By Lucy Maina, Secondary Education Special Interest Group Coordinator, RELI Kenya.
Nancy Pirolis is a student at Ilpolei secondary school, the home for Masai Cricket warriors. Ilpolei is a small village town as in the outskirts of Nanyuki town. She did brilliantly at her local primary school and was admitted to the best girls’ secondary school in the region, however, she faced lots of challenges that she almost did not join. She is just one of many girls to whom this happens and the Secondary Education group of RELI was curious to find out more about the challenges faced by secondary education learners.
The Regional Education Learning Initiative Secondary Education report launched this week is a first step on that journey. Secondary education is a significant stage for learners but with many RELI partners working hard at primary level, it was imperative that we understood what happens when they get there. This secondary education report documents the evidence on the status of secondary education in Kenya in order to determine what RELI can do to make a meaningful and impactful contribution to the sector.
The study grew from discussions in October 2018 when RELI’s secondary education special interest group (SIG) met in Tanzania. Of particular interest to the group was determining the kind of contribution that RELI could make in the crucial yet often neglected space of secondary education. From the discussions, the group came to the realization that many questions related to secondary education in Kenya remain unanswered and information is scattered among various stakeholders. A key question emerged from the group discussions: What is the true status of secondary education in Kenya?
Dr. Martin Ogolla was appointed to lead the desk review and also collate the evidence on the status of the secondary education with support from the special interest group. The SIG leaders organized for meetings with members to further discuss the assignment and share the work that various partners were involved in. Different forums were also invited to participate in the validation of the report.
The report is particularly timely because of the new competency-based curriculum and the increasing inequality in secondary education. Despite the gains made with the Free Day Secondary Education programme, inequalities persist as seen in socio-economic, gender, regional, and inter-school variations. Among the recommendations of the report was that final secondary exams were ineffective in measuring learning and it is important to expose teachers to different systems of evaluating students’ abilities such as observations, journaling, teamwork and group work.
Secondly, disability among learners remains a major cause of exclusion in schools. Pupils with special needs such as visual and hearing impairment are underrepresented in secondary schools. It is crucial that inclusion and education strategies that promote access to all be implemented. Issues of equity persist. Free day Secondary Education has mostly benefited the already advantaged groups such as boys, the affluent, and those in urban areas, while the traditionally disadvantaged groups have enjoyed smaller gains. Advocacy with the government on funding based on needs should be done.
The report will be useful to those RELI members working in the secondary education sector, the education authorities who can take action on this and generally all those working in the education sector with a focus on secondary education. And most importantly, it will help the country’s education authorities to plan for Nancy’s education so she too can excel at secondary school.
The full report is available here.