On 19 October 2021, in Nairobi, UNESCO in partnership with the Ministry of Education of Kenya alongside 317 participants came together to launch the first-ever Kenya national study report on Out-of-School Children (OOSC). The launch drew participation from a wide constituencies of education stakeholders drawn from the Ministry of Education national and county officers, Local Education Group; Semi-Autonomous Government Agencies: Kenya Institute of Special Education, Teachers Service Commission, National Council for Nomadic Education; and the media fraternity.
Kenya Out-of-School Children Initiative is part of the Global Out-of-School Children Initiative launched in 2010 and is among more than 40 national studies conducted since 2010 that have been completed in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe. In 2020-2021, Kenya, Cameroon and Madagascar are the three countries participating in this initiative in sub-Saharan Africa, with an additional two countries participating in the global initiative in Asia region in 2020-2021 (Bangladesh and Lao PDR.).
In his remarks, Mr. Saidou Jallow, Chief of Education, UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, highlighted that Education is a fundamental human right, the cardinal principle guiding all our actions underpinning the Education 2030 Agenda, by which countries pledged to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for ALL,” the bedrock of more inclusive and sustainable societies.
He further noted that now is the time to accelerate implementation of the right to education, taking into account all the barriers holding it back, from social-cultural to economic to digital barriers rightfully outlined in the National report. Additionally, he noted that UNESCO stands ready to work with the Ministry to strengthen development of strategies/guidelines in addressing OOSC, data and reporting.
The population of Kenya is estimated at 47.6 million, according to 2019 census data. 18.3 million of these are children of school age. According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics report (2021), nearly 1.8 million children and adolescents aged 6-17 years are out of school, and 700,000 aged 4-5 years old are missing the opportunity of a stimulating environment to prepare their entry to primary school. The report also shows huge disparities of OOSC rates and numbers between regions and across levels of education in Kenya.
In her remarks, the Chief Guest, Prof. Fatuma Chege – Principal Secretary for State Department for Implementation of Competency-Based Curriculum in the Ministry of Education, representing the Cabinet Secretary, noted that the Ministry is committed to the continuing provision of inclusive quality education, in spite of the challenges highlighted in the report. She further underscored the response mechanisms that the Ministry of Education has put in place to enhance access and retention to include the development and implementation of the school re-entry guidelines, implementation of the competency-based education and training, provision of learner/trainers capitation grants and establishment of the National Council for Nomadic Education.
The Ministry of Education will take up the recommendations provided in the UNESCO Report to informing policy decisions and actions, and is ready to forge partnerships to enhance enrolment of OOSC alongside strengthening the inter-ministerial collaboration on addressing OOSC issues at National and County level.