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The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Education System in Kenya, 1998


 

Executive Summary

 

1. The Commission of  Inquiry into the Education System of Kenya was appointed by H.E. The President under Gazette Notices numbers 2291 and 2292 dated 14th May 1998. The terms of reference accompanying the appointment were comprehensive in their coverage of issues relating to the goals, objectives, the structure and content, management and co-ordination, and financing of education at all levels. The Commission was, in particular, mandated to recommend ways and means of enabling the education system to facilitate national unity, mutual social responsibility, accelerated industrial and technological development, life-long learning and adaptation in response to changing circumstances.

 

2. The Commission revisited the historical development of education in Kenya and concluded that since time immemorial, education had been intimately associated with social and economic development. Pre-colonial education was, therefore, provided within the context of social and economic organization. It was inclusive and relevant along age group and gender lines. Colonial education on the other hand was exclusive and organized along racial lines with the few Africans receiving an education conceived to be inferior. The dawn of independence brought with it great enthusiasm for education which led to phenomenal growth in education at all levels, following the recommendations of the first Commission on Education in 1964. During the intervening period, several changes have occurred in response to emerging social and economic needs of the nation.

 

3. In undertaking its challenging assignment, the Commission adopted a comprehensive multi-strategic approach in order to facilitate the participation of as many Kenyans as possible in the Inquiry. This approach included:

 

3.1 Review ofthe Education Act and all the other laws relating to education, and also compilation of over 1,000 recommendations made previously and review of their implementation status.

 

3.2 Compilation of a questionnaire based on the Commission's Terms of Reference which was distributed widely through the press, District Education offices and through the post to all relevant institutions, organizations and individuals. An impressive 3,500 questionnaires duly completed were received and then analyzed.

 

3.3 Visits to all districts in the country where interactive discussions were held with Kenyans of all walks of life including leaders, government officials, representatives of organizations and institutions both public and private, professional groups, parents, teachers and students, among other parties interested or involved in education.

3.4 Submissions from Parliamentary political parties.

 

3.5 Focused discussions with Permanent Secretaries and other senior officials from all government ministries, and more detailed discussions with the officials from the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.

 

3.6 Over 2,000 written memoranda submitted by members ofthe public.

 

3.7 Review of sessional papers and other reports since the first Education Commission (1964).

 

4. The Commission was satisfied that Kenyans were provided with ample opportunities to present their views and was indeed encouraged by the enthusiasm displayed by the public in the work ofthe Commission. Drawing from the submissions made, the Commission was impressed by the clarity of vision and articulation of issues, together with great concern of Kenyans over the education system. Among the conclusions arrived at by the Commission were that:

 

4.1 The national goals of education as they have evolved over the years are still valid, but their achievement has been hindered or limited by factors that could have been avoided, such as the implementation of the quota system for admission into the various categories of secondary schools, which worked counter to the goal of national unity.

 

4.2 There is need to strengthen the moral fabric of the nation through greater emphasis on Religious Education, and Social Education and Ethics, whose teaching should adopt a practical approach.

 

4.3 The anticipated growth of middle level colleges upon the abolition of A-levels did not happen. Instead, technical education took a downward trend and has been unable to provide the level and quality of technicians and artisans needed for the country's industrial take-off.

 

4.4 The poor co-ordination of education services in various ministries, and too much centralization of decision-making in formal education services at the headquarters of the Ministry of Education has hampered the growth and development of this sector.

 

4.5 The objectives ofthe 8+4+4 system of education were laudable but the implementation process was haphazard and lacking in several crucial ways, especially the initial lack of consultation with crucial stakeholders, and the poor monitoring to ensure the readiness of educational personnel and institutions for its successful implementation. This led to poor rendering of the practical orientation of the curriculum, and to requirements that were unaffordable to most parents. This, in turn, led to lower enrolments, high rates of drop-out and poor achievement because of increased rote-leaming rather than practical applicatioh. The content of the curriculum was over-loaded and impossible to cover within the specified academic years.

4.6 Early childhood education, education of leamers with special needs, and education in pockets of poverty and ASAL areas have largely been neglected in the implementation ofthe public policy on education.

 

4.7 The rate of student increase in the various public universities without complementary increases in facilities and staffing has contributed to the lowering of the quality of education at these institutions.

 

4.8 Poor linkages between educational institutions and industry has contributed to the lack of quality and relevance which in tum led to the slow rate of employment creation.

 

4.9 Some members of the public thought that all the problems associated with the 8+4+4 system of education would be solved by merely going back to the old 7+4+2+3 system. The Commission, however, believes that the solutions required to revamp the education system go beyond the mere structure.

 

4.10 The existing Education Act is out of date as it neglects crucial areas of education including Early Childhood Care, Development and Education, education for those with special education needs, and the role of Parents Associations.

 

5. The Commission identified various challenges facing the nation which any new education system must address. These include:

 

5.1 The challenge of providing quality education for all eligible learners within the existing and any other available resources;

 

5.2 The need to mobilize adequate resources additional to what the government can allocate to education, including liberalization of education, to mobilize effective partnerships with the private sector and other providers;

 

5.3 The devastating threat posed to the nation by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the need for the education system to target the youth for desirable behaviour change towards the eradication ofthe epidemic;

 

5.4 The challenge of industrialization that the country wishes to achieve by the year 2020 and the need for the education system to prepare the human resources that will determine the effective utilization of all other resources towards the achievement of this goal.

 

5.5 The importance of universities as assets for generating high level human resources essential for the envisaged industrial development, and hence the need for rejuvenating higher education, emphasizing the importance of research and its utilization for development.

 

5.6 The challenge of expanding alternative and continuing education programmes and orienting all Kenyans towards life-long education.

 

5.7 The need for a comprehensive and all-inclusive law on education and effective mechanisms for the management and co-ordination ofeducation.

6. Having reviewed all the submissions made and the challenges facing Kenya at the dawn of the 21st Century, the Commission proposes a new system of education with the conceptual title of "TOTALLY INTEGRATED QUALITY EDUCATION AND TRAINING (TIQET)" to replace the past numerical titles. TIQET as a concept embraces the values and the substance that should characterize an education system. It is TOTAL because it is inclusive, accommodative and life-long. It is INTEGRATED in the way it approaches the learning process as part and parcel of life. It stands for inter-sectoral linkages and logical progression between one level of education to another. It focuses on the QUALITY of delivery and outcome of the education and training processes. It is a superior concept and easy to popularize among Kenyans, compared to mere numerical titles. It has the same sound as in "TICKET" and bears the same symbolic meaning, as it is associated with a means to an end. In this context, education becomes a ticket to a better life, and a better future for the individual, the community and the nation; a ticket to the achievement of Kenya's social and economic goals.

 

7. More importantly, the proposed TIQET system includes significant changes in the structure and organization of education. Among the hallmarks of TIQET are:

 

7.1 The expansion of access to basic education from 8 to 12 years, which means that every Kenyan child will eventually have the opportunity to attain the minimum of secondary level education without undergoing restrictive or selective examinations.

7.2 Potential for eliminating existing disparities m education such as those based on geographical factors, social and gender issues, by providing a universal and compulsory Basic Education over a planned period of time with special measures for addressing the needs of previously disadvantaged groups, especially those with special leaming needs. This will lead to the achievement of equity in education.

 

7.3 Expansion of opportunities at the post-secondary level so that learners can have flexibility in the pursuit of further studies.

7.4  Introduction of modular or unit learning approach and credit accumulation in post-secondary education which allows for credit transfer from one institution or level to another, and for facilitating points of exit and re-entry as appropriate.

 

7.5 Introduction of limitless opportunities for access to education through expanded alterative and continuing education.

 

7.6 Introduction ofa manageable curriculum content at all levels of education that does not overburden the learners and educators.

 

7.7 A comprehensive ne\v legal framework that addresses previously omitted aspects of education such as Early Childhood Care, Development and Education, Special Education and technical education, and which creates new agencies charged with the delivery and co-ordination of education services. This is presented by way of draft bills for a new Education Act, ne\v laws and amendments to other laws related to education. It is hoped that this will accelerate the process of implementation

  

8. The Commission has made recommendations under different chapter headings. These recommendations have been synthesized. harmonized and presented collectively in the implementation process as legal and policy frameworks, and plan of action.

 

9. The TIQET system is thus unique in the way it is accompanied by a Plan of Action with target dates for a gradual implementation which also allows for adequate time for the mobilization of resources and partnerships necessary for its success.

 

10. The Commission is convinced that. with the goodwill of all stake-holders, TIQET is the education system Kenya needs and deserves in the 21 st Century and the Third Millennium.

 

11. It is this system of Totally Integrated Quality Education and Training, TIQET, that the Commission recommends to the Nation.