By Malachi Motano

Over a decade ago, the UN member states rolled out Education For All (EFA) programme at a conference in Dakar-Senegal backed up in Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number 2. This was in the hope of achieving the noble goal by 2015.

It is 2015 and the big question stakeholders ask ‘where’ Kenya is? What has the government achieved?

According to the Ministry of education, Kenya has made big strides in most of the six EFA goals.

“The gross enrollment rate for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECDE) stood at 60.9 percent in 2010, which was a marked improvement from 57.9 percent in 2005, while primary school‘s net enrollment rate increased from 82.9 percent in 2005 to 91.4 percent in 2010. The gender parity index increased from 0.94 in 2007 to 1.02 in 2010.”

Other statistics from the ministry show that secondary school enrollment rate also improved from 28.8 percent in 2005 to 47.8 percent in 2010. Adult education in 2010 stood at 266,200 surpassing the projected target by 37, 319, most vulnerable children stood at 325,000 against the projected target of 728,000 as enrollment in special schools increased from 91,770 in 2005 to 221,995 in 2009 and the transition rates improved from primary to secondary from 56 percent in 2005 to 72 percent in 2010.

According to the report by UN released earlier (2014) in Nairobi, primary school enrollments stand at 90 percent.

Paulo Lewema, an ECDE teacher. He says they only want the pupils to know how to read and write. [Photo: Malachi Motano]

Paulo Lewema, an ECDE teacher. He says they only want the pupils to know how to read and write. [Photo: Malachi Motano]

While Kenya celebrates the improvement of increased enrollment in primary and secondary schools, it remains a pipe dream for communities in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL).

John Lengoine, the head teacher at Kametusa, a community primary school in Samburu says,

“This is just a school that was put up by parents living in this area. Although it was started 11 years ago, it has never recorded steady growth because we don’t have adequate facilities.”

He adds,

“Because we are not registered with the ministry, the government cannot send us teachers. We don’t benefit at all from the free primary education programme. I am a class eight dropout from Webera, the nearest primary in Isiolo town that is 54 km away.”

Francis Wamalwa, 28, is the acting assistant chief in the area and he adds,

“We are a pastoral community our sons normally help us move with our animals as the girls remain with their mothers taking care of our homes. We only send our children to Kametusa primary to go and learn how to read and write. Going to school does not help us much compared to our animals so opt to give them a lot of our attention.”

A part from not valuing education, continuous migration (pastoralism), inadequate learning facilities, poor infrastructure, and constant conflict have also challenged the achievement of the 2015 target.

According to the EFA global monitoring report by UNESCO, armed conflict is robbing 28 million children of an education by exposing them to widespread rape and other sexual violence, targeted attacks on schools and other human rights abuses.

The report by UNESCO. Kenya will miss the EFA goals by a big margin. [Photo: Malachi Motano]

The report by UNESCO. Kenya will miss the EFA goals by a big margin. [Photo: Malachi Motano]

The report, The Hidden Crisis: Armed conflict and education, cautions that the world is not on track to achieve by 2015 the six Education For All goals that over 160 countries signed up to in 2000. Although there has been progress in many areas, most of the goals will be missed by a wide margin – especially in regions riven by conflict.

Mohamed Elmi, the former minister for the development of northern Kenya says,

“Northern Kenya is no strange to violence. At any given time a school somewhere in this region will be closed as a result of armed conflict. And long after the conflict has ended, its impact may still be felt.”

To cite just one example, the Turbi massacre 2 in Marsabit in 2005 left nearly 100 people dead. More than 6,000 people were displaced by the violence, twelve hundred of whom were children. Eleven primary schools in the area were affected. Twenty-two of the dead were children at Turbi Primary School, who were killed just before starting their morning class.”

He regrets that the loss of innocent life on such a scale is heart-breaking, that is further compounded by the trauma which the surviving friends, students and teachers of those children must still feel today.

“In the last few days we have seen how the conflict in Somalia continues to spill over our borders, most recently into Mandera. For many years Kenya has hosted large refugee populations from Somalia, Sudan, and other countries in Africa. Dadaab, near Garissa, is one of the largest refugee camps in the world. Its population has more than doubled in four years. As a result, an education system that was designed to provide for 30,000 children is now struggling to provide for double that number,” he adds.