Kenya can reap education dividend


Despite positive news and the talk of an African “renaissance,” many still doubt whether the continent is ready for take-off. Rapid population growth and the resulting “youth bulge” remain major concerns in a context of widespread un(der)employment. How can a country like Kenya create one million jobs each year, just to accommodate new entrants into the labour force?

But young people don’t just need jobs, they also create them. Therefore, what matters most is to make sure that the education system delivers the skills needed in emerging economies, and incubates entrepreneurs.

In turn, as people become more educated and healthier, they will have fewer children. This is already happening: As Kenya continues to welcome about a million new citizens each year, family size is slowly declining.

This creates the possibility of a “demographic dividend”, similar to what underpinned economic take-off in other parts of the world. Today, Kenya has more adults than children, more potential workers than dependants, and an increasingly urban population.

At the time of Independence, most adult Kenyans had received no formal education. Since then, there have been two statistical watershed moments, and more to come.

Almost mechanically, this frees up resources: if families have higher incomes but fewer children, each child receives more attention (personal and financial). Nationwide, the demographic dividend can translate into an education dividend as well. And education matters: as it is one of the single most powerful predictors of future income and social mobility.

Using new statistical methods, the Vienna-based Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital has produced some fascinating analysis, which projects education attainment into the future. According to these projections, Kenya’s education landscape is changing rapidly.

At the time of Independence, most adult Kenyans had received no formal education. Since then, there have been two statistical watershed moments, and more to come. First, since 1980 the number of Kenyans with primary education has exceeded those with no education; just over a decade later, those with secondary education also exceeded those with none.

Today, a majority of Kenyans have had the benefit of attaining basic education, and almost all children are going to school, except in northern and north-eastern Kenya.

2 Replies to “Kenya can reap education dividend”

  1. mr.wolfgang whatt you are saying is very true, its good to know that someone out there is checking up! problem is the only thing that the kenyan goverment is emphasising is children to go to school if not the parent is to be persecuted! is this logical considering the fact that people in the eastern and north eastern region are the most hit in turns of drought and famine?? that means no food no water! is there a chance for a 5yr old child to abandon their parents who are already old and sickly to fend for them or will the child take responsibility and cater for the folks?that means looking for food and water and if possible the money that can be found! which most of the times comes from or in terms of donor grants. should these people continue to live on hopes of donor funds and grants or should the government do something to create a way as you have said in terms of industrial and or vocational knowledge to help the people in the arid regions devise and come up with sustainable and viable ideas to help them fend for their lives?
    the government has neglected these regions for whatever reasons that have been brought up all along such as the fact that the north eastern regions are habited by muslim oriented people,

    feel free to contact:
    peter karanja
    matatu tout, eastleigh route

  2. Can Wolfgang tell us how many Primary school or secondary drop outs are absorbed in any economy…including is native Germany. The truth is basic education in any poor country is not sufficient to boost the human capital. Tertiary education which most african governments including Kenya provided for free and at high quality was abolished because of the institution which the auther works for. As a result cost sharing in public universities denied poor Kenyans access. Infact the proposal of how to make tertiary education financially sustainable came from the World Bank. The results? look at what we have….heavly commercialised public institutions with half baked graduates that you cant even employ. Which divindeds are we talking about here?

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