The recently launched government task force report on education proposes to change Kenya’s system of education from 8.4.4 to 188.8.131.52.3. If this is adopted, children will spend two years in pre-primary school, six years in primary school, three years in lower secondary school and another three years in upper secondary school. It also means that they will have to spend a minimum of three years at University.
Kenya has already changed its system of education twice. The first system, 7.6.4 was adopted in 1963 and later abolished in 1985 to make room for 8.4.4 system of education. These changes however have not succeeded in enhancing the quality of education to expected levels. Our children still face many challenges at school most of which have nothing to do with the system of education.
Uwezo Kenya has been conducting national educational assessments since 2009. These assessments constitute the largest study in Kenya’s education sector for children between 6 and 16 years old. In its most recent findings contained in the 2011 Annual Learning Assessment Report, it is clear that Kenya’s school learning levels are low across board. Nationally, 4 out of 10 children miss school daily and 7 out of 10 children in class 3 cannot do class 2 work.
The report also indicates that on average, every primary school has a shortage of 4 teachers while on a single day, 13 out of 100 teachers miss school. The prevailing acute shortage of teachers at schools affects learning. It may also shock you to know that 9 out of 100 children in class 8 cannot solve class 2 mathematical problems involving division.
The study found out that many children are not learning because they are unable to see the blackboard. 3 out of 100 children in a classroom today have unidentified eyesight problems and their learning standards are 27 percent lower than those of children with good eyesight.
These findings are without any doubt a reality staring at our faces and begging the question; are our children learning?
Changing the system of education is off course necessary but it’s not enough. It’s not about the number of years children will spend at each level of education. It’s not even about the kind of examinations they will do. It’s about the seriousness with which our country will generally handle education matters.
Schools will need to be well managed by their head teachers, well attended by both pupils and teachers, well supported by their government as well as parents. They will need to be provided with enough resources to run successfully and produce students capable of thinking critically. The government will have to train and employ more teachers and parents will need motivation to be more involved with their children’s education.
A shift from the reliance on examinations to the kind of education that will inspire basic foundation competencies with critical thinking skills and advances in science and technology will help bring the Kenyan education system in line with globally competitive standards. If adopted, the task force report will be the first step towards achieving this.
It is our duty as Kenyan citizens to push for specific reforms in our education sector that will ensure tomorrow’s generations are provided with a first class education at all levels. We cannot expect to achieve anything much with the current system of education where our children do not have equal chances of learning. We ought to remember that education is a key pillar towards achieving Vision 2030.