The low quality of education coupled with a rise in private and informal schools were among the issues flagged in the latest report published by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Education in Kenya is under scrutiny following a new United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) report published at the beginning of February. For Committee Member and Rapporteur for Kenya, Olga Khazova, the growth of unmonitored private education providers is a cause for growing concern as it directly affects the quality of education. Her questions were reflected in the Committee’s “ Concluding Observations.”
The CRC especially took issue with the “Low quality of education and rapid increase of private and informal schools, including those funded by foreign development aids, providing sub-standard education and deepening inequalities.”It urged the Kenyan government to “Guarantee the legal right to free mandatory education for all, without direct or hidden costs, including non-Kenyan citizens such as in particular refugee children,” as well as “prioritise free primaryquality education at public schools over private schools and informal low cost schools and regulate and monitor the quality of education provided by private informal schools in line with the Convention.”
The timing of the report coincides with Education International (EI)’s extensive work in Kenya to curb the spread of privatisation and commercialisation in and of education. During a recent visit to Nairobi, an EI delegation worked closely with its affiliate unions to organise their efforts to strengthen free public education.
“The new United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on education makes it very clear: governments must ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “This report shows that despite international agreements, we must continue our efforts to stop the commercialisation of our education systems.”
In response to the report, Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion said that “in the last years, we have witnessed a growing support of the authorities to private schools, including private multinational companies that come to make profit out of poor Kenyan children.” Sossion reiterated that those actions violate the right to free quality education guaranteed by both the Kenyan constitution and international law.