Since independence in, Kenya has had its share of the struggle to make it possible for its population attains education for all. This was out of the realization that education of the population would help fight ills that faced the society, among them included; poverty, ignorance, and disease. In fact, the government treated education as a basic right for every Kenyan child. Education has ever since been regarded as a fundamental factor for human capital development. In response to this urge, government developed policy documents that sort to expand access to education for its citizens. It is internationally recognized that everyone has a right to education, as agreed upon at various international conferences. Kenya tried to take the declarations seriously by ensuring that children have free access to basic education. The introduction of the Free Primary Education Policy in Kenya in 2003, however, provokes analysts to offer criticisms on the same. We can try to understand the concept of Free Primary Education by raising fundamental philosophical questions that may help us reflect on the policy.
Reasons for introducing Free primary education
As already introduced earlier, there have been good reasons for the provision of education for all citizens. The Kenyan government and other leaders believed that an educated populace will, among other things, be in a position to combat poverty, ignorance, and fight diseases. Inspired by these objectives and that of international concern, Kenya may be justified in its continued quest for the introduction of policies that seek to expand the education sector. Since independence, the country has witnessed an increase in the number of learning institutions. Literacy levels, especially, among the adults have increased tremendously. Educational services and facilities have spread all over the country ensuring relative uniformity in the levels of education among the people.
Research findings revealed that the enrollment at primary schools has more than doubled and indication that people needed the service seriously. However, there have been significant regional disparities as well as gender disparities in the primary schools as far as access to education is concerned (UNESCO, 2005). This has been one of the major reasons for the continued need for Universal Primary Education (UPE). This actually acknowledges that the need for free primary education is justifiable. With these as mental notes politicians used it to identify a powerful tool to include in their campaign manifestos. And in 2002, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) politicians effectively tapped the opportunity resulting in their landslide victory to power during the general election.
Nature of free primary school
Those who came up with the policy mush have thought out well the use of the terms that would sell the policy. In its technical sense, the statement meant the abolition of fees in all government schools as from 2003 academic year, provision of some learning materials to pupils, parents would continue to buy school uniforms and other agreed-upon levies, and that the funding of other non-salary expenditure comes in the form of grants from the government. However, with the political euphoria that swept the country then, the literal meaning of the policy was oversimplified to the level that it even confused further the actors in education. For purposes of wooing voters, politicians implied that the education of their children would be completely free of charge. Parents were the most affected by this assertion since by January 2003 they had no plans to incur any costs in the education of their children at the primary school level. The then Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) declared the FPE Policy in Kenya. The government and development partners were to pay fees and levies for tuition, meet the cost of basic teaching and learning materials as well as wages for critical non-teaching...
References: 1. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (2009). Abolishing school fees in
Africa: lessons from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Mozambique: a publication of
the World Bank in Collaboration with UNICEF. World Bank Publications
2. UNESCO (March 2005). Challenges of Implementing free Primary Education in Kenya. Assessment Report. UNESCO Nairobi Office
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