Kenya’s struggle for independence served a major foundation for her educational development and change. The Kenyan government had to take quick action after independence in 1963 to develop a new educational policy and strategy to satisfy individual and national needs. In pursuit to attain a suitable educational system, education in Kenya has faced a lot of challenges and some are yet to be solved today. Its important therefore to explore these challenges and suggest some of the possible solutions to them.
Criticism on the curriculum.
For a long time, the Kenyan Institute Of Education has not had qualified curriculum developers. It has largely depended on the expertise of school teachers who do not necessarily understand the theory of curriculum development. They also lack confidence to innovate and have resorted to importing curriculum packages and modifying them to suit Kenyan education. This may lead to irrelevance of the curriculum as it may not meet the interests of the Kenyan nation. This problem may be solved by initiating a course on curriculum development both in diploma and degree level which will go a long way in training curriculum developers to meeting the needs of curriculum development.
There has also been widespread dissatisfaction with the existing curriculum. The curriculum has been criticized to contain a lot of irrelevance of much of what is taught and learned in schools. Its narrow in scope and overemphasizes on passing examinations. Interviews on a wide variety of people such as teachers and parents especially on what should be included in the curriculum and in the course of preparation of books will ensure a suitable curriculum is developed. Rapid changes on the curriculum also undermine teachers and pupil confidence in it. The curriculum should be therefore not be changed regularly and there should be curriculum diffusion at all levels including parents and politicians.
Criticism on the 8-4-4 system.
The 8-4-4 has been often criticized for being burdensome to pupils and teachers as teachers and pupils require many books and physical facilities. Further still it has been criticized of not being able to equip learners with immediate life skills. The ministry of education should be therefore reduce the curriculum offering to ensure effective learning takes place and also make it adaptable to national needs and developments.
For a long time, education in Kenya has witnessed a lot of gender inequalities in enrollment of pupils. Enrollment of the girl child has been considerably low in primary, secondary and university levels. This disparities may be attributed to social and cultural believes that favor education of the boy child. Further still it may suggest that when confronted with constraints of limited opportunities or resources, parents favor education of the male. Educating people on the importance of educating the girl child and launching affordable or free compulsory education to all Kenyans will go a long way in bridging the gender gap.
Challenges of free compulsory education.
In the year 2003 and 2008,the Kenyan government launched the program of free primary education and subsidized secondary education respectively. This program was to go a long way to ensure everybody could access education in Kenya regardless of their economic and social differences. True to its goal the education sector realized an explosion in enrollment of students in both primary and secondary levels. As a results of the high enrollment numbers the free education has faced a multiple of problems that has affected its efficiency . Some of these problems include; delays in disbursement of funds, mismanagement of funds, lack of funds overcrowding of classes, lack of enough teachers, overworking of teachers and lack of instructional requirements. All these problems have affected performance in public schools and hence should be addressed. For instance the government should disburse funds in good time to ensure school activities run well. It should also ensure the funds are managed appropriately through supervision and auditing of financial records. The communities should also work in hand with the government raise funds in aid of constructing enough classrooms for students. More teachers should also employed to suit the higher numbers of students and be highly supervised to ensure effective performance.
Unsatisfactory performance in mathematics and sciences.
There has been poor performance in mathematics and sciences in national examinations over years. This can however be attributed to the measure of staffing situation. Primary level teachers lack adequate background and find the subjects very difficult or lack motivation to teach. At secondary level output of university graduates is low and not all take up teaching professions and those who do the retention rate is very low. Bachelor of education degree in science and mathematics education for both primary and secondary teachers should be introduced to train competent teachers and a science education centre on teachers in service units should be established in the universities and Kenya Institute of Education both adequately equipped and staffed.
Lack of homogeneity as a result of multiplicity of languages.
Use of vernaculars especially at elementary levels as a teaching media has undermined homogeneity of education in Kenya. The use of vernacular languages as much as they may be beneficial to Kenyan communities instill tribalism among children at a tender age. Hence the ministry of education should eradicate use of vernaculars as teaching aids in schools to ensure uniformity and the children should be encouraged to view themselves as Kenyans at an early age.
H.I.V/A.I.DS has adversely affected education in Kenya. Loss of manpower in education can be highly attributed to these pandemic. Many students have lost their parents too through H.I.V/A.I.D.S that has become a national disaster. To reduce the effect of these pandemic that continues to claim more lives, there should be wide spread education of masses on prevention and control of the disease. A lot of attempts should also be made by scientists to ensure a cure for H.I.V is found.
Constant strikes of teachers.
Recent years has witnessed constant and prolonged strikes by teachers. This is as a result of low wages, delays in teachers’ salaries poor working conditions and bridge of contracts agreed upon by the teachers unions and the government. The result of these constant strikes is the disruption of education activities which automatically results to poor performance. Failure to honor teachers demands also dehumanizes the teaching profession. Hence there should be better and well outlined salaries and working conditions for teachers and the government should respect and honor teacher’s grievances.
Insecurity is one of the current problem facing education in Kenya. Ethnical clashes witnessed in 2007-2008 post-election violence and Tana River in 2012 greatly affect educational activities. Students and teachers in some parts of the country such as North Eastern Kenyan that are prone to insecurity are always worried of their safety. The Kenyan government should ensure a safe learning environment for teacher by providing enough security. Kenyans should also be educated to identify themselves as Kenyans and not according to their ethnic communities.
4.10 Lack of a Clear Professional Identity.
A profession is an occupation, practice or vocation requiring mastery of a complex set of knowledge and skill through formal education or experience. The teaching profession has often criticized for lacking a clear professional identity. This is because of a lot of untrained teachers or quacks who enter the teaching profession and leave at will without any control. To curb these problem, the ministry of education should establish a strategy to protect teaching profession and to also monitor private schools. A lot of teachers should also be trained to ensure there are no shortages that would result to the inclusion of untrained teachers in the profession.
Natural calamities such as droughts and floods affect educational activities. Methods of land reclamation, agro forestry and irrigation in areas constantly faced by famine will ensure there are no constant droughts. Migration from areas constantly faced by floods and near rivers will also ensure that these calamities do not affect educational activities.