Education sector fails key test
Three trade unions have protested the privatisation and commercialisation of education in Kenya and called for national dialogue on the issue.
The lobbies: Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) yesterday launched a campaign against privatisation of education.
They said the Government should adequately fund the sector and ensure it serves public good.”All education stakeholders should be involved in national dialogue on the best way to regulate private education providers. Unions and other stakeholders should be at the centre of this dialogue,” the three said in a conference in Nairobi.
Union officials Collins Oyuu (Knut), Moses Nthurima (Kuppet) and Constantine Wasonga (Uasu) made the remarks after the release of a survey on privatisation and commercialisation of education in Kenya.
They said the education sector is in a mess, considering the inconsistent implementation of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), underfunding of public school infrastructure, acute teacher shortages, stagnant capitation and an “unfortunate debate to privatise university education”.
“These undermine the right to education, entrench and exacerbate inequalities, and exploit teachers’ and education support personnel (ESP’s), labour rights and working conditions. Also, they will derail achievement of Sustainable Development Goal Four, which is just six years away,” said Oyuu on behalf of the unions.
They urged the Government to revise and increase capitation to public schools, taking note of the high inflation rate.
Similarly, they want public schools to be revamped to make them more attractive to parents, learners and workers.
“The government should build more public schools, especially in urban informal settlements. These are densely populated areas but the schools lack good infrastructure, which is a recipe for privatisation and commercialisation,” they said.
They also want vigorous recruitment of trained teachers to address glaring shortages at both primary and secondary schools.
According to the survey commissioned by Kuppet and Knut, there are various reasons for privatisation and commercialisation of education in Kenya.
These include high demand for education, which outstrips the government’s efforts, hence the need for parents to seek alternative, private education providers.
Inadequate public schools was cited as another reason for privatisation, with entrepreneurs investing in edu-businesses.
“It was reported in the survey that some crowded, informal settlements made no provision for basic education institutions as they expanded,” he said. Also, the few available public schools are overcrowded.
According to the survey, free primary education and the 100 per cent transition to secondary school policy have led to high learner enrolments against inadequate funding, leading to large classes and overcrowding.