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Time to overhaul the education system – Kirubi

CK Kirubi

The exam season is almost over and every year what puzzles me is if at all we are giving our children the quality education they require and desire. When we look at education in Kenya, only two groups advance this and that is the Private Sector and the Government.

Early child hood education is more often than not advanced by private institutions. It is sad that the private institutions have monopoly in the provision of education and early skills at this critical stage in life.

Many institutions take advantage of this by charging exorbitant prices raising concerns whether this is not just another opportunity to exploit parents. Many children get locked out of such opportunities due to financial constraints. It’s important for Government to step in and help curb this in order to create opportunities for the less privileged who have a right to quality education

We can clearly see that there is a huge gap in regards to demand and supply in the education system. We have many students but not enough affordable schools.  Effective demand for schooling and acquiring an education substantially exceeds supply.

If this present trend continues then the gap will definitely widen because of population growth, Government’s difficulties and civil service inefficiency which prevent the public sector from providing the quality education demanded.

In order for Private institutions to help bridge the gap between supply and demand, Government needs to subsidize the taxes especially in the early years of developing the institutions. Capital costs should be reduced because most lack debt capacity. Alternatively, liaise with finance institutions that way the property could be used as collateral when borrowing capital to expand or improve facilities.

Set mechanisms where operating costs for these institutions can be subsidized to make them affordable for those wanting to acquire quality education.  Increase bursaries/scholarships for the less privileged, so that they too can get an opportunity to study in private institutions, particularly at the secondary level. It is also important for private institutions to form strategic partnerships with independent bodies for purposes of growth and expansion.

As for community schools and others that receive grants, the Government should support them too. Make it affordable for them to access credit and even land to expand their institutions. Continuously train all teachers and take the head teachers and management through programs that will enhance efficiency in the day to day operations of these institutions. After all they are educating the children of Kenya whose lives we constantly seek to improve. Let’s support them from the critical age and help each child acquire good education.

Private sector; businesses need to rise up and see how they can partner in the education by providing ancillary services. For example, some could take up construction of school facilities, providing student loan programs, establishing learning centers in the ICT sector. These are just some of the areas Private Sector can participate in to create a good learning environment for students all over Kenya.

Remove disincentives from attending private schools, such as an education levy

Government needs to get involved as an enabler where private sector is not able to provide opportunities. Borrow a few tips from private institutions, method of teaching and equipping the students with practical knowledge in order to boost the quality of students we produce and send abroad.

It is important to also have an independent body that reviews and rates both Private and Government owned schools. This will enhance competition and give parents and students an upper hand in regards to making an informed choice of where they want to pursue their education.

All in all, Government and Private Sector need to work together perhaps on advisory levels so as to contribute towards the provision of quality education and deal with the demand for the same.  This should be done regularly so that change is adopted in the system after a few years.  It’s my hope that with time we will see some of these changes in place. Let’s give our children the quality education they deserve.

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