and that the national and county governments facilitate the realisation of the right to education by all Kenyans. It will provide guidelines on the establishment of basic education institutions and ensure all children attend and remain in school to complete basic education requirements. The Bill seeks to ensure pupils are given appropriate incentives to learn and complete basic education, bans the practice of pupils repeating classes and disallows expulsions. Any person who employs or prevents a child from attending school shall be committing an offence punishable by a five-year jail term, a Kshs5 million ($58,824) fine or both. The Bill also seeks to establish an Education Appeals Tribunal.