Is education knowledge in basic skills, academics, technical, discipline, citizenship, or is it something else? In its focus on good academic performance and putting on notice teachers whose schools are not performing well or whose subjects are not well performed, the Kenyan education system seems to say only academic basics are important and that is based on collecting knowledge without understanding its value. How about the processing of knowledge, using inspiration, visionary ambitions, creativity, risk, ability to bounce back from failure, motivation? Most educational institutions focusing on academic performance do not consider these skills; these skills are associated with understanding the value of knowledge (Mwaka et al, 2010).
Memorization and regurgitation hence become distinctive features of Kenya’s exam-centric education as it demands little creativity of our children and teachers. In a majority of schools, teachers do not focus on teaching and learning, but on jerking up the school mean grade and national ranking.
The schooling process in Kenya therefore seems to be failing in its role of offering education to young people for adequate living in the society. It also fails in its provision of moral and social values leading to a situation of non-education. Bennars (1990) describes the phenomenon of non-education as all forms of association between adults and children which cannot be termed education. It implies the erosion of childhood resulting in the neglect of traditional modes of value inculcation and the actual marginalization of the youth.
This can be defined as unequal opportunities; that a person’s life achievements should be determined primarily by his or her talents and efforts, rather than by pre-determined circumstances such as race, gender, social or family background. In Kenya, children’s background and environment are also determinants of their performance. Children born into poverty are half as likely to graduate from high school as their peers in other communities. Even for those who graduate they graduate with less than par level of skills. This inequity of opportunity limits the future of individual students, communities, and our nation as a whole; and in addition to educational crisis we are also faced with identity crisis to tackle.
The Statistical Crisis
In Kenya, primary education is free but more than one million children are out of school and those in school are not learning. A survey of primary school teachers revealed that some teachers scored 17 per cent in a math test based on the syllabus they teach. For the massive outlay of public resources, 6.7 per cent of GNP, our education accomplishes too little for our children and society.
A survey of primary schools pupils revealed that two out of three pupils in standard three failed a standard two, literacy and numeracy test. Among standard three pupils, only 28 per cent from the poorest households had achieved expected numeracy and literacy, compared to 48 per cent in the richest households
Hence, education is exacerbating rather than ameliorating social inequality in Kenya. Moreover, transition rates are depressing. In 2012, the gross enrollment ratio in secondary school was 48 per cent, woefully low compared to 115 per cent in primary school.
Summarily, education and training can therefore reduce social and economic disparities. Today, Kenya is characterized by large inequalities with respect to income distribution and this has constrained economic growth. Investment in education and training will be an important strategy to address such differences, which in turn, result in faster economic growth. The involvement in education and training is justified on the basis that human capital investments have large social returns. For the above reasons, the Kenyan Government has, over the years, demonstrated its commitment to the development of education and training through sustained allocation of resources to the sector. However, despite the substantial allocation of resources and notable achievements attained, the sector still faces major challenges related to access, equity, quality, relevance, efficiency in the management of educational resources, cost and financing of education, gender and regional disparities, and teacher quality and teacher utilization.
What it Will Take?
Educational leadership enhances learners’ outcomes through creation of an environment where learning permeates the organizational culture. This means that an educational leader is able to promote a shared vision, mobilize people, lead curriculum and pedagogical practice, administrate effectively, and reflect critically on all practice
Our mission is to revolutionize educational reform, by committing dedicated young graduates to a two-year teaching strategy so as to ensure that all children have an opportunity to receive excellent education. Possible?? I believe it is, if we all decide to become our children’s advocates.
BUILDING THE MOVEMENT
Filling high-need classrooms with passionate, high-achieving individuals who will do whatever it takes to help their students succeed is a critical piece of our approach—but it’s not enough to reach educational equity. Success relies on the work the ‘Teach for Kenya’ members do as alumni after their two-year commitment, from within the field of education and other sectors, to continue to expand opportunities for all students.
They say to learn is to teach, and by teaching we become part of something bigger than our own selves.