Problems facing formal education in Kenya


Date Posted: 9/19/2011 4:10:03 AM

Posted By: Wishstar  Membership Level: Gold  Total Points: 7481

Education is an essential tool in developing the human potential.

Formal education has been described as: Highly institutional chronologically and hierarchically structured educational system running from primary school right through university, and including, in addition to general academic studies, a variety of professional training.

Formal education has the following distinctive characteristics:

i. A literacy basis. Formal education is often referred to as literate education. With increasing knowledge and technology, knowledge must be stored and retrieved in writing. It is impossible for human beings to memorize the vast amount of knowledge that we have today. With this, it is a necessity to store what you have learnt in writing for future reference

ii. A school system

The business of formal education is largely conducted in a school system. Teacher as carefully selected and employed by society to teach the students. Also, the body of knowledge to be taught to each group is predetermined by educational authorities. The school system/education system that we currently have in Kenya is the 8-4-4 system- Eight years in primary school, four years in secondary school and four years in university. This system has its own advantages and disadvantages.

iii. Money funded

Formal education cannot be possible if there were no funds to promote it. The funds may be got from individual parents when they say school fees, from the government and from sponsors. The funds are needed for such things as books, infrastructure development and payment of teachers' salaries.

Some of the problems facing formal education in Kenya include:

i. Lack of sufficiently qualified staff

This has been seen in many schools especially in the rural areas. You may find that a school, out of the 20 teachers they have, only 4 are qualified. The other 16 are employed by the school board of governors, of which most of the teacher from this group are form four leavers.

ii. Congestion in some schools.

This was mainly seen when the government introduced free primary education. Too much pressure was put in various facilities in schools resulting in education in terms of quantity rather than quality.

iii. Strike among teachers.

We have seen in many occasions teachers strike in Kenya. It even occurred just this month when students had opened school for a new term. The main reason cited is that their salaries are low. This is the result of government policy which regards teachers as essential but rather cheaply hired members of society. The strikes may have devastating effects to the students and the country in large as time which would have been used for something constructive is wasted and as it is, it cannot be recovered.

iv. The problem with fees.

Many a times have we seen students in various institutions being sent out of school to go and fetch school fees. This is mainly in secondary schools. This highly takes away the student's valuable time of learning and the student may end up not capturing certain things when he returns to class because they were already taught. This is mainly with subjects such as mathematics and the sciences. This problems arises from people stricken with poverty.

v. Discipline in the institutions.

Discipline has become a serious problem in many institutions in the country. Hardly a term passes without a school strike, be it primary, secondary or university. The causes of unrest and other habits of rebellion among the students are not fully understood. Some students strikes may be for a worthy course while others have no good reasons at all. In any situation where school indiscipline has erupted, it would be important to find out what message the students are trying to convey before rushing to drastic punishments measures as the only cure for the unrest. One way of avoiding school unrest is to know that students have their own point of view. Open channels of communication as well as face to face discussion would avoid most of the indiscipline.

vi. Poor physical facilities and equipment in some areas.

To some of you it may be surprising to find out that there are still some schools in the rural areas where some of the students learn under trees. To some it may be not surprising because they have seen it. Other rural schools, and even some urban schools lack science laboratories and libraries. Also there is lack of such things as books. Most schools have may be one book for every three or more students.

Without a proper and adequate supply of curriculum support materials, even the most able teachers will find it very difficult to keep high standards of teaching

vii. Lack of commitment among teachers.

A good number of teacher are doing their best in offering excellent services to students. However, a large number of teachers are there only because they cannot find a job of their choice. They just use that opportunity while waiting for another greener pasture somewhere else. Others are lowly motivated

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