Kenya has received rare praise from the World Bank for reforms to its education system, which has drawn its share of criticism for its demanding but bewildering scope.
The World Bank , pointed out in a monitoring report released last week a significant improvement in literacy or languages and arithmetic – two fundamental subjects that learners interact with early in their school years – despite challenges such as overcrowding and broken calendars due to Covid-19.
As part of the recent reforms to its education system, Kenya has divided the years spent in school through the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), which aims to focus on practical training as opposed to studying for exams.
< p>While students used to having spent eight years in elementary school and four in secondary school, they are now doing six years in elementary school, then three years in junior high so-called Junior Secondary and spend another three years in Senior Secondary.
Kenya has also opted for the professional teacher development system, modifying the curriculum for teacher training and licensing, while at the same time focusing on a textbook pro -Student policies and better school governance practices with a view to improving student safety.
These changes, according to the World Bank report, “Kenya Economic Update: Edition 25: Aiming High, Securing Education to sustainable recovery,” are the drivers behind improved learning outcomes that help students in the country perform better than their peers in the region.
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Between 2016 and 2018, grade III tests on math, English and Kiswahili learning revealed improvements in all areas d three subjects. The proportion of students who meet the minimum requirements increased by six percentage points in math, by 16 points in English and by one point in Swahili.
Performance has also improved significantly in other elementary and secondary school subjects.
“More recently, preschool math tests conducted between 2015 and 2021 show that the proportion of children who meet minimum math proficiency levels is improving rapidly, from 71 percent in 2016 to 80 percent in 2021 says the report.
Problems become opportunities
But there are problems that the World Bank hopes Kenyan colleagues in the region can turn into lessons .
In Kenya there are over 16 million students education system. These learners are mentored by approximately 500,000 teachers spread across 90,000 preschool, elementary and secondary schools.
The report shows that while learners in most counties are exceeding the expected 12 years of elementary education, however, learners in the districts less in the north and north-east of the country and in arid/semi-arid areas only have 6.5 years of schooling.
A child in Kenya completes an average of 11.6 years of schooling, which, when looking at the level of learning compared to other countries, the effective school years is 8.4.
Despite the good performance, the education system still faces several challenges, including large regional disparities. Only Nairobi County is close to completing the 12-year learning-adapted school years. This means that the number of learners who drop out of school is still high in the country.
Educational outcomes are much lower in rural areas and for low-income populations than in urban areas.Pedro Cerdan Infantes, a senior economist at the World Bank, says that while learning remains one of the most important assets for any country to foster equitable growth and poverty reduction, it needs a solid foundation. Kenya, he argues, has started to address this.
“While the education sector faces treacherous sources of inequality, including unequal quality and outcomes, Kenya has embarked on ambitious reforms to address the quality issues , rather than accounting for work done because of near-universal access and coverage,” he said Tuesday.
Preschool enrollment rose 11 percent and secondary school enrollment rose 17 percent, while elementary school enrollment increased increased only slightly.
“Kenya made an impressive effort in education before the pandemic, increasing spending, increasing enrollment at all levels of education and continuously improving learning outcomes, making it one of the education leaders in of the region.” reads the report.
At the secondary school level, the report shows that performance in the Kenyan S Gradually improved secondary school attainment by 11 percent to 18 percent since 2017.
This has declined despite the performance of s students in the previous year.
Tertiary and Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institutions (TVET ) have also doubled.
Net enrollment rates are significantly higher in preschool, primary and secondary education for children from households in the top 20 percent of the income distribution compared to the bottom 20 percent.
But education like other social services that have suffered badly during the Covid-19 pandemic. Kenya closed schools for almost a year. The result was to accelerate the program by turning two academic years into a calendar and a half years. With many families losing income or even breadwinners during Covid-19, many learners also dropped out.
“Efforts to offer distance learning revealed a significant digital divide, with over 50 percent of students left out, mainly due to lack of proper electronic devices, access to electricity and internet connection,” reveals the report.
Approximately 17 million students and more than 320,000 teachers were affected by the closure of 30,000 primary and secondary schools in the year 2020.
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Gender disparities in school participation are concentrated in the most illiterate districts, mainly in the northeastern and coastal regions. More girls than boys drop out of school every year.
Reasons for girls dropping out of school include poverty and high school fees, poor infrastructure and long distances to schools, unsafe learning environments and increased exposure to violence and sexual abuse Harassment or abuse.
Girls are also affected by early pregnancies, which contributes to higher dropout rates in secondary school, which averages 80.5 births for every 1,000 girls under the age of 18.