The demand for basic education in Kenya has increased in the last five years with secondary level of education recording the highest demand according to the 2014 Basic Education Statistical report.
Of the three levels of basic education, secondary schools recorded the highest annual growth of 8.2 percent between 2009 and 2014, an increase that the report released by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology attributes to the ripple effects of free primary and secondary education.
The general enrollment in secondary education increased from 33.1 percent to 47.4 percent under the period of review with an additional 837,300 students. The number of secondary schools also increased by 8.2 percent with public secondary schools registering a growth of 8.9 percent annually while private schools grew at 3.9 percent down from 15 percent in 2009 a decline which the report says is due to the quick growth of public secondary schools.
Similarly, primary schools recorded a growth of 5.1 percent while Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) increased by one percent.
Enrollment in primary education increased by an additional 767,200 pupils due to free primary education but despite the growth the sector recorded a very high growth in the number of private primary schools of 76.9 percent during the period.
“The increased investment in private primary school was in response to the pressure created in public primary schools by free primary education,” reads the report.
ECDE enrollment increased by 772,600 pupils over the period with the ECDE centers rising from 38,247 in 2009 to 40,211 in 2014. Public centers increased at a slightly lower rate of 0.8 percent compared to private centers that grew at 1.4 percent.
Similarly, the report also states that there was notable increase in the number of private primary teacher training colleges from 89 to 101 to address the increased demand for trained teachers by the growing private schools.
On gender parity, the sector recorded an improvement across the three levels with the parity index between girls and boys at ECDE level, increasing over the period from 0.95 percent in 2009 to 1.05 percent in 2014. Notably, there were more girls than boys at the ECDE centers in 2014 an opposite scenario in 2009 where the centers recorded more boys than girls.
In Primary Education, the parity index improved over the period but did not get to parity by 2014 while despite a real improvement in the gender parity at Secondary Education over the period, the index still remains low at 0.92 percent.
“There are fewer girls than boys at secondary level,” states the report.
However, the report indicates that cross county disparities remain evident with arid and semi-arid counties like Garissa, Turkana, Tana River, Marsabit, Mandera, Samburu and Wajir recording the highest levels.
The report further indicates that there are 251, 542 learners with special needs while the number of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) stands at about 1.08M with majority of these learners being in both public primary and secondary schools.
“In public primary schools, about 3 percent of the learners are pupils with special needs while about 12 percent are OVCs. In public secondary the proportions are lower 0.2 percent and about 3 percent respectively,” says the report.
On teacher pupil ratio, the report states that there is no teacher shortage in the three levels with the ratio of government employed teachers to enrolled pupil or students within an acceptable range.
“The Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) for public schools based on Teachers Service Commission (TSC) stands at 41.5 which compares well with the international norm of 40 and considering there are teachers employed by the Board of Management (BOM), the ratio drops to 34.5,” reads the report.
However, the report points out that there are serious cross county disparities ranging from very high PTR of 101.3 in Turkana to a low of 25.4 in Baringo at the primary level while at secondary school level, the highest PTR is 41.9 in Migori while the lowest is 17.5 in Samburu.
Although the report details out a significant growth over the years, the sector faces several challenges ranging from lack of infrastructure, lack of gender parity in enrollment, high number of OVCs and high and low teacher pupil ratio in densely and sparsely populated areas respectively. Notably, the Ministry of Education should come up with strategies to address these challenges in order to achieve its mission of providing quality education.