Education Reforms - Recommendations


The Government’s commitment to the provision of quality education and training to its citizens at all levels cannot be over emphasized. Vision 2030 singles out education and training as the vehicle that will drive Kenya into becoming a middle-income economy. In addition, the Constitution, 2010 has provided for free and compulsory basic education as a human right to every Kenyan child. It is because of this, that the Government took some action that has created a lot of dialogue on the education sector in recent months.
Have you heard of the Report by the Task force (TF) appointed by Education Minister Prof. Sam Ongeri in January 2011 to realign the education sector to Vision 2030 and the new Constitution?
The team handed over the report to the Minister on 3rd February this year and it has triggered a lot of public debate particularly through the media and other avenues. In the spirit of public stakeholder participation as called for by Article 10(2) of the constitution, the Ministry of education has been in full support of this fruitful debate and has been taking stock of the views generated by the debate.
In order to subject the TF report to further public discussions for inputs, the Ministry has organized a National Stakeholders Conference which brings together all the relevant parties to an open discussion forum beginning tomorrow 27th March at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. The main objective of the conference will be to validate the Report to enable the Ministry move forward with the reform agenda.
In coming up with its findings, the TF undertook a detailed situational analysis of the education sector by reviewing the Education Act, various commission reports, other relevant policy and legal documents;            Benchmarking with good practices from countries with national and county governments and also received submissions by various stakeholders. The TF held County cluster stakeholder consultation forums and also analysed memoranda submitted to it.
The TF identified a number of challenges, gaps and concerns which led to a pertinent question: “Is the Kenyan Education System and its institutions and programmes fit for the purpose?” Specific issues were identified including relevance with regard to content and delivery; sufficient flexibility to adapt to the changing socio-economic needs and requisite quality to match global competitiveness and to address challenges of the 21st century.
Other issues were effective governance and management; retention and transition rates at various levels; teacher education, management and attrition; effective structure; Standards and Quality Assurance; Monitoring and Evaluation; access especially to the vulnerable and a sufficiently flexible and responsive regulatory framework to deal with the current and emerging challenges and ensure total access, equity and quality.
Structure of Education, Curriculum and Assessment
The TF noted that the current system of education, curriculum and assessment does not include Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE). In addition, the quality of education was not clearly spelt out so that the curriculum delivery could focus on development of specific expected competences to be assessed.
In view of this, it was found necessary to recommend a more flexible and comprehensive structure for Kenya’s education system and curriculum reform to specify the expected competences at every level of learning. The recommended structure is 2 years of Pre-primary, 6 years of Primary (3 years lower and 3 years upper), 6 years Secondary (3 years junior and 3 years senior), 2 years minimum of Middle level Colleges and 3 years minimum University education. As a whole this structure will have two cycles; Basic Education cycle of 14 years which is free and compulsory, and a Higher Education cycle.
Rationale of the revised structure
The rationale for the revised structure is to ensure learners acquire competences and skills that will enable them to meet the human resource aspirations of Vision 2030 by offering a choice of subject pathways at the end of the Elementary School phase; ensure the attainment of 100% transition rate from primary to secondary, thereby reducing wastage by introducing automatic progression to the junior secondary phase based on the acquisition of core skills and competences (literacy, numeracy and communication skills).
The revised structure will also focus on early identification and nurturing of talent in individual learners at the end of the junior secondary phase; allow for specialization at the end of junior secondary; introduce a system of Competence Assessment Tests (CATS) measuring knowledge, skills and competences, the results of which will be cumulative and form part of a formative assessment process, the credits from which will be accumulated in the summative assessment at the end of each phase. This is distinct from the present situation where students either pass or fail and exit the system.
The new school calendar and term dates
It is recommended that the school year be divided into three terms of three months each as follows:Term I - September to November, Term II - January to March, Term III - May to July. The TF noted that the months of July and August have minimal public holidays allowing for ample time for management of examinations.
Curriculum: Aligning the curriculum to address the aspirations of the Constitution, Vision 2030 and the East African Community treaty was prioritized. It was proposed that the content for basic education should be designed with a view of equipping the learners with relevant knowledge that emphasizes on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship (Vision 2030), the development of their full capacities, living and working in dignity, enhancing the quality of their lives, making informed decisions and continuing with learning as a lifelong engagement.
The Task Force recommended major reforms of the curriculum to align it with the Constitution and to ensure that the aspirations of Vision 2030 are met; Structure the curriculum within a skills and competences framework that identifies the knowledge, skills and competences all learners will acquire, and which will provide both vertical and horizontal coherence.
It also proposed for the development of a progressive assessment framework that identifies the knowledge, skills and competences that will be assessed for each level of education and called for the revision of the curriculum and textbooks to ensure skills and competences are emphasized as proposed.
Assessment and evaluation: On assessment and Evaluation, the TF noted thatthe current summative assessment at the end of every cycle does not measure learners’ abilities. School-based assessments need to be strengthened so that regular and cumulative assessment in the form of Competence Assessment Tests (CATs) is put in place; the current education system is examination based and that the assessment has little regard to moulding good citizens and for self-reliance.
There is need, therefore, to introduce competency-based assessment in line with a competency based curriculum. Revision of curriculum and textbooks is proposed to ensure skills and competences are emphasized. The TF noted that assessment is not seen as part of the teaching and learning process but as a sieve to determine those who can move to higher education where the limited available space dictates the teaching/learning process towards examinations as opposed to competences applicable to life.
Achievement at Kenya Primary Education Certificate (KPEC) level and Kenya Junior Secondary Education Certificate (KJSEC) will be considered in Senior Secondary School admission and streaming.
Schools will be ranked based on holistic assessment on performance indicators built around the following areas: academic, co-curricular activities, quality of management, operations and maintenance of physical facilities, environmental care, learners’ services and community outreach programmes. The Cabinet Secretary will give a report on these indicators during a national education day. The process should start from institutions through the county to the national level.
The Task Force recommends that KNEC is renamed the Kenya Educational Assessment Council (KEAC) and strengthened to address all matters related to management and administration of assessments in the country.
Competency Assessment Tests (CATs) by teachers are to be supported with a national framework/guidelines or test-bank by KEAC to be made available online on a regular basis. These will make the CATs standard and de-emphasize the many private examination papers being sold all over the country. Management and administration of examinations leave room for malpractices.
Access, Relevance, Equity and Quality Education: Access, equity, quality and relevance are fundamental characteristics that define and drive systems of education and training. In this regard, the TF recommends the expansion of access to education at all levels; undertaking of major curriculum reviews; abolition of all school levies which discriminate against poor households; review of capitation grants to be in line with inflationary trends and the establishment of a National Council for Nomadic Education in Kenya (NACONEK).
Standards and Quality Assurance: While enrolment rates at primary and secondary levels have increased, learning achievements were found to be below the expected standards as schools are not regularly inspected and as such teachers and school management in general are not held accountable for the declining educational achievements in the country.  The TF therefore recommended that a semi-autonomous Education Standards and Quality Assurance Commission (ESQAC) be established. This would report to the Cabinet Secretary. It will be the national custodian of standards and quality in education and it will hold to account all service providers across the education sector.
The Commission for Higher Education (CHE) assumes responsibility for Standards and Quality Assurance across all universities and other institutions of higher learning.
National Accreditation and Assessment System
The TF recommended that the National Assessment Centre be adequately funded to facilitate effective administration of necessary studies and learning achievement tracking. In addition, an effective mechanism for dissemination and implementation of findings be developed.
It noted that the National Assessment Centre needs to be institutionalised, aligned with the new structure of education and capacitated to manage and administer National Summative Assessment for each cycle.
The TF calls for a review of the KNEC Act and other related Acts to address current and future challenges in examination administration and other issues regarding governance of examinations including the marking exercise. It also recommends that assessments that are diagnostic in nature should be enhanced to effectively evaluate learner achievements at all levels of education and maintains that Universities should focus on degree and postgraduate courses and avoid certificate courses.
The TF proposes the setting up of a National Qualification Framework for determining and assessing the level of achievement and competences of learners who have gone through different learning systems or different education structures. In order to achieve this, a National Qualification Authority (NQA) should be established by law.
The system shall set standards and benchmarks to be used to assess learner achievements comparatively. These benchmarks are then used to compare the achievements of a learner or the grade the learner is to be placed within the education systems and in the world of work.
Financing, Investment and Resource Mobilization
The TF recommends that Government continue reducing the cost of education to households through the provision of teachers, teaching and learning materials and grants to schools to cover operational and maintenance expenses under the Free Primary education (FPE) and Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) policy; capitation grants be allocated to learners in ECDE, primary, secondary, special needs education, adult education and not-for-profit non-formal schools that meet set criteria; that TIVET be brought into mainstream education so that the students can benefit from mainstream financing and enhanced skills development.
The TF calls for the diversification and institutionalization of university education funding sources to include government (grants, education bond and loans), private sector, development partners, scholarships, bursaries, financial institutions, income generating activities and philanthropy; encouragement of local, regional and international public private partnerships in financing education and for investment in teacher professional development.
The TF identified challenges at three levels, namely: national, county and institutional management. The Task Force thus recommended for improved coordination, accountability and increased community/stakeholder participation in planning, implementation, management and governance of education at all levels.
It called for the creation of a post for the Director General of Education who will be the chief technical advisor (or head of technical functions) to the Ministry and answerable to the PS and proposed for the establishment of eight key directorates to steer the Ministry in achieving its core functions.
The Task Force recommended that County Education Boards (CEB) and county directors of education be established and their functions and memberships be defined.
Human Capacity Development in Education and Training
With regard to human capacity development, the Task Force observed that the Ministry is currently heavily understaffed in terms of the technical cadre staff as it operates at less than half of the establishment. This shortfall is compounded by the creation of new administrative structures in the recent past.
The Task Force recommended that a clear human resource policy be developed to adequately address staff matters related to terms and conditions of service including recruitment, capacity building, promotion, deployment and redeployment in all cadres. This will enhance staff retention and boost the morale and motivation of staff. Senior staff at National and County levels should be competitively sourced.
It proposed that TIVET institutions be strengthened in terms of infrastructure with clear guidelines on their staff development.
Mentorship and Moulding to nurture national values
The TF noted that despite the importance of mentorship and moulding in the education sector, obvious gaps remain apparent. In particular, it is not clear where the responsibility lies among education stakeholders and those assigned have not put in place an effective programme. There is no clear policy or guidelines on mentorship by the government save for what takes place under guidance and counselling, which is not comprehensive enough.
It recommended that proper positioning of mentoring and moulding at all levels with a clear policy and legislation be put in place and partnership and collaboration with the relevant stakeholders including parents and local communities be encouraged. It further proposed that national values be mainstreamed in the curriculum and institutional managers and teachers be provided with necessary resources to deal with emerging issues such as substance abuse, violence and national values and cohesion.
Research, Education and Training
The TF observes that research is ‘mystified’ and remains a preserve of few Ministries and/or academic institutions - like universities where it is mainly at postgraduate level. Funding for research programmes remains very low. It is not a priority and therefore remains lowly resourced in terms of finances, material and human resources. Social research is yet to be recognised as a planning and management tool in education and other sectors of development.
The TF recommended that research be institutionalised by teaching basic research skills among teachers and be cascaded to lower levels including ECDE levels, to encourage critical, independent and investigative thinking among young learners and for the development of a clear policy and legal framework on research.
Science, Technology and Innovation
Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) are key and critical in the achievement of Kenya’s Vision 2030. The Task Force identified challenges that need to be addressed to facilitate activities that are suitable for the delivery of desired levels of growth and technological advancement. Science, Technology and Innovation should be harnessed to stimulate industrial initiatives for increased and sustained economic growth.
Among recommendations it made included adequate and well trained staff in ST&I be put in place and for the curriculum to be regularly reviewed to meet skills demands that are constantly changing.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education
The TF noted that only about 2% of schools in the country have the necessary ICT infrastructure. It recommended that ICT institutional framework be strengthened to allow efficient integration of ICT in the entire education sector with enhanced ICT capacity at all levels and for the establishment of a  National Centre for ICT Integration in Education (NACICTIE) and be devolved to counties. It also called for the provision of technical backup in ICT initiatives in government learning educational institutions. 
Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in Education
Open and Distance Learning is merely mentioned in the current Sessional Paper No.1 of 2005 and lacks policy framework for implementation. There is minimum use of Open and Distance Learning approaches in Primary and Secondary schools in Kenya - even in areas where physical and socio-economic barriers hinder access - especially among the difficult to reach communities.
The TF recommended that the Government facilitates the establishment of a national university dedicated to Open and Distance Learning. It also proposed that the government explores the possibility of adopting distance and open learning approaches including home schools at all levels of the national education system and for the developme3nt of relevant materials in e-learning.
Teacher Education and Management
The general consensus is that Teacher Education in Kenya has not kept pace with developments that have occurred throughout most developed countries. A policy framework for teacher education is lacking, while at the same time teacher education and the teaching profession are not well defined as few teachers have a clearly defined career development plan.
The Task Force recommended for teaching and teacher education be professionalized and called for government to grant public universities full academic and professional responsibility for the TTCs.
Among other recommendations were that government makes Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of teachers and teacher educators a contractual entitlement.
Public Private Partnerships
Public private partnership in education is a mutual collaboration between the government and the private sector that could help reduce public spending, increase access, equality, equity in the provision of education. In this case, the private sector is instrumental in supplementing government efforts in providing services in the education sector.
The TF therefore recommended for the creation of a revolving fund which would be accessed by members at a lower interest rate for both short term and long term interest in education projects and proposed that the government provides adequate incentives to private investors in education so that they are able to effectively contribute to improving access, quality, equity and relevance.
Regulatory Framework
Since independence in 1963, the Government of Kenya has committed itself to providing an education system that guarantees the right of every learner to quality and relevant education. In an effort to provide quality education, the Government has laid down regulatory mechanisms mainly within the Education Act Cap. 211 and other legal instruments, although these have generally proved inadequate.
In this regard, the TF recommended that there be a single Ministry of education and an inter- ministerial committee to coordinate all ministries and non- line departments that have a stake in the regulation of educational matters. It also called for the eight directorates for education to be entrenched in law including student’s councils and Parent Teacher Associations.
It finally called for the appointment of a Committee of educational experts to guide the implementation of education reforms contained in the report.
A full copy of the Report can be found and downloaded from the Ministry’s website /Documents.aspx?

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