The implementation of the Free Primary Education (FPE) program in 2003 and Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) in 2008 has led to a significant increase in the number of children attending school in Kenya.
The student population grew from 6.7 million in 2003 to over 12 million in 2015.
However, despite this progress, there were still approximately 1.9 million primary school children aged 6-13 years and 2.7 million children aged 14-17 years who were out of school, as reported by the Kenya Household Population Census (KHPC) in 2009.
Furthermore, the 2007 Kenya National Adult Literacy survey revealed that 7.8 million Kenyans were illiterate, with individuals aged 15-30 years accounting for 35% of the illiterate population.
This issue is particularly pronounced in informal urban settlements, arid and semi-arid lands, and impoverished areas throughout the country.
In response to the educational needs of those unable to join formal institutions, Alternative Provision of Basic Education and Training (APBET) institutions have emerged as viable alternatives.
While the government acknowledges the crucial role of APBET in improving access to basic education, especially in marginalized areas and informal settlements, these institutions have not been officially recognized by the Ministry of Education.
The failure to be recognised is due to their failure to meet the registration requirements imposed on conventional schools, such as acreage, staffing, and facilities.
Consequently, over half a million children, youth, and adults are receiving education in institutions operating informally. Sir Moses Wokono, the National Chairman of the Unified Apbet Schools Association (UASA), emphasized this point during the launch of UASA-SCCO.
According to the Kenyan Constitution (2010), Article 43 guarantees the right to education for every individual, while Article 53(b) specifically states that every child has the right to free and compulsory basic education.
The Basic Education Act of 2013, Section 39(c), enacts this provision and mandates the Cabinet Secretary to ensure that children from marginalized, vulnerable, or disadvantaged groups are not discriminated against or hindered from pursuing and completing their basic education.
Section 95(3) (i) and (j) of the Act also empowers the Cabinet Secretary to establish regulations pertaining to the conduct and management of schools, classification criteria for schools, provisions for different types of schools, as well as imposing conditions and granting exemptions.
Sir Moses urged the Ministry of Education to incorporate APBET Schools as a third category of schools in the Education Act. This legal recognition would enable APBET Schools to operate lawfully, and their registration guidelines should be made feasible and practical.
A meeting was held at The Excellence, an exemplary APBET School located in Gatina, Dagoretti. Attendees included Hon. Anthony Oluoch, Member of Parliament for Mathare; Madam Salome Wenyaa, Nairobi Region RDQAS; Mr. Raphael Musy, SCDE Dagoretti; Mr. Johnson Akongo, Nairobi County Licensing Officer; Mr. Johson Shisanya from Each Rights, Beacon of Hope, and EduAID; as well as representatives from UASA-K NEC officials.
Hon. Oluoch pledged to advocate for the inclusion of APBET Schools in the Education Act and urged the Nairobi Government to consider APBET learners for the porridge and feeding program.
Mr. Akongo, the Nairobi County Licensing Officer, confirmed the Governor’s commitment to reduce the business licenses for APBET schools from Kshs. 10,000 to Kshs. 3,000. He assured that this reduction has already been considered and is included in the current finance bill.
Madam Salome Wenyaa, the Nairobi Region RQASO, emphasized the importance of quality teaching in all APBET Schools. She advised the directors of APBET Schools to ensure their learners’ active participation in extracurricular activities and reminded them of the ongoing music festival.
Sir Christopher Barassa, representing the Unified Apbet Schools Association of Kenya, expressed gratitude for the partners’ dedication to the recognition of APBET Schools.
Dr. Paul K. Wanjohi, the Association Treasurer, advised APBET Schools to seize the opportunity presented by the SACCO launch and begin saving immediately.
There is a pressing need to officially recognize APBET Schools in order to bridge the educational gap for marginalized communities in Kenya.
Legal recognition will ensure that these institutions can operate within the framework of the Education Act, allowing them to provide education to a significant number of children, youth, and adults who are currently being educated in informal settings.