Efficiency of primary education in Kenya: Situational analysis and implications for educational reform

Type Working Paper
Title Efficiency of primary education in Kenya: Situational analysis and implications for educational reform
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1997
URL http://www.terremadri.it/materiali/aree_geopolitiche/africa/kenya/kenya_eff_edupri.pdf
This paper examines issues of efficiency in the primary level of education
in Kenya. Primary data were collected from 120 purposively selected primary
schools based in 12 Districts. Secondary data were collected from official
documents within the Ministry of Education, Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS)
and the Women’s Bureau. The position taken in this paper is that the
conceptualisation of the term school or education efficiency in a developing country
like Kenya should take a ‘process perspective’ as opposed to ‘outcome perspective’.
That is, there is need to go beyond the issue of “at what cost” is a school meeting
its objectives - e.g. at what cost was the low or high score produced. In education,
as opposed to a factory of physical goods, efficiency has to be pegged with how a
system of education as a whole operates to meet its objectives - what we call
‘holistic operation’.
This paper indicates that the operation of primary education system in
Kenya faces the problem of inefficiency. Completion rates have remained very
low (less than 50 per cent) for the last five years. Besides, national pupil-teacher
ratio is also low, about 31:1. This study also indicates that teaching-learning time
is not utilised efficiently in primary schools. Several factors are behind such
inefficiencies. These include: Education policies and management processes -
mis-allocation of resources to educational levels; school based factors - teachers
attitudes, time utilisation, school environment; and household based factors -
poverty, socio-cultural factors, and gender issues.
The most notable policy implication of the findings is that education in
Kenya needs a complete overhaul, and not piece-meal reforms. There is need to
review 8-4-4 curriculum in a comprehensive and holistic manner. The curriculum
has to be reduced and made relevant. This would allow for other reforms to take
place. Besides, viable and sustainable cost and financing mechanisms in education
have to be instituted to stop drop-outs form the system, thus enhance completion
rates. As a follow up to curriculum review, it is recommended that, the Ministry
of Education consider increasing the pupil-teacher ratio to 40:1. There is also
need for the introduction of shift or double system in primary education. This
would create more learning opportunities for pupils, and hence increase the efficient
utilisation of teaching-learning time. More training services for school mangers
to enhance the utilisation of school resources is also needed.

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