Sunday, 28th May 2023, Sarova Panafric Hotel, Nairobi

EBWG Launching Minimum Standards and Principles of Education suitable for Kenya in the 21st Century – #ELIMU BORA, SI BORA ELIMU

Elimu Bora Working Group announced to the public in January 2023 that we were embarking on a journey to help transform Education in Kenya to align with a new vision founded on basic human rights principles and a known philosophy – Education for Responsible and Productive Citizenship.

Through the reporting panel, working in consultation with the EBWG Reference Team, and with technical retreat by experts to review the report and give final inputs informing the framework and key deliverables going forward, EBWG undertook a two-staged process starting with the development of the minimum standards and principles of Education suitable for Kenya in the 21st Century.

The panel undertook some desk reviews of available literature to inform the report and build on content. We further engaged with critical key informants and analysed key local/national, regional and international commitments that Kenya has made in advancing Education for her citizens.

The panel also reviewed reports of the past presidential task forces, working parties and commissions, right from the Fraser Commission report of 1909 which was the earliest recorded public policy for formal Education in Kenya and that which recommended some Education for Africans to provide them with simple basic skills fit to serve the local white settler community market, to the Task Force on the Realignment of Education and Training to dictates of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 chaired by Prof. Douglas Odhiambo of 2012, which recommended the introduction of a competency-based curriculum. The analysis was concluded before the report of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms chaired by Prof. Raphael Munavu (2022) had published its report (which is not ready yet even as at the time of giving this media brief).

It should be noted that none of the commissions delved into the basic philosophy of Education based on the African culture – UTU - that would have revolutionized learning. None of the Education reports has attempted to provide a clear vision for Education, hence Kenyans must therefore embark on recreating the philosophical foundation of Education in Kenya. None of the commissions provided solutions to the crisis of underfunding in Education with its ugly consequences of severe deterioration in quality especially in public schools. Instead, some recommendations like that derived from the Structural Adjustment Programmes imposed by the Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank and the IMF) in the 1980’s endorsed user fees in recovering education costs. Since the 90s, the government virtually stopped investing directly, in the building of new public primary and secondary schools in the country. This has left the development of educational institutions to the parents and a few private sector actors.

Now therefore, at a time when a number of Education sector changes are taking place in the country, Civil Society actors working under the Elimu Bora Working Group are keen on providing concrete minimum standards and principles of Education to enable Kenyans avoid another botched up Education reform initiative. These principles and minimum standards shall act as the GUIDE upon which Kenyans will interrogate any new Education reform initiative including the work of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms 2022.

Challenges -

We observe that Education in Kenya is riddled with a myriad of challenges including incoherent policy and philosophy, lack of overarching goal and vision, lack of guiding principles and concrete objectives, lack of optimal standards for defining and providing quality Education, lack of a predictable to curriculum development, class segregation, deep rooted inequalities, among others. Marginalised areas, rural and urban poor communities have been left behind.

Education for what?...

The search for a comprehensive, holistic and empowering Education policy must begin with the foundational question... Education for what? –

  • does it encapsulate an empowering and inspirational national philosophy?
  • does it meet the ideals and values entrenched in the constitution of Kenya?
  • does it empower the learner to exploit his/her full potential?
  • does it honour and adequately remunerate teachers?
  • does it engender a sense of responsible and productive citizenship?
  • does it place the learners and community at the centre of development processes?
  • does it meet Kenya’s national development ambitions?
  • does it have a financing framework that meets its goals and objectives?
  • is it accessible without any discrimination?

The guiding principles –

  • Education is a fundamental human right and a public good that every government has the cardinal obligation to provide.
  • Education shall be inclusive, equitable and of right quality with lifelong learning opportunities for responsible and productive citizenship.
  • Education shall be inclusive, equitable, available, accessible, acceptable, and adaptable for all.
  • Education shall be holistic and value based.
  • Education shall empower the learner with skills for the 21st
  • Education shall be founded on our rich African heritage.
  • Education shall empower the learner to exploit his/her full potential.
  • Education shall nurture creativity, innovativeness and critical thinking.
  • Education shall be emancipatory and liberative.
  • Education shall dignify the teacher and learner.
  • Education is lifelong and continuing, accessing meaningful and progressive learning.

Setting the standards -

EBWG recommends:

  • Education financing and accountability.

            Prioritize Education for at least the next 20 years

Implement constitutional directives of free and compulsory basic Education and work towards free higher Education, and no privatisation

Establish a National Education Fund

Establish and operationalize a framework of transparency and accountability in Education resource use

  • Education infrastructure – government to provide education infrastructure devoid of discrimination on any grounds whatsoever.
  • Assessment of learning achievements and Education outcomes – should not block or be a barrier to transition to higher levels.
  • Education and school management – The government must stop forthwith the practice of controlling the management of public universities by appointing compliant council members and university administrators. We call for total overhaul of the University Act 2012
  • Education and livelihoods – Education to support and facilitate natural resources utilization for sustainable livelihoods of the people.
  • School feeding programmes to be integrated into the Basic Education cycle.
  • Communities and homes be empowered as Education support systems.

Commitments of EBWG and how Action Begins –

  1. Rolling out a process of developing a Comprehensive National Education Policy prototype
  2. Initiative consultations for establishment of a National Education Fund
  3. Securing protection of Education Reforms to be based on a National Philosophy and Human Rights Foundation

Signed by:

  1. Youth Agenda
  2. The Kenya Human Rights Commission
  3. Elimu Tuitakayo
  4. Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU)
  5. Kenya National Interface Team
  6. Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (CRE-CO)
  7. National Students Caucus
  8. Social Justice Center