NAIROBI, Kenya, June 3 – The political class is committed to quality education for all children as envisaged in Article 53 of the Constitution.
Kibra Member of Parliament Kenneth Okoth challenged education stakeholders while making his remarks during a consultative forum organised by the Bridge International Academies Friday to work towards achieving quality and compulsory education for children by eliminating bottle necks that impede the sector’s growth.
“Quality education for all our children in non-negotiable, it is an issue that all politicians in Kenya believe in. It is only a question of implementing it,” the Kibra lawmaker said during the forum attended by Bridge Chief Executive Officer, Jay Kimmelman, former Information Communication Technology Principal Secretary, Dr Bitange Ndemo, among other dignitaries.
“There will be competition and resistance from a number of people but we will put our children first and we will say that no Kenyan child should be left behind from that dream and vision that our Constitution has said,” he observed.
He said organisations involved in the Alternative Provision of Basic Education (APBET) should be supported in their quest to ensure that goal is achieved, adding that such schools should not be seen as a threat but rather as a partner in the education sector.
Okoth noted with regret the manner in which a few politicians had a tendency of politicizing matters that are critical to development, something that he said only served to the detriment of the nation’s aspirations for its future generation.
“Every child is entitled and has a right to a free and compulsory basic education. We must look for the funding of it; we have to look for the creativity to make it happen. All the APBET schools that are out there we want more providers to be inventing and so it’s not just a competition with government schools but it is a healthy competition and a choice for parents to decide,” he said adding: “If we’re racing up to the top, that cannot be a bad thing.”
Speaking during the same function, Murang’a County Woman Representative Sabina Chege echoed Okoth’s remarks adding that there is need for more non-state actors to come in and support the Digital Literacy Programme which seeks to promote the use of technology in schools.
Chege, who also chairs the National Assembly Education Committee, said more private partners need to support government’s effort while applauding Bridge International Academies for being one such partner that has embraced technology in teaching.
“What I’ve seen with the transformation that has been brought by digital literacy in Kenya, I can only ask Bridge to come in so that we have not only public schools but public-private partnerships where we do not see you as a competitor or an enemy but as a friend who has helped in the transformation of the education sector in this country,” she said.
She further noted that private learning institutions engaged in APBET need to be supported in order to ensure that Kenyan children from disadvantaged backgrounds enjoy quality education as required by law.
“When I met the Bridge team I had the interest to listen and I noted that what I had from other quarters was completely different from what I had from them,” said the first time lawmaker who has been praised for her input in reforming the education sector and intervening to solve one of the longest strike by public school teachers in the country’s history.
“As the Education Committee, we support the children and we say every child has a potential. We want to nature our children and if you come in to support the education sector in our country we will not discriminate against you,” she affirmed.
On his part, Bridge CEO, Jay Kimmelman, committed to continue investing more in technological infrastructure to ensure learners have access to advanced learning facilities.
“I am pleased that Bridge is an education partner in Kenya, building capacity and capability in education and technology. In the 21st century, technology has become an enabler of better schooling and development across the globe. Technology underpins the education provided by Bridge and there is no doubt that technology will play a pivotal role in empowering Kenyans over the next decade,’’ he said.
Bridge has its presence in 44 counties and 194 constituencies in Kenya where it provides affordable education to disadvantaged children particularly in informal settlements. It is among a few schools in the country offering affordable education to children from poor backgrounds and marginalized communities.