The Education System in Kenya: An Uphill Battle for Rural Schools and Vulnerable Families.

By Seliphar Machoni

The education system in Kenya remains a persistent topic of discussion, reflecting both progress and challenges.

Despite commendable efforts by the government to enhance educational access, there are still substantial obstacles, particularly for schools in rural areas like Emalashira Sub-location, Lubinu-Lusheya ward in Mumias West constituency.

Vulnerable families in these regions contend that the promise of free education has not materialized. Accessing education, for them, is an ongoing struggle marked by poverty, additional school fees, challenges with bursaries for needy children, schools not aligning with the competence-based curriculum, and a lack of infrastructure.

During a recent community dialogue with Siasa Place, Emalishira residents voiced concerns about the hardships faced by students and parents in Lubinu-Lusheya ward.

A central issue is the financial burden, with many struggling families unable to meet school fees, purchase uniforms, acquire textbooks and obtain other essential educational materials. Notably, some schools, like St. Marthias Mwitoti Secondary School, impose extra fees such as motivational fees, ream paper fees, lunch fees, Parent-Teacher Association fees (PTA), and desk fees, exacerbating the financial strain on parents.

Expressing frustration, one community member questioned the necessity of paying motivational fees, stating, “At Mwitoti, parents have to pay motivational fees every year in cash to inspire teachers to teach. Students who don’t pay this fee are not allowed to report to school until they do. We wonder why we should have to motivate teachers to teach.”

This financial strain often forces parents into difficult choices, potentially leading to prioritizing basic needs over education or withdrawing children from school, contributing to a rise in school dropouts.

Beyond financial barriers, residents of Lusheya-Lubinu ward face challenges related to the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) implementation. They highlight a lack of modern CBC-compliant facilities, insufficient CBC-based books, and a shortage of adequately trained teachers for the CBC curriculum. Many schools in the ward struggle with CBC implementation due to limited resource distribution to rural schools.

Furthermore, there is a lack of support systems for students in rural areas. Financially disadvantaged yet bright students encounter obstacles to education due to inadequate fee support.

A community member emphasized the need for support, stating, “We request our Member of Parliament, Member of County Assembly, and even our governor to provide bursaries for our bright but needy students, enabling them to stay in school.”

In conclusion, the education system in Kenya poses substantial challenges for vulnerable families and schools in rural areas like Emalishira sub-location. Addressing financial barriers, improving infrastructure and resources, establishing effective support systems, and providing bursaries for needy students are crucial steps toward creating a more equitable and inclusive education system. Residents of Lubinu-Lusheya ward believe that by addressing these challenges, there can be a positive transformation, reducing extra fees, enhancing CBC compliance, and ensuring that every child, regardless of financial circumstances, can pursue education for a brighter future.

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