Individuals in society, as they grow in their respective environments, in an endeavor to fulfill their needs, encounter many challenges: environmental, social, economic, political and cultural. In everyday life therefore, they have to participate voluntarily or otherwise to overcome them, otherwise they are bound to remain in the same state or dwindle even further. As such, there is need for individuals to participate actively in the development of their communities, their nations and the world as a whole with a special reference to social, economic and political awareness.
Kenyans are not facing any different situations. For example, in the education sector, progress towards attaining universal primary education, which was initiated by the incumbent government in 2003, has had the effect of increasing the enrolment by two million children. Recent enrolment gains have benefited the girls, resulting in near gender parity. Despite these gains, regional inequalities are pronounced, particularly in the enrolment of girls in the arid and semi-arid regions (Child, 2006).
This initiative has had positive impact whereby the economic ability of the parents is not an excuse for failure to access basic education for their children. As the government endeavors to make this a reality, glaring issues should not be ignored. For example, the student-teacher ratio has increased, hence hampering delivery of quality education. There is dire need therefore to employ more teachers. Resources in the schools; such as text books, laboratory materials, computers among others are limited. What lingers in the minds of many is whether the introduction of free primary education was timely. Were economic issues such as the ability of the government to meet its obligation considered? If yes, would the education budgetary allocation cripple other pillar sectors of the economy such as Roads and Transport or Agriculture? May be the government would have to resort to external funding to finance its budget deficit, but with what implications?
My own experience is that, the growing numbers of students in the public schools have been unmanageable with the available resources being stretched to the limit. Mature students have joined primary schools causing social tensions within the school environment. Since adult education programme is in place, such students would have been encouraged to enroll in that programme. It is possible that this was a political move to show the whole world how our government is ‘committed’ to providing education to all.
Cultural issues have been a major impediment to provision of education to all. Some communities in Kenya do not encourage girls to take up education opportunities. Or even if they do, women are to play a specific role in society: to do household chores, bring up the children and take care of their spouses. It is no wonder, therefore, that early marriages are still rampant in certain communities. Some young girls fail to complete primary or secondary education because of early pregnancies.
With such situations, realizing development is almost futile. The question is whether the government or the communities themselves have been or are committed. If yes, to what extent, and if no, then why and what are the implications?
A case in point is in my home village, among the Giriama tribe in Kilifi District, Coast Province. Early pregnancies and marriages for the girls are rampant with little being done to the culprits. Those responsible for these ills in most cases are male adults, who are of sound mind. Hence, the noble effort of free primary education is not appreciated.
In my opinion, the effort of the government and the local leaders in designing and implementing educational programmes for the citizens should involve the whole community. The adults could act as good examples, but they have to be sensitized on the importance of education to all. If the adults...