Wednesday, July 1, 2015

5 Things You Need to Know About Kenya's School System: Part 1

For those of you who may have missed it, one of our last posts highlighted our EPN hero Lilly Oyare. Her school, the Little Rock Inclusive Early Childhood Development Centre, provides children in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya with pre-school education, plus a wide range of activities for primary school students including after school tutoring paid for by Eliminate Poverty NOW, and scholarships to secondary school. 

If you are anything like me, you might need some background on the differences between Kenya's educational system and our own to really see what Little Rock is doing, and why the school is so important.

So just to give a fuller picture of what makes Lilly's work so amazing, in 2 parts, here are 5 Things You Need to Know About Kenya's School System:

1. Primary school, even public ones, can be very expensive. 

On paper, Kenya may be closer than any other Sub-Saharan nation to universal primary education. Primary school fees were technically abolished in 2013. However, many small fees make it difficult or impossible for poor families to keep up with the cost of schooling. Parents often can't afford the school uniforms, textbooks, transport, meals and supplies. All of these are required for students to attend school, and without them, some students may never get into primary school, and others eventually drop out.

2. Secondary school is even MORE expensive than primary. 

While primary school is at least free by law, secondary school is not. In fact, it is quite expensive. Only 55% of primary school graduates continue on to secondary school.  For those who do, tuition, room and board, and additional fees account for about 55% of household expenditures for the average Kenyan family.  

3. Beyond primary school, students must qualify for secondary schools, and compete for scholarships.

To qualify for a slot in secondary school, students must demonstrate that they have sufficiently learned the basic skills in primary school. Data show that 77 percent of private school candidates qualified for secondary school, while only 45 percent of students in the public schools qualified. As in many cases globally, family wealth and test scores are related. Children who attend private primary schools have the best teachers and resources and are much better prepared to compete for the next-level scholarships. This makes an uneven playing field even steeper for students raised in poverty. 

We share these points to say Lilly's work is great in itself, and certainly inspiring. But we really began to appreciate what she is doing at Little Rock after better understanding the education system in Kenya. By providing high quality early childhood education, Lilly ensures that many of the children living in Kibera learn the crucial skills necessary for academic success in primary school and beyond. 

What questions about Kenya's school system do you have? Do you see the work of Lilly, Little Rock, or EPN in a new light? What other thoughts do you have? I Share in the comments below!

As we mentioned, there is still much more to come-the transitions for young students from Kibera can be quite challenging for reasons like language and culture barriers...we'll explain more soon! But be sure to share your thoughts on this post, and look out for our next post as we share a few more thoughts on Lilly's work in Kenya's school system.

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