Kenya: Putting education at the center of development
March 20, 2019 by GPE Secretariat |
4 minutes read

Since 2005, the Global Partnership for Education has supported Kenya’s impressive progress toward getting all children into school and learning. That progress, in turn, has advanced the country’s overall economic and social development.

Between 2005 and 2008, GPE supported Kenya’s efforts to plan and implement measures that increased primary school enrollment from 72 percent in 2003, when Kenya made primary education free, to 88 percent in 2012. Over that period, the gap between girls and boys reached near parity. Education at the center of Kenya’s development strategy Under Vision 2030, Kenya’s strategy for 2008–2030, education is key to transform the country into an industrialized,
middle-income economy. Since 2008, spending on education has been around the GPE-advised target of at least 20 percent of the national budget.

In 2014, Kenya reached lower-middle income status. Despite remarkable progress in education and economic development, children from Kenya’s remote regions and disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to go to or complete primary school than others. Kenya’s capacity to maintain and improve the quality of education has also not kept up with the growing numbers of children going to school, contributing to low student performance in early grade mathematics and reading.

GPE’s ongoing support to Kenya’s long-term education planning process also engages international donors and domestic stakeholders. As a result, Kenya’s education sector plan is broadly owned, and interventions are more successful.

GPE partner: Since 2005
Challenges addressed: Education access for children from remote regions and disadvantaged groups; low early grade performance; barriers to girls going to school
Key interventions: Technologies to improve planning and accountability; expanded teacher recruitment and training; school grants to encourage girls’ education
Current grant: US$88.4 million (2015-2019)
Previous grant: US$121 million
Grant agent: World Bank
Coordinating agency: Canada High Commission

The following are some of Kenya’s education priorities supported by GPE that are making a difference:

  • Innovative technologies that improve planning and accountability: GPE is supporting Kenya’s efforts to adopt new technologies to strengthen the collection of data for its education planning and decision making. The teacher performance appraisal development (TPAD) tool helps education officials to upload the appraisals of every teacher in the country. Teachers do the same with their self-appraisals. The Ministry of Education can analyze this information, identify performance gaps and take appropriate action.

Thanks to the TPAD, the next generation of Kenyans will be very different from those who came before. If you ask me, it is the best thing that ever happened to Kenya.

Caroline Mwakisha, Teacher Service Commission, County Director for Mombasa County.

The national education management information system (NEMIS) is another technology tool that is improving planning and accountability by providing valuable data for the government to analyze student’s learning successes and challenges. NEMIS assigns every school and every student in the country a unique identifying number so that the ministry can track students and their performance as they move through the education system. The government is also using NEMIS to provide health insurance for students in secondary school, and this is making an important contribution to advancing Kenya’s human development.

  • High-quality textbooks for more children: The Ministry of Education used the GPE funding to procure and distribute 7.6 million math textbooks as part of a government initiative to strengthen numeracy in early grades. The new textbooks were procured at one-fifth the cost of old textbooks because of an improved centralized procurement system developed under the GPE program. This enabled the government to ensure that all Kenyan children in grades 1, 2 and 3 have a math textbook. Before, three or more children typically shared one textbook.
Students in second grade classroom.  Nyamachaki Primary School, Nyeri County, Kenya. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Students in second grade classroom. Nyamachaki Primary School, Nyeri County, Kenya.
GPE/Kelley Lynch
  • More qualified math teachers: GPE support has helped to train 117,000 teachers and provide them with early grade math teaching guides. To ensure these guides are used correctly, curriculum support officers observed nearly 20,000 classroom lessons and helped teachers to follow consistent, high-quality lesson plans. The data collected from these observations will be used to inform improvements in teacher training and textbooks. Both interventions are vital for improving learning outcomes.
Teachers post exam results. Nyeri County, Kenya. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Teachers post exam results. Nyeri County, Kenya.
GPE/Kelley Lynch
  • Grants to schools for planning, teaching and girls: GPE funding supports small grants to 4,000 low-performing public primary schools and gives them autonomy to use these grants to help meet needs that are specific to their communities. In many cases, these grants have gone to reducing barriers keeping girls out of school; for example, by waiving school fees, building toilets for girls, hiring female teachers, and programs to counter sexual harassment and violence against girls.

Overall Kenya is making progress in providing a quality education for all children—and significantly so in gender equality. The enrollment in primary school reached 91 percent in 2016, with full gender parity.

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Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya

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This article does not mention if there is any GPE support to special education in Kenya. Does all these improvements reach the special schools and units?
The mentioned text books on mathematics does not benefit special needs children. They must be given materials that are adjusted to their special needs.
With the new school reform that is currently being rolled out in Kenya, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ASC) is now in the curriculum for special education in Kenya. For teachers to be able to teach this method for children without speech, laminated boards must be used. So all schools must have these materials to be able to improve communication skills for children without speech.
Does GPE support this?
According to a presidential decree, tablets are to be given to all schools in Kenya. However, for some peculiar reason, this does not apply to special schools. Tables installed with proper applications is a terrific tool in special education.
So, please do not forget special education.

In reply to by Ole Holst

Thank you for your comment. The Kenya Primary Education Development Project (PRIEDE), supported by a GPE grant, includes several activities that support inclusive education. It has produced braille textbooks for learners with vision challenges. The program is procuring hearing aids and prescription eyeglasses for children with such needs. The teacher training developed under the program has modules on teaching children with several minor disabilities who can attend regular schools.

Indeed this is good work. But it would be great if GPE also included textbooks written in local/indigenous languages for Early Grade Learners. Research has shown that learners who are taken through early childhood education using language of the catchment area have a better understanding and grasp of concepts than those who don't.

In addition, GPE should consider supplementary reading materials in English, Kiswahili and local/indigenous languages. These should boost what the textbooks offer.

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