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An Overview of the Kenyan Education System: Issues and Obstacles to Learning Posted by Lee-Anne Benoit on April 27th 2013
I’m back again with an outline of what I’ve learned about the Kenyan Education system from the diverse experiences that I’ve had. You’ll notice this blog is slightly more academic in nature, but I felt that it was important to find research to back up my own observations. Education is perceived as one of the principal motivating factors behind national economic development and it is one of the most effective ways in which individuals can ever hope to achieve better opportunities and a higher standard of living in Kenya. For these reasons Kenya has invested heavily into its education system over the past twenty years. It is my primary objective in this blog to express all that I have learned about the primary and secondary education systems in Kenya in the short 12 weeks that I have been here. I discuss the structure of primary and secondary schools, the implementation of universal free primary education (FPE), limited and equitable access to education, obstacles to learning within the classroom, special needs education and inclusion. My understanding is derived from my experiences visiting and working at eleven different public and private schools in Kenya, two Masters courses in Special Needs Education that I audited, academic journal articles as well as several discussions and conversations that I have had with various individuals related to the field of education. Structure of Primary and Secondary Education
To begin, I’d like to outline what I have learned about the structure of primary and secondary schooling in Kenya. I have gained most of my insight from visiting nine different public and private schools in Nairobi and Mombasa. During these visits I was able to tour each school, observe classes, and interact with administrators, teachers, and students. What follows is an account of some of the pertinent information that I have gathered. Children begin primary classes around the age of three years old. They enter a nursery program for roughly two years before commencing Standard 1. Depending on their final KCPE (Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education) examination marks at the end of Standard 8, students may or may not qualify to attend a secondary high school. Secondary school in Kenya has four levels, forms 1 – 4 and is completed only when students finish their KCSE (Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education) examinations. Again, student grades play a key role in determining whether or not students are able to attend university. Due to the ethnic diversity in Kenya (42 different tribes), children begin school speaking a variety of languages. Because of this, all students study their subject material predominantly in Kiswahili up until Standard 3 in a homeroom classroom. It is not until Standard 4 students are immersed in English and must follow a strict timetable of up to 10 lessons a day. The subjects taught in the primary grades include Math, English, Kiswahili, Science, Social Studies and Christian Religious Studies. Depending on the location of the school, students may study Islam. Looking through the Kenyan Primary Education curriculum documents, I noticed that art and music were indeed included in the syllabus. However, after inquiring after this, I discovered that art and music have been cut from the timetable due of the cost and perceived unimportance of the subject material. From the little experience I have, it seems as though the degree to which children are allowed to express themselves creatively through art and music depends largely on the school and classroom teachers. From personal observation I can say with confidence that the approach to education in Kenya is largely teacher centered and by the book. Teachers strictly adhere to the Kenyan syllabus for both primary...
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