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About Kitui

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The average per capita income in Kitui is less than €2 per day


Education in Kenya- The Thirst for Knowledge

1. Education in Kitui

Kitui has 606 primary schools, scattered over an area of 20,500 sq.km.  The teacher:pupil ratio is 30:1 in primary schools and 16:1 in secondary schools. There is a need to address accessibility and cultural issues to improve school enrolment and completion rates in the district.  The primary school going population aged 6-13 years was 129,913 in 1999 representing 27% of the total population and comprised of 65,542 males and 64,371 females. The total is expected to rise to 158,359 by the year 2008. The total primary enrolment in 1999 was 132972 with 47.6% for boys and a lower 48.1% for girls. Although there were 53,383 (26,992 boys and 26,391 girls) secondary-school going children aged 14-17 years in 1999, only 6,860 boys and 6,866 girls (about 25%) were enrolled in secondary schools. 

Thus, there is a very low transition from Primary to Secondary Schools. Empirical evidence shows that 13% of the urban poor have never attended school at all while the comparative rural figure is 29%. Of the poor, only 12% of those in rural areas have reached secondary education while for the urban poor the figure rises to 28%.

Education is not enough by itself to escape from poverty. Many well educated Kenyans remain poor on account of lack of access to opportunities. However without education, capacity for accessing opportunity is very much reduced.Education is very important to the Kenyans. A major part of the typical household budget goes towards school fees and costs for school uniforms.

 Every day in Kitui you see hordes of children heading either towards school, or from school towards home, their brightly coloured uniforms contrasting with the reddish-brown dusty landscape.  Education is seen as a vital part of the struggle to overcome the enormous difficulties faced by the majority of people in Kitui. Not only can education offer the potential of securing a better type of employment, but it can also help open minds to tackle gender issues such as the role of women, womens’ property rights, and so forth.    Schools are generally multi- denominational. Even schools managed by Catholic religious, male or female, will often have less than 50% Catholic students. Primary education is free in Kenya: however private schools are very popular. School fees for tuition only are generally in the region of Ks3500 to Ks4000 per term (€45 to €50), with boarding schools charging twice this amount. In times of hardship, such as now, parents have enormous difficulty in raising cash for fees and uniforms. 

As explained elsewhere, the importance of school fees and school uniforms is twofold. Firstly, if a child can get access to school, he/she is probably guaranteed  adequate feeding and nutrition for five days of the week- and the remaining family foodstocks can be divided among the other family members.  Secondly, school uniforms are often a prerequisite for entry to school- and once attending school, the uniform minimises  “difference” for children who might otherwise suffer discrimination or stigma due to the HIV/AIDS factor.

Many Parishes run Polytechnics which teach skills such as carpentry to boys, and dressmaking or needlework to girls. Students in the Polytechnics may have either insufficient points from Primary school to proceed to secondary school level, or may be prevented from entering secondary for financial or other reasons.

The provision of targeted funding from support groups in Ireland can achieve much with what are relatively modest amounts of money in Irish terms. For example, the Dalkey Outreach Group has provided a major part of the funding for the Polytechnic in Endau Parish for provision of sewing machines, a knitting machine, and sewing materials.  They have  also sponsored the fees of two students in the past year. Holy Redeemer parish in Bray, Co. Wicklow, has been twinned with Ikanga parish in Kitui, since the early 80s.  They send out about €15,000 per year, and when that money is not required for famine relief, the main priority is educating children in secondary schools.  
Free Primary Education introduced in 2003

Free Primary education (FPE) was introduced in Kenya on January 6th 2003. The abolition of school levies increased the number of students attending primary school, with the number of pupils having doubled or tripled in some cases, thus affecting the pupil to teacher ratios. Some parents removed their children from private school so as to benefit from this free education while others  left the public sectors due to poor quality of education and overcrowded classes. After the introduction of FPE in Kenya, an additional 1.5 million students were able to attend schools for the first time. The current education system consists of Early Childhood Education (ECE), primary and secondary education. ECE takes one year.

 At the end of the primary education, pupils sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) prepared by the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC). Performance in the KCPE determines who is admitted to secondary schools. At the end of secondary education, students sit for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, also administered by the KNEC. The Joint Admissions Board (JAB) is responsible for selecting students to joining public universities. Students can apply directly to private universities, which are guided by the Commission for Higher Education (CHE).
School Funding:

The District Education Officer (DEO) is in charge of education matters in the district and is assisted by the Area Education Officers (AEO) in the various divisions in the district. The DEO receives monthly enrolment figures from schools, which are then used to determine funding. Under FPE, each school receives Kenya shillings (KSH) 1,020 (approximately €10 at current exchange) per child enrolled, per school year. The funds are distributed in two deposits per year, usually, six months apart. Under MOEST instructions, the area education offices have helped schools open two accounts. Account 1 is the Instructional Materials (IM) Account. Funds in the account cater for textbooks, pens, exercise books, charts and writing chalk among other supplies. Account 2 is the General Purpose (GP) Account, which caters for the wages for supporting staff, repairs and maintenance, phone bills, electricity bills, garbage collection, postage and general expenses. Account I receives 650 KSH per pupil enrolled (63.7%) and Account II receives 370 KSH (36.3%) per pupil. 

School Management Committee:

The SMC are responsible with the management of FPE funds. 

Each SMC is composed of,

  • Head Teacher- Chair person

  • Deputy Head Teacher – Secretary

  • The Chairperson of the PTA

  • Two parents (non members of PTA) elected by parents

  • One teacher to represent each school grade class. 

While launching the Kenya FPE policy (January, 2003), the Minister of Education stated that both the government and the parents have financial obligations to meet. The government is charged with mobilization of resources, recruitment of teachers and training, paying tuition fees, development of the school curriculum and provision of the infrastructure and instructional materials. Parents on the other hand provide basic needs for the children, school uniforms and other scholastic materials

Standard 2 at Mutomo greets a visitor from Friends of Kitui