Report Launch – Quality and Access to Education in Urban Informal Settlements in Kenya

November 27, 2013

Understanding the uptake and patterns of school enrollment after the introduction of the Free Primary Education (FPE) in Kenya.

Highlights

Key findings from the report:

  • 47% of urban poor enrolled in non-government primary schools.
  • Standard 3 pupils attending private schools do better than their peers in public and low-cost private schools in Kenya.
  • Private schools performed significantly better than public and low cost schools in reading at standard 6.
  • Teacher performance in content knowledge and teaching skill is low in non-government and government schools.
  • Years of teaching experience do not lead to higher pupil performance.
  • More than half of lessons are dominated by pupils sitting and doing classwork with their teachers moving around marking their work.

Recommendations/way forward:

  • Long term and sustained free primary education support to low cost private schools in slum areas by the government.
  • Putting in place teacher support mechanisms to assess and build capacity
  • Teacher knowledge – measurable competency levels
  • Teacher work assignments – competency based
  • Teacher professional development – lesson observation
  • Teachers’ measurable annual teaching/learning goals
  • Research and development: Measuring quality of teaching

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Your study indicates that a large number of children in slum areas are learning in schools other than the free public schools. Is this something that is true only for the slums or is this the same in other parts?
  2. Why are poor parents opting to take their kids to schools that charge fees and ignoring the free public schools?
  3. What can be done to change this trend? How can we ensure that more children from slum areas are able to access FPE?
  4. Is the idea that teachers cannot pass a subject they are supposed to be teaching mean that there is a problem with the way teachers are trained?
  5. Has this information been shared with KNUT or TSC? What has been their response?

Your study indicates that a large number of children in slum areas are learning in schools other than the free public schools. Is this something that is true only for the slums or is this the same in other parts?

Our study was primarily focused on informal settlements or slums in six towns across the country and so it would not be easy for me, especially as a researcher who relies on scientific facts and figures, to make guesses about what is happening in other parts. What I imagine this means is that we need to carry out a study across different social strata to be able to make comparisons. For the moment however, this data is indicative of informal settlements in Kenya

Why are poor parents opting to take their kids to schools that charge fees and ignoring the free public schools?

Our data does not directly say why the parents are doing this although our findings on other parameters such as performance and teaching practices could give us an idea about what is going on. Given the performance of children in public schools vs. those in private schools, we could deduce that parents are worried about the quality of the education their children are getting in the public schools. It could also be an issue of access; that there aren’t enough public schools in slum areas to meet the needs of the community.

What can be done to change this trend? How can we ensure that more children from slum areas are able to access FPE?

There are several recommendations that are made in the study on how this can be done. One of them is to ensure that the ministry supports the low cost private schools in slum areas through financial and technical support that would help them avail FPE to the children living in these areas. This would be an excellent example of public private partnership or PPP.

Is the idea that teachers cannot pass a subject they are supposed to be teaching mean that there is a problem with the way teachers are trained?

Our study makes it clear that while these teachers may fail in one subject, they are excellent at teaching another subject. What this means is that they are not necessarily bad teachers, just bad in particular subjects. Our study recommends having teachers teach subjects that they are good at.

Has this information been shared with KNUT or TSC? What has been their response?

Yes we have shared the report with KNUT and TSC.  We have also made presentations of the report at the KICD and the Ministry of Education. Their response to our findings and recommendations has so far been positive.

 

Publication Downloads:

  1. Report: Quality and Access to Education in Urban Informal Settlements in Kenya
  2. Policy Brief: Moving from Evidence to Policy and Action: Can Teacher Quality Help Improve Learning Outcomes in Kenya?
  3. Policy Brief: Nationally Standardized Continuous Assessment Tests at Various Grades for Improved Academic Achievement
  4. Policy Brief: Ministry of Education to Reduce the Incidence of Sexual Harassment and Violence Among Girls Attending High Schools in Kenya by 2015
  5. Policy Brief: Closing the Performance Gap in Student Learning Outcomes Between Private and Public Schools
  6. Policy Brief: Primary School Completion and Grade Repetition Among Disadvantaged Groups: A Challenge to Achieving UPE by 2015
  7. Fact Sheet: Quality and Access to Education in Urban Informal Settlements
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