Right to education is anchored in the Constitution and Vision 2030 and in this regard, the government is committed to expanding access and equity in a bid to achieve quality basic education for all. The aggressive implementation of Free Primary Education (FPE) since 2003 has achieved a lot of progress in reducing inherent educational disparities in the country.
Consequently, the number of primary schools grew by 5.1 per cent from 28,026 in 2013 to 29,460 in 2014. Higher growth was registered in the number of private primary schools which grew by 13.5 per cent compared to 2.4 per cent growth in the number of public primary schools.
The total enrolment in primary education rose marginally from 9.9 million in 2013 to 10 million in 2014. Of those 8.6 million were enrolled in public primary schools. Enrolment in Standard One increased from 1,369,600 to 1,372,300 in 2014.
Interestingly, enrolment of girls in Standard One rose by 0.6 per cent compared to that of boys which declined by 0.2 per cent. It was also quite significant in that retention rate from Standard 1-5 1 for girls was 96.7 per cent compared to that of boys at 89.9 per cent.
Nevertheless, the Gross Enrolment Rate declined marginally from 105 per cent in 2013 to 103.5 per cent in 2014 while the Net Enrolment Rate (NER) marginally increased to 88.2 per cent in 2014. Net Enrolment Rate is the enrolment of the official age-group for a given level of education expressed as a percentage of the corresponding population.
The emerging scenario is that the high GER could be attributed to enrolment of over-age and under-age pupils in primary schools, while NER remained stable, suggesting that majority of primary school going age population are attending school.
Primary school teachers
The total number of teachers in public primary schools increased from 199,686 in 2013 to 200,697 in 2014. The slight increase could be attributed to replacement of teachers who exited from the service due to natural attrition. Even then, the number of diploma teachers grew by 6.0 per cent from 34,048 in 2013 to 36,086 in 2014.
The increase was due to the upgrading of teachers who had completed diploma courses. P1 teachers declined from 96,206 in 2013 to 95,435 in 2014.
The public primary school Pupil- Teacher Ratio worsened from 41:1 in 2013 to 43:1 in 2014.
The recorded steady Net Enrolment Rate which means a large number of school going age children are in school, this aspect has started worsening pupil-teacher ratio which calls for employment of more teachers.
Besides, although a lot of investments have been made towards expanding the existing physical facilities, many primary schools still require renovations and additional classrooms to be able to cope with the increased enrolments. Overcrowding has become a prominent feature in most public schools leading to pressure on the available facilities.
Despite the introduction and success of FPE, a significant number of children are still in the Non-Formal Education sector, especially those with special needs. Many orphans and other children in difficult circumstances and those in ASAL areas cannot access quality education.
The crux of the matter is that the school feeding, health and nutrition programmes which target children in ASAL, other rural pockets of poverty and urban slums are still limited in scope. The situation has been worsened by the prolonged drought which has affected households across the country and made those programmes to be extended too many other areas in the country.
There are very strong indicators that regional and gender disparities at primary level of education are still a challenge. Studies conducted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology indicate existence of large regional disparities in the North Eastern, Upper Eastern and Upper Rift. Many counties at the Coast region have also recorded low GER and NER.