The right of every child to “free and compulsory basic education” as stipulated in Article 53 of the Constitution was touted as among the most progressive provisions Kenyans secured when they voted and adopted a new constitution in 2010.
This right is further cemented in Article 43 of the Constitution which states: Every person has the right to education.
This fundamental right has however, been under threat going by the limited resources in public schools which has been threatened by the poor transition rates from primary schools, secondary schools and ultimately tertiary institutions.
With the escalating threat in the education sector, education experts and local leaders are now proposing the need for the adoption and implementation of the public-private partnerships to strengthen the education sector in the country.
Other models such as enlisting organisations that run Alternative Provision of Basic Education and Training (APBET) programmes have also proven to be effective, according to Kibra MP Ken Okoth, who cited Bridge International Academies, which has several schools across the country, as a success story in Kenya.
“Such programmes ensure that pupils/students are allocated funds by the government with which they can enrol at a school of their choice and this has proven to be effective with missionary schools,” Okoth stated during the breakfast show on Capital FM on Monday.
“Some of the public schools have a student:teacher ratio that is far beyond the expected standards. These are some of the issues we can resolve with public-private partnerships and APBETs,” he added.
According to Okoth, given an opportunity, Public-Private Partnerships can promote innovation which is crucial to sustainable development of the country’s education sector.
“If you compare the quality of education in public and private schools you will notice a huge discrepancy, look at schools like Makini, Riara and even Nova Academies. There’s a big difference in terms of innovation that is lacking in our public schools,” the Kibra MP said.
On average, partnership schools improved teaching and increased learning by the equivalent of about 0.6 extra years of school, according to a recent report by the Centre for Global Development (a global body that works to change the policies and practices of rich countries and powerful institutions to reduce global poverty and inequality).
The performance of children in APBET schools has also demonstrated viability of innovation in the education sector.
Pupils enrolled at the Bridge International Academy, one of such schools in the country, recorded an average pass mark of 59 per cent compared to the national average of 44 per cent in 2016.
In 2016, Bridge pupils achieved 59pc compared to a national average of 44pc. The longer a child is at Bridge the better they perform and in 2016 a child who had been at Bridge for 4 years achieved an average pass mark of 74pc.
In May, Bridge was selected as partner to the Lagos state government, in Nigeria for a new education technology initiative, called CodeLagos. The programme aims to equip one million young people with coding skills and transform the state into a major technology hub over the next decade. Twenty-three Bridge academies and 3,000 pupils will take part in the initiative.
More than 100, 000 pupils have benefited from a Bridge education in Kenya and the schools continue to offer exemplary education options to parents who have low income and limited access but want their children to get quality education.
Despite the performance having dropped from the previous year when the average mark stood at 63 per cent, the average pass mark has been steady compared to the national average which stood at 49 per cent in the 2015 KCPE.
Bridge Chief Executive Officer, Jay Kimmelman, said they are 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 employs innovative technology learning gains in education through acting as an Education partner in Africa.
For instance, according to government statistics, out of over 925,000 pupils who sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in 2015, only 759,000 secured placements in both public and private secondary schools in 2016.
With a similar situation replicated at the Kenya Certificate of Primary Educations (KCSE) level, there is need to increase the capacity of schools in order to close the transition gap.
The government plans to roll out free day secondary education could all be jeopardized if adequate measures are not put in place.
By mid 2016 for instance, the government had projected the shortfall of classrooms in secondary schools at 3,000, the same required by this year for a 100 per cent transition rate to be achieved.
Private-public partnerships such as the one adopted by the Ministry of Education through the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) in which some 10,000 students who sat for KCSE in 2015 were awarded a government subsidy could come in handy in improving transition rates while at the same time ensuring provision of quality education.
Elimu Yetu Coalition National Coordinator Janet Ouko too believes that public-private partnership is the key to the development of the country’s future on education.
“With the promise of compulsory basic education to our children, we owe ourselves an honest assessment of the sector and a review of all options available to guarantee an education that is available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable,” she said.
She believes the critical issues can be resolved through a national dialogue aimed at making significant changes in partnerships in the education sector, not only in terms of financing, but also in relation to producing education outcomes.
“The manner in which the ministry of education throws money at schools with little or no means of accounting to the last coin cannot be sustained,” the Elimu Yetu Coalition Coordinator said, “Worse still is the huge indictment that come with low literacy and numeracy levels against an excuse to explain the teacher performance data.”