By Anthony M. Wanjohi:
The government of Kenya introduced Free Primary Education (FPE ) following Education For All (EFA) call to attain universal education for all by 2015 in line with the International Community’s commitments and obligations as agreed in Jomtien in 1990 and reaffirmed in Dakar in 2000.
For a long period of time, Kenyans desired universal primary education and the issue preoccupied both the Government and the people of Kenya since Independence (Sifuna, 1990). While the Government looked at providing universal education as a long-term objective, the people of Kenya wanted it immediately ( Oketch and Rolleston, 2007). But this was not realized till the year 2003 when NARC government took over from KANU regime (UNESCO, 2005).
Since the introduction of FPE, there has been various issues affecting education in Kenya:
Increase in enrollment rate
While increase in enrollment rate is positive, it brought about constraints on the scarce teaching and learning resources.
Teacher supply and demand
With increased enrollment rates in primary schools, sustained teacher supply remains critical. The government of Kenya has not been able to keep up with the pace of maintaining the balance between teacher demand and supply. Teacher supply remains the most critical problem not only in Kenya but also in Sub-Saharan Africa where an estimated 3.8 million additional posts must be recruited and trained by the year 2015. In Kenya today, teacher-pupil ratio is still high and teacher demand and supply remain a major issue.
With the introduction of FPE, Kenya’a education system continued to face a number of resource-based challenges including human, physical and financial resources.
With myriad issues facing Free Primary Education in Kenya today, there is need to take stock of its implementation process and to seek measures to address the most critical issues facing the FPE policy. The main concern in education today should thus not be about access but quality education.