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The Contribution of Non-Formal Schools in Enhancing the Provision of Basic Education in Kenya

Ruto, Sara Jerop

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Abstract

The drive to access basic education to school aged children, has preoccupied successive governments in independent Kenya. This has been evidenced by a series of activities aimed at boosting school enrolment and learning ranging from heavy allocation of the national budget to education, currently standing at 6.3% of the GDP, to the current implementation of the free primary education policy. Yet despite all this effort attaining EFA has remained illusive. So while primary school enrolment in 2003 rose from 5.8 to 7.1 million, it is estimated that there are still 2 million non-enrolled children. It is this reality of OOS children, that has over the years prompted a number of individuals or organizations, operating outside the formal system to initiate endeavours offering formal education. From individual cases in the 1980s, these initiatives multiplied in the 1990s and came to be formally recognised a Non Formal Schools (NFS). Policy documents exalted their role in reaching specific populations of excluded children and hence achieving EFA. However, no detailed study had been conducted on NFS in terms of their numbers, education provisions, to whom they are offered, how they are offered, their viability of replication and their overall place in the primary school education plan in the country. The task of this study was therefore to investigate how alternative learning approaches, such as NFS contribute to the provision of basic education in Kenya. This was done by examining the characteristics of NFS with respect to school orientation and classroom culture and how this enhances the attainment of basic education skills. Specifically, the study sought to (a) identify and analyse NFS according to school category and functions (b) understand their learning processes and factors impacting on them and (c) thereafter posit the contributions NFS are making towards enhancing the provision of basic education in Kenya. The study designed to answer the above objectives adopted an interactive research design comprising the quantitative and qualitative paradigms. First an institutional mapping survey comprising 30 institutions was conducted. Thereafter 8 cases were selected for detailed study. Additionally a desk review of NFE approaches targeting school aged children in selected countries was undertaken. The selection of the sites was informed by the fact that NFS are visible from a geographic point of view as they are mainly to be found in rural-remote districts and urban poor areas. Hence NFS in Samburu and Marsabit to represent Rural and Kisumu and Nairobi too represent Urban were studied. The data collection and analysis procedures were guided by the “nine building blocks of education” framework suggested by Anderson (1992) who suggests that optimum outcomes in education are the result of effective interaction among the 9 blocks viz. the learners, teachers, time, place, curriculum, pedagogy, community participation, administration and finances. The work is also presented along these nine blocks. On the whole, the study reveals that there has been an overly romanticism of the role of “alternative provisions”. NFS are ascribed a big role without accompanying changes in policy and financing and without a full examination of its ability to provide an equitable learning experience. The schools are envisioned to augment the countries basic education plan and yet they have not been properly empowered to do so. Government documents depict a lack of clarity of the place of NFS in the overall basic education plan. For instance, they are quoted to be complementary institutions but the findings suggest that the majority of NFS, especially in urban are parallel institutions, competing against formal education rather than complementing it and operating in a vague and uncoordinated linkage with formal institutions (e.g. primary schools, examination council) offering basic education. The wording “non” has been used to justify difference which unfortunately has taken the shape of “just teaching” questionable content using equally questionably pedagogical skills. It is evident that NFS needs streamlining and this study makes suggestions on a more comprehensive educational plan that would accommodate vulnerable children and their quest for formal education. In this sense, this work belongs to the broader theme of school reform.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Dr. Volker Lenhart, Prof.
Date of thesis defense: 27. February 2004
Date Deposited: 15. Apr 2004 12:21
Date: 2004
Faculties / Institutes: The Faculty of Behavioural and Cultural Studies > Institut für Bildungswissenschaft
Subjects: 370 Education
Controlled Keywords: Kind / Unterprivilegierung, Elementarbildung, Alternativschule, Kenia
Uncontrolled Keywords: benachteiligte Kinder , GrundbildungAlternative Schools , Disadvantaged Children , Basic Education , Kenya
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