Oxford Brookes University Paul Kenya The Kenya Free Primary Education Policy (FPE)

Oxford Brookes University

                        Paul Kenya

The Kenya Free Primary Education Policy (FPE)

An Assessment on the Impact and Sustainability of Free
       Primary Education in Migwani Division

Centre for Emergency and Development Practice (CENDEP), School of
                      the Built Environment

     Masters of Art in Humanitarian and Development Practice
Oxford Brookes University

Centre for Emergency and Development Practice (CENDEP), School of the
                          Built Environment

        Masters of Art in Humanitarian and Development Practice

                                    Paul Kenya

            The Kenya Free Primary Education Policy (FPE)
  An Assessment on the Impact and Sustainability of Free Primary
                 Education in Migwani Division

                        Supervisor: Dr Mohamed Hamza

                            Submitted February 2008

  This thesis is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
              Masters of Art in Humanitarian and Development Practice

Table of Contents                                       Page

Table of Contents                                       1
List of Tables                                          3
List of Charts                                          3
List of Acronyms                                        4
Acknowledgments                                         6
Abstract                                                7

Chapter One                                             8

1.1    Introduction                                     8
       1.1.1     Kenya Profile                          8
       1.1.2     Review of the Kenya education system   11
1.2    Research Aim and Objectives                      14
1.3    Research Methodology                             15
1.4    Organisation of the Study                        17
       1.4.1     Research Design                        17
       1.4.2     Selection of Case Studies              17
       1.4.3     Limitations of the Study               18

Chapter Two                                             21

2.1    Literature Review                                21
       2.1.1 Rights of the Child                        27
       2.1.2 Free Primary Education and its Rationale   29

Chapter Three                                           33

3.1    Case Studies                                     33

       3.1.1   Itoloni Primary School                     33
       3.1.2   Kangutheni Primary School                  36
       3.1.3   Kalembwa Primary school                    39
       3.1.4   Migwani AIC Primary                        43
       3.1.5   Itumbi Primary school                      48
       3.1.6   Kyamboo Primary School                     50
       3.1.7   Migwani DEB School                         53
       3.1.8   Tumaini Primary School                     56
       3.1.9   Area Education Office (Migwani Division)   58

Chapter Four                                              62

4.1 Results                                               62
       4.1.1   FPE Policy                                 62
       4.1.2   Performance and Learning Materials         63
       4.1.3   Enrolment and Student Retention            65
       4.1.4   Funding                                    68

Chapter Five                                              70

5.1    Discussion                                         70
       5.1.2   Review on Enrolment                        70
       5.1.3   Quality of Education                       71
       5.1.4   Funding                                    72
       5.1.5   Conclusions

Chapter Six                                               75

6.1    Recommendations                                    75
       6.1.1 Enhancing Community Participation            75

       6.1.2     Dealing with the Enrolment Rates                    76
       6.1.3     Reviewing School Funding                            77
       6.1.4     Enhancing the Quality of Education                  78

Appendix A: Interview Questions for Various Groups                   82
Appendix B: Data Tables                                              83
References and Bibliography                                          84

List of Tables

Table 1: Funding: Itoloni Primary School                             36

Table 2: Funding: Kangutheni Primary School                          39
Table 3: Funding: Kalembwa Primary school                            42
Table 4: Funding: Migwani AIC Primary                                46
Table 5: Funding: Itumbi Primary school                              48
Table 6: Funding: Kyamboo Primary School                             53
Table 7: Funding: Migwani DEB School                                 56
Table 8: KCPE Mean Scores: Migwani Location                          64
Table 9: Overall Dropout Range in Migwani since 2003                 66
Table 10: Dropout Ranges by Gender since 2003                        67

List of Charts

Chart1: Enrolment and KCPE performance: Itoloni Primary School       34
Chart1B: Enrolment by Gender: Itoloni Primary School                 35
Chart 2: Enrolment and KCPE performance: Kangutheni Primary School   37
Chart 2B: Enrolment by Gender: Kangutheni Primary School             38

Chart 3: Enrolment and KCPE performance: Kalembwa Primary school   40
Chart 3B: Enrolment by Gender: Kalembwa Primary school             41
Chart 4: Enrolment and KCPE performance: Migwani AIC Primary       43
Chart 4B: Enrolment by Gender: Migwani AIC Primary                 44
Chart 5: Enrolment and KCPE performance: Itumbi Primary school     48
Chart 6: Enrolment and KCPE performance: Kyamboo Primary School    51
Chart 6B: Enrolment by Gender: Kyamboo Primary School              51
Chart 7: Enrolment and KCPE performance: Migwani DEB School        54
Chart 7B: Enrolment by Gender: Migwani DEB School                  54
Chart 8: Enrolment: Tumaini Primary School                         57
Chart 8B: Enrolment by Gender: Tumaini Primary School              57
Chart 9: Migwani Location Overall enrolment                        59
Chart 9B: Migwani Location KCPE Performance                        59
Chart 9C: Migwani Location: Enrolment by Gender                    60

List of Acronyms

AIDS          Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
ASAL          Arid and Semi Arid Areas
BOG           Board of Governors
CBO           Community Based Organizations
DEB           District Education Board
DEO           District Education Officer
ECD           Early Childhood Development
EFA           Education For all
FPE           Free Primary Education
FSE           Free Secondary Education
GDP           Gross Domestic Product
GER           Gross Enrolment Rate

GOK          Government of Kenya
GPA          General Purpose Account
HIV          Human Immunodeficiency virus
KCPE         Kenya Certificate of Education
KESI         Kenya Education Staff Institute
KIE          Kenya Institute of Education
KISE         Kenya Institute of Special Education
KNEC         Kenya National Examinations Council
MDG          Millennium Development Goals
MOEST        Ministry of Education
MOH          Ministry of Health
NARC         National Alliance Rainbow Coalition
NFE          Non formal Education
NGO          Non- governmental Organisation
PTA          Parents Teachers Association
PTR          Pupil Teachers Ratio
SFP          School Feeding Programme
SMC          School management Committee
STD          Sexually transmitted Diseases
SWAP         Sector Wide Approach
TAC          Teacher Advisory Committee
TIQET        Totally Integrated quality Education Training
TSC          Teachers Service Commission
UNICEF       United Nations Children’s Fund
UPE          Universal Primary Education

Swahili Phrases

Harrambee Schools   Community created schools
Elimu Bora          Better Education


I would like to thank the Migwani Resource Centre for the support they gave me while
conducting my research and the Area Education Office of Migwani for giving me access
to the schools in the Location. I am thankful to the teachers, students and the community
members of Migwani who took time off their busy schedules to share their thoughts on
this new policy. The support and guidance I received from the course chair Dr. David
Sanderson and my fellow Oxford Brookes HDP masters students lead to my choice of
this subject area which has greatly enhanced my knowledge in the Kenyan education
sector. As an intern at UNICEF Regional Office in Nairobi, I received more training in
Excel and had access to the UN library for which I am very grateful to the Management
at the Human Resource Section. This research would not have been complete without the
continuous support by my Supervisor Dr. Mohamed Hamza who helped me into shaping
this study.

I would like to thank my wife Cherie Siggelkow who helped in editing my work and who
encouraged me during and after the research period. Her interests in this field of study
and her past experience in research were invaluable to me. Finally, I dedicate this paper
to my newly born daughter, Makeda Kenya (currently nine months) who through her
early morning wake up calls kept me out of bed to focus on completing my research.
Chapter after chapter, we moved together from one growth spout to another. May the
team spirit we established in your early stages of life, be the beginning of a long time
partnership throughout our lives!


On January 6th 2003, the Kenyan children started the day with new vigor and hope.
Primary education was free and all that was required was for every child regardless of
age to walk to a school next to where they lived. This research aims to evaluate the
impact of the FPE policy and its sustainability. Though the abolition of school levies
increased the number of students attending primary school, with it came many challenges
that the government continues to face. The issue of quality education has been of great
concern as the number of pupils have doubled or tripled in some cases, thus affecting the
pupil to teacher ratios. Some parents have since then removed their children from private
school so as to benefit from this free education while others have left the public sectors
due to poor quality of education and overcrowded classes.

This study comes almost five years after the implementation of the FPE and when the
country is ready to go to the polls again. It’s a reasonable time frame after ample time has
been given to incorporate the lessons learnt and will offer a comparative report with the
government end of term reports. Though the Kenya Government pledged to provide
funds for purchase of all teaching learning materials, teachers’ salaries and for capacity
building programs, reports of delayed or inadequate funding are common among most
institutions. As in many African nations that have implemented FPE, the question of
sustaining FPE when there has been a heavy initial dose of donor funds injected into the
program is still a big debate in Kenya. This research combines case studies from
Migwani location and a literature review, aimed at exploring the effectiveness of FPE and
furthers the debate on how this can be measured. The author will share results from
interviews with head teachers, teachers, pupils, parents, community leaders and
government officials in the location. The qualitative and quantitative data collected
through interviews and observation during the research will be analysed through
discussions, charts and tables. After a comparison and categorising common themes, it
will be used to help in the final discussions and conclusions. While a lot of work has been
written on the new FPE, it’s been argued that most of it was done either too early in the
implementation or was politically tuned to give the new government some credit.

Chapter One

1.1      Introduction

      “What People can positively achieve is influenced by economic opportunities,
      political liberties, social powers and the enabling conditions of good health, basic
      education, and the encouragement and cultivation of initiatives (SEN, A 1999 pp5)”.

Persistence of poverty and other unfulfilled basic needs are factors that constrain the
social, political and the economic opportunities available to Kenyans. Kenyan parents
place a high premium on quality education as this is seen as the only opportunity to break
away from poverty. This has further been reinforced by the governments adoption of the
Free Primary Education (FPE) policy aimed at the provision of education and training for
all Kenyan children as fundamental to the success of the government overall development
strategy. While a lot has been written by the government on the success of the FPE in
Kenya, implementation problems continue to be experienced at the grassroots level. As
Kenya goes to the poll yet again on December 27, 2007, it is important to examine the
FPE impact and sustainability as the government is already pledging Free Secondary
Education (FSE) if they remain in power. Could a shift in government affect the current
funding of FPE, which is partly reliant on external donors? This research aims to review
the impact and sustainability of the FPE policy in the hope that the challenges and lessons
learnt can be addressed so as to retain the focus on ‘Education for All’ (EFA) as a
development strategy for the nation.

1.1.1    Kenya Profile

Kenya lies astride the equator and is in Eastern Africa. It lays between Somali and
Tanzania and boarders the Indian Ocean. Kenya gained independence in 1963 from the
United Kingdom. After Independence, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party
was the ruling party and remained so until 1992 when the country ushered in the

multiparty era after a lot of pressure from the opposition. Kenya has had three presidents
since independence, namely, Jomo Kenyatta (1963- 1978), Daniel Arap Moi (1978-
2002) and Mwai Kibaki (2002- present). The country is preparing for polls (December
27) as this research is undertaken. President Kibaki came to power in 2002 under the
National Alliance Rainbow Coalition (NARC) party. NARC achieved a solid
parliamentary majority on an anti-corruption platform. Most Kenyans deemed the
elections as the most credible since independence (though cases of violence and rigging
were reported in places). Kibaki continued to have problems after elections due to
differences in the constituent parties on the constitutional review process and sharing of
power (earlier outlined in a memorandum of understanding which he disregarded after
becoming president). In 2005, the NARC coalition split over these differences and a new
coalition the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) was formed while others rejoined KANU.
Due to further differences, Kibaki has abandoned NARC and formed a new coalition, the
Party of National Unity (PNU) that consists of pro Kibaki supporters, rallying for his re-

The population of Kenya in 1999 was estimated as 28.7 million (GoK, 1999) and is
estimated for 2007 to be around 36.9 million (FRD, 2007). Kenya hosts about 160,000
refugees (UNHCR, 2007) in three refugee camps in northern Kenya, mostly Somalis.
Despite repatriation efforts (in conjunction with the * UNHCR) and being in the forefront
in organizing and hosting peace talks within the region, Kenya continues to receive
refugees from it s neighbouring countries. The age structure in Kenya is young with 42%
of its population being under fifteen years and only 2.6% are older than sixty-five years.
The median age is 18.6 years (FRD, 2007). Kenya has forty different ethnic groups,
which are divided into three major linguistic groups namely the Bantu, Nilotes and the

Tropical diseases like malaria and TB continue to be Kenya’s biggest health challenge.
With the recent outbreaks of HIV, TB has become associated with most HIV positive

 UNHCR: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The lead United Nations agency for dealing
with refugees and internally displaced people.

patients. The HIV prevalence rate has decreased significantly over the past several years
and the current rate of infection among adults aged fifteen to forty nine is 6.1%
(UNAIDS, 2007). The National Aids Control Council (NACC) was established to
oversee all interventions related to HIV after the government declared HIV/AIDS a
national disaster in 1999. UNICEF (2007) puts the general HIV prevalence rate at 6.7%.
In 2006, over 760,000 adults in Kenya were tested for HIV and 110,000 (35%) of those
were in need of treatment (and have access to it) and it included 6000 children (UNAIDS,
2007). HIV reduces the households’ capacity to care for children. The elderly are forced
to take on the orphans, thus stretching the needs of these households. The NACC is
mandated with the distribution of funds to Community Based Organizations (CBO), Non
Governmental Organizations (NGO) and Faith Based Organizations (FBO) countrywide
in the government planned response. The government launched an education sector
policy on HIV in 2004 aimed at enhancing the prevention and mitigation efforts against
the impact of the illness at school, home and workplaces. Today, HIV is still a major
health concern and continues to challenge and/or affect parents, teachers and students
alike. By 2001, 1.5 million Kenyans died of HIV. The number is expected to double by
2010 (GoK, 2003)

Migwani Location is in Mwingi district in the Eastern province. Residents of Migwani
are from the Kamba tribe, which belongs to the Bantu linguistic group. It neighbours the
semi arid North Eastern province that has the highest poverty rate in the country of 73 %
(GOK- KIHBS, 2006). The UNAIDS (2007) estimates that 58% of Kenyans live on less
than two dollars a day. Mwingi is one of the seventy-one provinces in Kenya. The
government estimates the population of Mwingi district to be 303,828 individuals with a
population density of 30. Migwani location hosts 56,907 individual and while the district
is relatively sparsely populated, Migwani has a population density of 101 people
according to the 1999 Census. 88.4 % of the Eastern Province relies on farming with 3.3
Million acres in the province under crop production (mostly maize). Residents however
continue to face food poverty (ability to satisfy basic food requirements) due to failing
rain seasons. Co-ordination between government and the NGOs in the district is minimal
due to the limited number of the NGOs. The most prominent has been The Children’s

Christian Fund (CCF), which has helped in fee payment and food baskets to schools and
individual student families. Two new agencies, Twana Twitu and Child Focus Afrika
(CFA) have recently registered in the location and are yet to establish themselves fully in
the field of child empowerment or impacting the education sector. Various residents
however continue to sponsor and volunteer in these two agencies. Twana Twitu has
helped raise fees for various students while CFA manages the local HIV Voluntary
Counselling and Testing (VCT) Centre and engages the community in HIV counselling in
conjunction with the local churches and social youth groups. The Overall poverty in
Eastern province was estimated at 65.9 % in 2005 and 51.0 in 2006 (GoK,2006). Poverty
in Kenya remains a rural phenomenon and Migwani has not been spared.

1.1.2   Review of the Kenya Education System

Since independence in 1963, the Kenya government has faced the challenge of education
system through commissions, committees and task forces. The government addresses the
provision of education and training for all Kenyans as fundamental to the government’s
overall development strategy. Government views education as

        A long term objective to provide basic quality education to enhance Kenyans
        ability to preserve and utilize the environment for productive and sustainable
        livelihoods, to develop quality of the human race; to realise the universal access to
        education and training for all including the disadvantaged and the vulnerable and
        as a necessary tool for development and protection of the democratic institutions
        of human rights (MOEST, 2005 pp2).

The most significant government reports and commissions include The Omide Report of
1964, The Gachathi Report of 1976, Mackay Report of 1981, Kamuge Report of 1988
and The Koech Report of 2000. The initial reports aimed at policies fostering national
unity and creation of sufficient human capital and were adopted from the colonial
government. The reports in the 1980s were more focused on redefining education to
foster national unity, social, economic and cultural aspirations of Kenyans. Issues

concerning education financing, quality and relevance were introduced in the 1990s. In
2000, the Commission of Inquiry into the Education System of Kenya (The Koech
Report, 2000) recommended the Totally Integrated Quality Education and Training
(TIQET). It outlined ways and means of enabling education to facilitate lifelong learning,
national unity, and mutual social responsibility, accelerated industrial and technical
development, while responding to changing circumstances (MOEST, 2005). While the
government did not adopt the TIQET program, some of its core recommendations have
been adopted and implemented (such as curriculum rationalization).

In 2002, NARC government implemented the FPE policy, which was a campaign pledge
to the voters. The FPE initiative focuses on attaining EFA and in particular, Universal
Primary Education (UPE). “Key concerns are access, retention, equity, quality and
relevance and internal and external efficiencies within the education system (MOEST,
2005a, pp3)”. Through the FPE policy, the NARC government is scrutinizing the current
    8-4-4 systems, which had previously been coupled with retention and reduced enrolment
before it came to power. The government’s focus is also on “quality education and
training as a human right in accordance to Kenya law and international conventions. The
FPE implementation in 2003 is critical to attaining the EFA as a key objective to
realizing the UPE goal (MOEST, 2005 pp3)”.
The goal of the current government is to have education and training for development
translated Elimu Bora Kwa Maendeleo. The MOEST is mandated with this mission and it
works with the stakeholders,
           …To provide, promote and coordinate quality lifelong education training and
          research for Kenyans sustainable development and responsible citizenry .The
          ministry is responsible for providing appropriate regulatory framework, develop
          policies and guidelines, provide support, mobilize resources for education sector
          inputs and coordinate human capital development through education and training.
          The overall goal of MOEST and the government is to achieve EFA by 2015 in
          tandem with international commitments (MOEST, 2005 pp28).

The current education system consists of Early Childhood Education (ECE), primary and
secondary education. ECE takes one year. At the end of the primary education, pupils sit

 8-4-4 System: Current education system in Kenya that consists of eight years of primary school, four
years in secondary school and then four years in university.

for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) prepared by the Kenya National
Examination Council (KNEC). Performance in the KCPE determines who is admitted to
secondary schools. At the end of secondary education, students sit for the Kenya
Certificate of Secondary Education, also administered by the KNEC. The Joint
Admissions Board (JAB) is responsible for selecting students to joining public
universities. Students can apply directly to private universities, which are guided by the
Commission for Higher Education (CHE). There are departments at the MOEST
headquarters and within the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) management that are
responsible for coordinating and preparing curriculum for special needs education.
MOEST also manages teacher training. “Special education suffers from inadequate
funding, lack of clear policy framework, low progress in assessing and placing children
with disabilities, few qualified teachers to handle children with special needs, lack of
teaching and learning resources among others (UNESCO, 2006, pp28)”.

Macro economic and demographic factors have an impact on the income, growth
potential, population and public sector performance. They play vital roles in respect to
education and training in Kenya. While they contribute to national development, they
have also imposed constraints on the education sector development. The poor economic
performance in Kenya has led to rising poverty levels which impact negatively on
education performance indicators. The population living in poverty had risen from
48.8% in 1990 to 56.8 % in 2004 (MOEST, 2005). The government plans to reduce
poverty by 50 % in 2015 as stipulated in the MDG s Economic Strategy Paper of 2003.
Poor economic performance has reduced schools General Enrolment Rate (GER) from
105.4% in 1989 to 87.6% in 2002. This has risen to 99% after FPE implementation in
2003 (MOEST, 2005). A steady growth rate of 6.6% is desirable in order to achieve the
MDG goals and the current growth rate in Kenya is 4.4 %. (Presidential Speech, Kenyatta
Day Celebration, October 20, 2007).

Schools Management Committees (SMC) feel that they are seriously constrained to
improve the state of learning facilities due to the government's ban on any additional
school levies. At the same time, conditions laid down to request for approvals to institute

new levies are so cumbersome that they hesitate to embark on the process. Nyamute
(2006) notes that the current cost of FPE is beyond the normal education budget
allocation. The fact that the country's economy had not been performing as expected in
recent year’s means that it cannot support the realization of the UPE goals without the
infusion of outside funds. Although FPE is a major step in ensuring EFA, for the country
to sustain universal access, there will be a need for accelerated economic growth to
generate public funds for education. Otherwise, prioritising UPE is most likely to take
away from the provision for other sectors of education as well as from other social
sectors, such as health. Ayieke A (2005) adds that,

       After the initial euphoria, it was noticed that there was lack of sustained and comprehensive
       communications strategy for FPE. There was lack of consultation and information on the
       roles of various key stakeholders. As a result of this, there is confusion amongst teachers,
       parents, school committee members, sponsors and local donors. At the same time, there was
       lack of clear guidelines as far as FPE was concerned, and many issues were rushed without
       these being addressed adequately.

1.2 Research Aim and Objectives

The aim of this research is to assess the impact and sustainability of FPE in Migwani
division. FPE has been implemented in Kenya in the past five years. The government has
continuously claimed that the policy is a success and has demonstrated this through
quoting the increase in enrolment figures, additional books and instructional materials in
schools and the increase on the government budget towards the education sector.
The objectives of the research will be to:

   •     Ascertain how the policy has been implemented
   •     Record the challenges and achievements of FPE.
   •     Identify key funding sources for the policy.
   •     Document the performance of and quality of education under the new policy,
         through verifiable indicators.

The research will review the trends and themes from the data collected during the study
on available indicators on student enrolment, schools performance and funding. The
research will seek to answer the following questions:
   •   Has enrolment increased or decreased since the policy introduction and what are
       the causes?
   •   How has quality of education been affected by the new policy in relation to
       enrolments and introduction of additional instructional materials?
   •   What are the funding sources for the policy and what’s the sustainability?

By assessing the overall impact of the policy, the researcher intends to highlight on gaps
in the policy and further the debate on how the different stakeholders can perform/are
performing to fill these.

1.5 Research Methodology

The research paper was undertaken in two parts and does not seek to dwell on past
deficiencies and inequalities (which have been sufficiently covered elsewhere). The
writer acknowledges that identifying ways of improving policy and to help achieve the
governments UPE and MDG goals can only be done through critical analysis of past
policies and consultative approach with the communities in the study. The study
comprises of a literature review carried out in the United Kingdom and in Kenya and
most important, information from interviews carried out during contact with the case
studies. The research started in Oxford, case studies were conducted in Kenya and the
paper was written partly in Kenya and completed in Canada.

To assess the impact of the FPE policy, the research required that the writer interview the
beneficiaries and the stakeholders of the policy. Data from schools, government offices
and reports on FPE were also a requirement, which would later assist in comparisons,
discussion and analysis of the policy. These requirements led to the selection of both

qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. The primary data for the research
was obtained from the case studies through semi-structured interviews. The author opted
not to use tape recorders during the interviews, as they tend to prompt self-censoring on
some respondents. By conducting face-to-face interviews, the writer interviewed seven
head teachers, two deputy head teachers, sixteen individual students, two student groups
(sixteen pupils each), seven community members and four government administrators.
Two of the community respondents were also members of SMCs. The semi-structured
interviews allowed the respondents a leeway on responses and allowed the interviewer to
pickup on other issues raised by respondents while keeping research objectives in mind.
Some of the students were shy and had never been interviewed before, forcing the
researcher to engage more in rapport building. For these children, the free narrative
approach of interviewing was used. First, the writer allowed the children to express their
thoughts and experiences freely about FPE, then asked questions and clarifications later,
through appropriate probing techniques. Secondary data was collected from school
enrolment and funding reports, ministry of education statistics, census, legal instruments,
newspaper articles and previous reports.

Data collected was analysed into charts and tables for interpretation. Through
comparison, interview results and data from different schools were linked together to
help in identifying common themes affecting enrolment, funding and impacts on the
policy. The literature review gathered from the Oxford Brookes, Macmillan and the
University of Nairobi libraries plus the author’s notes are also used in the final discussion
and help in making conclusions and recommendations at the end of the paper. During the
research period, the writer took an internship with the UNICEF Regional Office in
Nairobi. This provided the author with an opportunity to learn more about UNICEF’s
interventions in the area of education and gave him access to the UN Library. The World
Wide Web, the local dailies and reports published in Kenya were also reviewed to
strengthen the writer’s base knowledge on the research topic.

Ten selected schools in Migwani districts became the case studies for this research, which
also included community members and government representatives. Migwani Location

has twelve primary schools, all spread within the four-sub locations. The writer visited
ten schools within Migwani, covering each sub location.

1.6 Research Design

The paper begins with a review of the Kenya education system after an introductory
background of Kenya. It gives an overview of the political, social and economic position
of the country. The background includes a brief overview of Migwani location touching
on matters relevant to the education sector. The literature review leads the reader to
understand the Kenya setting and the rationale behind the FPE policy. While keeping a
focus on impact and sustainability, the research reviews challenges and achievements in
the schools under the study. The data from different schools (through interviews,
observation and secondary sources) will help in the comparative study of the effects from
the FPE challenges and will later be critically analysed. Data and information gathered
from the schools themselves and the government representatives’ offer the comparative
component in the research and helps enlighten on the reality on the ground as set out in
the discussion chapter. The writer later analyses these, comparing common themes and
differences to offer recommendations. This paper will seek to positively reinforce the
good practices while seeking to influence policy change on the gaps in the area of
government and stakeholders’ roles.

1.7   Selection of Case Studies

The research focuses on Migwani location of Mwingi district. Migwani Location has a
population of 56,907 residents and is the second largest location in Mwingi after Mwingi
central which has 83,000 residents (GOK, 1999). Migwani has four sub locations mainly
Itoloni, Kyamboo, Kangutheni and Migwani (the largest). The schools in the study

represent all the sub locations, which have an average of three schools each. All school
are public mixed boys and girls’ primary schools and, are day schools. One of the
selected schools in the study has the only unit for special education students in the
division and hosts forty-two pupils in the same compound with the other regular pupils.
The schools are selected due to their ideal demographic settings as they are spread
within/cover the whole region. The schools also range from newly developed schools like
Kalembwa to the very old Migwani AIC School. While all schools have been adapted to
government public schools now, their backgrounds range from religious, community
(Harrambee), government and missionary sponsored schools. The region is also selected
to re-evaluate the notion that (due to limited funding) only government urban schools
suffer more due to expenses in the urban area in procurement and service charges

1.8 Limitations of the Study

The first major challenge at the beginning of the research was availability of current
literature on the Kenya Education system in the libraries. Though the writer had access to
the best libraries in Nairobi, they did not have literature on FPE. Most of the articles and
books were with the Ministry of Education and the provincial administration, but limited
in copies. Through special agreements with the government counterparts and education
resource centres, the writer was able to sign out books for a few days for his review.
Another limitation was the fact that special authorisation to gain access to government
data or conduct interviews with any of the respondents was required and this took time.
The writer was repeatedly referred from one office to another, and finally to the District
headquarters. The access issue was compounded by the fact that it was an election year
with a few months to the polls and there was uncertainty on the government part as to
how the research results would be utilised. The fact that the writer was related to a local
politician of an opposition party may have also created some bias, intended or
unintended. Though it took a while, access was granted and full cooperation was

accorded by the local administration. There are no libraries in Migwani and so the writer
relied on data stored at the Migwani Resource Centre.

Kambas are generally very reserved people and can be very self-censoring. It is
culturally hard for Kambas to say no or give negative information about others or
situations. The writer had to invest extra time in rapport building and rephrasing
questions to get information from some respondents. Some pupils were very shy and
could not be interviewed individually, resulting to group interviews in some schools.
Another obstacle was the availability of some of the school heads, teaching staff and
pupils. This was due to the on going school examinations in the region. The research was
conducted in the busiest semester in the Kenya education system and in all visited
schools; internal examinations in preparation for the national exams were ongoing. Some
interviews had to be rescheduling while others were conducted after official teaching
hours. Most of the interviews were conducted between 3.30 pm and 5.00 pm. In order not
to compromise the research, very few interviews were held per day, with the writer
opting to make several visits to each school until the interviews were completed. Due to
poor storage, absence of some head teachers or improper filing methods, some data was
incomplete lost or could not be located in some schools. Some students were interviewed
at their homes and a few students at the market place. The research was also perceived, as
intrusive/invasive especially when questions on funding were raised. Some respondents
did not understand English and the local Kamba language had to be used. Though the
writer is from the region and has a good command of the language, not all Kamba words
have an equivalent English translation. It is possible that some of the expressions and
information may have been lost in translation. The writer was however able to overcome
all these limitations and use available data and time to complete the study successfully
and achieve the research objectives.

1.9 Organisation of the Study

The study will begin by reviewing the approaches used in implementing the FPE policy
and dwell on the ongoing challenges and successes. The literature review focuses on the
background of the education system and how it has changed to the current, including
what factors has influenced the government stand, political pressure and need to conform
to the UN to achieve the MDG. Selected cases studies will highlight the gaps in the FPE
policy and how the community and schools are working together to ensure each child
gets a free education. The interviews with teachers, student, parent s and community
members provide views and data which has enabled the writer to arrive at logical
conclusions on how effective FPE has been in Migwani, future prospects and how it fits
in the governments overall UPE goal.

Chapter Two

2.1    Literature Review

A few countries in Africa have implemented the free education policy before Kenya with
mixed cases of success, problems and challenges. Some countries have challenged the
policy, with Nigerians labelling UPE in the 1980 as the Unfulfilled Promise Education
(Csapo, 1983). Understanding the factors that lead them to adopt this policy will be an
important aspect of this study. To review the impact of the policy in Kenya, it will be
vital to look at the history of the education system, the government motivation towards
the policy changes, the effects on funding, access to education and the quality of
education. It will be necessary also to review experiences of countries already operating
the new policy.

The initial adjustment and revitalisation of education in Kenya in early 1980s was due to
internal and external forces. The World Bank and the international community wanted
the government to cut expenditure and adhere to structural adjustments programs while
the social sector oriented professionals (including teachers) wanted allocation of more
resources to make education more effective (IPAR, 1999). The world conference on EFA
held in Jomtien, Thailand and the Dakar Conference, in Senegal (2000) have sparked a
paradigm shift in the education sector. Education quality and gender disparity have been
barriers to accessing education (Boyle et al, 2002). “For every 100 boys out of school,
there are 115 girls in the same situation (State of Worlds Children 2006, pp4)”. UNICEF
notes sadly that one out of every five girls in school is unable to complete primary
education; moreover, countries charging fees tend to have the largest number of girls out
of schools (Save the Children, 2005). The government argues that compulsory FPE is the
first solution to ensuring an equal chance to boys and girls to attend schools.

UPE has, since 2000, been a goal for most countries worldwide. World Bank (2004)
notes that when fees were abolished in Malawi (1994), enrolments went up by 51% and

in Uganda they went up in by 70% in 1996. Cameroon (1999) saw an increase from 88%
to 105% while in Tanzania (2001); rates soared from 57% to 85%. In Kenya, the rates
went up by 90% after the new policy was introduced in 2003 (MOEST, 2005). Though
the government continues to quote these success figures, dropouts’ rates in public
primary schools have increased due to unfriendly learning environments, poverty levels,
child labour and impact of HIV/AIDS (Ayieke, A. 2005). Other factors affecting
enrolment include limited number of schools within easy walking distance, absence of
female teachers and failure to provide separate toilet for female students (World Bank,
2004). Limited numbers of schools offering the full cycle of primary education and
perceived low returns for schooling in labour markets are other factors. The current FPE
system suffers from “high rates of wastage through dropouts and repetitions (GoK, 2005
pg 3)”.

Lessons from massive expansions of primary schools in the 1980s and 1990s show that
expanding rapidly can compromise quality, reflected in high enrolments but low
achievements (WDR, 2007). After the introduction of FPE in Kenya, an additional 1.5
million students were able to attend schools for the first time (MOEST, 2005). The World
Bank emphasizes on improving the balance between expanding primary education
enrolment and ensuring a minimum standard. While citing the cases of Morocco and
Namibia, it stated that, “many of the large number of adolescents completing primary
education do not know enough to be literate and numerate members of the society (WDR,
2007 pg 11)”. Congestion in classes, unbalanced PTR and poor infrastructure has affected
the quality of education with some parents moving children to private schools. Some
Kenyans believe that teachers who did not receive fees from parents did not feel as
accountable for working hard (Tooley J, 2004). While the government continues to
receive credit on the increase in enrolment and availability of textbooks in schools, with
pupil to textbook ratio at 2:1 in some schools (MOEST, 2005), the EFA global monitor
reports that the quality of education remains poor in most in sub-Saharan countries
including Kenya. Nigeria has implemented FPE on and off since the 1950s and by 2003,
literacy level was still at 55% (Ajetomobi J and Anyanwale A, 2005).

Many African countries including Kenya are heavily indebted, forcing them to devote
huge portions of the tax receipts to payment of debts. This undermines their ability to
finance vital investments in human capital and infrastructure. While the Kenyan
government has increased the education budget since FPE to 36%, around 90% of the
cost is spent on salaries and benefits, leaving very little for other essential inputs. On
average, governments in low-income countries spent 34 times more on students in
tertiary education than in primary education (Glewwe, P and Kremer, M. 2005). In
Kenya, there are complaints that FPE is getting more attention than universities where
enrolment exceeds resources and in postgraduate centres where students do not receive
research grants. As table 1 show, the government is already having financing gaps and
will rely on donor funding for the next three years.

Table 1: Indicative Financing Gap ( * KSH Million)
                           2005/06       2006/7       2007/8        2008/9     2009/10     Total
Net * GoK Recurrent
Funding                    86,792.0      91,131.6     95,688.2      99,515.7   103,496.4   476,623.9
GoK Development
Funding (Net)              842.0         842.0        842.0         842.0      842.0       4,210.0
Total GoK Funding          87,634.0      91,973.6     96530.2       100357.7   104338.4    480833.9
Total Donor Funding        6,979.1       6546.5       4557.7        2350.0     1708.4      22141.7
Funding Available          94,613.1      98520.1      101087.9      102707.7   106046.7    502975.5
Total Proposed
Investment                 96,544.9      105338.0     112628.5      113343.0   115557.2    543411.6
Financing Gap              1931.9        6817.9       11540.5       10635.3    9510.5      40436.1
Source: Government of Kenya: MOEST, KSSP

“Without additional investments… a quality education is difficult to achieve and dropout
rates and illiteracy are likely to increase (GoK, 2005 pg 2)”. In 2005, the majority of
voters in Kenya rejected a draft constitution, which could have entrenched human rights

    GoK: Government of Kenya
    KSH: Kenya Shilling. At the time of the study, 1 US Dollar ($)= 65 KSH

guarantees including education. While the previous government of Moi was targeted by
aid cut offs and often because of corruption (State of the Right of Education Worldwide,
2006), it is impossible to tell whether this government will continue to receive external
funding with its record. Previous school levies included, registration fees, textbooks,
activity fee, caution money, payments for teachers /support staff hired by school
committees, development funds, school trips, teachers tours and internal exam fees. The
new policy only covers textbooks and tuition fees. While it has discouraged schools from
charging other expenses, school committees are having problems supplementing these
other costs. Parents have refused to pay levies due to this notion of free education. The
current education is not totally free. Kattan (2006) notes that fees continue to be collected
(sometimes illegally) in a third of the countries with an official policy against fees.
“Because public funding was/and is insufficient to cover for direct and indirect costs of
schools [in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Mauritania], the definition of free education
was reduced to fee free” education (Tomasevski, 2006 pg35). Kenya abolished school
levies since 2003 and has seen an upsurge in GER as in the case of its neighbours;
Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda. User fees negatively affect attendance rates in
Kenyan schools with 31% of student’s absenteeism attributed to school fee related issues
(Mukudi, 2004b). The World Bank urges that abolishing fees should be part of a broader
government commitment to attaining FPE.

As a United Nations (UN) cluster lead agency in children’s affairs, UNICEF has engaged
in all means of partnership to raise awareness and fundraise for education projects. These
collaborative advocacy campaigns have led to the emergence of philanthropists
including, soccer players like Didier Drogba (UNICEF Goodwill ambassadors), and actor
Angelina Jollie (UNHCR goodwill ambassador) and renowned talk show host Oprah
Winfrey. Though they contribute to the education sector, partnerships with governments
would have boosted the FPE kitty and had more impact on the new policy. Governments
need complementary measures to cover costs of teachers’ remunerations and recruitment,
monitoring, policy training and supply of instructional materials. UNICEF Kenya
earmarked 1.5 million USD in 2007 for education related expenses as part of the “2004-
2008 country framework cooperation (Humanitarian Report, 2007 pp71: 73)”. These

efforts reinforce the importance of education and take the challenge to the doorsteps of
governments who are obligated to developing this important education sector.

The Shanghai conference of 2004 on Primary Education for Poverty Reduction concurred
that most government policies on FPE were political initiatives implemented hurriedly
with little time for detailed planning. Kenya, Malawi and Lesotho were cited as emergent
multiparty democracies where FPE was a key election issue that propelled new
governments into power. The Malawi president pushed for FPE despite opposition and
suggestions that to implement it in phases. He claimed FPE would provide immediate
political capital, regime legitimacy and was the surest route for the new government,
which had inherited a bankrupt state to secure rapid extensive state-directed international
support (Kendall, 2007). In Tanzania, zone workshops for elaboration of the poverty
reduction strategy plans allowed Tanzanians a channel to express the importance of
education and helped government make it a priority. Tanzanians in earlier FPE trials in
1970s had labelled the UPE policy “Ualimu Pasipo Elimu” which means Teaching
without Education (Wedgwood, 2007 pg 386)”. This more recent participatory nature of
decision-making in Tanzania has made parents more supportive of the system and
reduced misconceptions. The Kenya government formed a stakeholder’s forum, which
later formed a task force that discussed/reviewed the FPE policy and reported to the
government (Tomasevksi, 2006). UPE in Kenya “was a political expediency rather than a
planned education reform… as such, problems related to adequate funding allocations are
being accommodated in an ad hoc manner (Mukudi, 2004a pg 239)”. The Kenya FPE
raises questions of sustainability due to its lack of appropriate planning, slowness to
deliver, poor quality of education and the failure to incorporate the lessons learned in the
past five years.

Conflict has been a major obstacle to accessing education for children. Children caught in
conflicts are killed, forcibly recruited or orphaned by the death of their parents forcing
them to flee. They end up in separated families, camp situations and /or traumatised
situation. The first Global Consultation on Education in Emergencies was held in 2004
and was meant to provide guidelines to countries and agencies in conflict or post conflict

situation. On 20 November 2007, UNICEF appointed Mr Ishmael Beah (a former child
soldier) as the first advocate for children affected with war. His mission is to further
strengthen the voice advocating for their rights. Conflict in the Arid and Semi Arid lands
(ASAL) of North Eastern Kenya is widespread and often overlaps with extreme food
insecurity. It is mainly triggered by competition for resources. There is clear evidence
that despite government intentions, most pastoralists’ children are not benefiting from
FPE (CEMIRIDE, 2007). The government estimates 71,000 were out of schools in
Turkana district, 25,000 in Samburu and 3,800 in Laikipia (IRIN, 2007). While some
people view peace negotiations as priority over education to avoid wasting resources,
there are questions as to “whether a standardized education system is beneficial to
pastoralists and whether it would be necessary to provide pastoralists with education that
suites their pastoral and nomadic livelihood system (CEMIRIDE, 2007 pg 5)”. Children
affected by conflict “not only need ordinary schooling but the entire process of re-
education. They tend to be ignored by ministries of education and taken up by NGOs
(UNESCO 2006 pp6)”.

The World Bank has supported education for all by joining programmes accredited to
enhancing equality and access to education including the Food For Education (FFE)
programmes whose initial success were recorded between 1993 and 2000 (UNICEF,
2006). Through the FFE program, schools receive wheat grains, which are used in school
feeding. FFE has increased GER, promoted attendance and retention in primary schools.
Evidence suggests that retention in schools reduces early marriages. Borrowing from
these successes, the Kenya government runs feeding programmes within the FPE in
schools in ASAL and implements the Extended Feeding Program (EFP) to any region
experiencing droughts, famine or needing assistance. Some critics argue that the
government should focus on food security projects rather than school feeding
programmes. They argue that feeding children in schools only creates a dependency and
most of these children eventually dropout of schools when the feeding programmes are

2.1.1   Rights of the Child

        “… A child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless
        under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier” (Article 1: CRC,

Kenya recognizes a child as anyone less than eighteen years of age (Children Act, 2001).
The UN General Assembly proclaims the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(UDHR) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations, to the end
that each individual or nation shall keep the declaration constantly in mind and strive to
promote respect for these rights and freedoms and to secure their effective recognition
and observance (UDHR, 1948). The Kenya law relating to education and children
compliments the basic principals of the UDHR.

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Kenya
is signatory to the following legal instruments relating to the rights of the child; the
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ratified in July 1990; International
Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), ratified in 1972 and the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified 1972. The
Committee of the CRC report on Kenya (June 2007) acknowledges Kenya is also a
signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial
Discrimination (ICEAD), in 2001; the ILO Convention NO.182 Concerning the
Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child
Labour, in 2001; Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict,
2002 and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking, Especially Women
and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transitional
Organized Crime, in 2005.

The common understanding within all the covenants and basic guideline while working
with children is the basic principle that “in all actions concerning children, the best
interest of the child shall be a primary consideration (CRC, Article 3)”. While all major

conventions have sections regarding the rights and obligations to children, the CRC is
entirely dedicated to children rights. In most societies, children are considered as the
most important members of the family. The family is considered as the basic/natural
fundamental group unit of society and governments are obliged to offer support,
protection and assistance (ICESCR, article 10; ICCPR article 23 and 24). Education is the
key to preparing the child to an individual life, mental and social development. Per the
CRC, children have a right to free and compulsory primary education (article 13)
including the mentally or physically disabled (article 23). The CRC is the most ratified
covenant with only two countries left to sign it. It covers issues such as the definitions of
who is a child, parent’s responsibilities, right to nationality, names, education, health,
legal protection and social development to protection against exploitation, and forced
military enlistment/ recruitments. It emphasizes on the dissemination of information and
cooperation among agencies working with children.

In the region, Kenya was a signatory to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of
the Child, in July 2000. It established the National Council of Children Services in 2000,
the Sexual Offences Act and the Refugee Act in 2006. The Committee on the Convention
on the Rights of Children (CRC) commended these actions in its forty-fourth session as
major steps towards protection of children’s rights.

To achieve the rights of the children, UN member countries are currently committed
(from targets set in 1990) to reducing poverty, promoting education, gender equality,
child mortality, maternal health and reduce AIDS and other diseases through the MDG.
The second goal of the MDG is to ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of
primary education. The MDGs are commitments (through global partnership) that
reinforce the stipulations in the regional and international conventions. While poor
countries have promised to govern better, the rich have promised to support them through
aid, debt relief and fair trade. The UN Secretary General believes that the goals are
achievable through working together. The Dakar Framework for Action, conceptualized
in Senegal in 2000, sets regional goals for countries including EFA by 2005 and UPE by
2015. Through regional dialogue, countries having similar problems are able to come up

with solutions and strategies in their own context to enhance their commitment to
preserving children’s rights and promoting their development.

The Education Act Cap 211 of 1968 (Revised in 1970/1980) is the main legal document
in Kenya governing education. It covers administration issues, management and
curriculum development. The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Act Cap 212 of 1967
not only covers remuneration and other admin issues but stresses on professional
conduct. This act protects children from all forms of exploitation including sexual
harassment. The KNEC Act Cap 225a of 1980 stipulates the conduct during public
examinations, certification of schools and offers instructions on how to file complains
related to review examinations adjudications among other students’ rights.

2.1.2   Free Primary Education and its Rationale

After attaining independence in 1963, the prioritisation of the education policies in Kenya
was driven by the manpower needs of the nation. The government identified ignorance
and illiteracy as major problems and education was meant to tackle this area. This meant
access to primary education. Individuals who had completed secondary education secured
many government positions and were considered to be among the Kenyan elite (Oketch.O
and Rollestone M. 2007). The immediate emphasis on developing secondary and tertiary
level institutions to meet the manpower needs led to the need for more primary schools.
Access to primary schools was limited by the colonial government and completion
further hampered by the policies and compulsory national examinations as early as grade
four. To gain legitimacy and as a political move to reassure the people of its authority,
primary education was open to all by the new government and the grade four
examinations abolished. Since then, policies have been pursued to facilitate rapid access
for those who had been excluded. “Independence was the first catalyst which triggered a
commitment towards UPE in Kenya (Oketch.O and Rollestone M. 2007 pp14)”.

The overall goal of FPE is to build the human capital capacity through investing in
children at an early age. Basic skills not only help individuals but also have an impact on
the income, growth potential, population and public sector performance. In Nigeria in the
1970s, FPE was driven by the need to produce skilled manpower (Kelly, G. 1983). The
government realizes that education and training will contribute to national development.
Economic difficulties have denied many Kenyan children education. The poor economic
performance in Kenya has led to rising poverty levels which impact negatively on
education performance indicators. By offering FPE the government is making a link
between education and economic development.

       Everyone has a right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the
       elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.
       (UDHR, 1948: Article 26)

The MOEST gives guidelines on FPE policies, which are channelled down to the School
Management Committees (SMC). MOEST also advises on teachers, parents and students
roles. The District Education Officer (DEO) is in charge of education matters in the
district and is assisted by the Area Education Officers (AEO) in the various divisions in
the district. The Teacher Advisory Committee (TAC) has been set up to play an advisory
role to the teachers and the SMC. Under FPE policy, the teachers’ role is curriculum
implementation as per the approved syllabus. Teachers also support school management
through membership in the SMC. Parents are regarded as stakeholders in the new policy.
Parents are to assist in school management through PTA meetings and the board
membership; they are to assist in providing physical infrastructure, which is not offered
by government under FPE. Parents are also called upon to help in counselling and
instilling discipline to the pupils. The SMC is responsible for managing funds, settling
disputes in the school or making recommendations to the DEO, conducting tendering
interviews/approvals for supplies and receiving school supplies.

The MOEST gives guidelines on recommended textbooks under the approved syllabus.
The DEO receives monthly enrolment figures from schools, which are then used to
determine funding. Under FPE, each school receives Kenya shillings (KSH) 1,020 (USD
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