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Are our children learning? A review of the Education For All Goals

Despite marked progress in increasing access to education across Kenya in recent years, Kenya has not fully met its commitments under the Education for All Goals. And the improved national average figures conceal stark contrasts between the different regions of Kenya. Children in North Eastern region are much more likely to face challenges in access to school, school readiness and learning outcomes.

These findings were released by Uwezo at Twaweza in a report entitled Are our children learning? The state of education in Kenya in 2015 and beyond. The report is based on data collected by Uwezo, a citizen-led assessment of learning outcomes in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In this report data from all five Uwezo assessments are used, meaning data points were collected from over 600,000 children drawn from all the counties in Kenya.

The findings of this fifth Uwezo report are clustered around the six Education for All Goals and focus on: early childhood education and school readiness (EFA Goal 1 on early childhood care and education), access to, and progression through, primary school (EFA Goal 2 on access to and completion of primary education for all), adult school attendance and mothers’ literacy (EFA Goals 3 and 4 on adult literacy and lifelong learning), inequalities including gender (EFA Goal 5 on gender and other inequalities) and learning outcomes (EFA Goal 6 on the quality of education).

Below are a selection of images for media use (right click on the image and select 'save image as'), the publications being released and the full dataset.

Nationally, 84% of children aged 7 or below, currently enrolled in Standard 1 attended pre-school. However this masks significant regional variation: in North Eastern 57% of children went to pre-school while in Coast region it was 87%.

When it comes to access to primary school, enrolment rates are high: 90% of children aged 6 to 13 are enrolled. However overall they are 31% behind their expected grade level; children are not progressing through school at the right pace. Again there is regional variation: in North Eastern 80% are enrolled while in Central 96% are. And in Central, children are 19% behind their expected grade level while in Coast they are 41% behind.

In terms of adult literacy, 8% of adults in Kenya did not attend school and 45% of mothers cannot read a Class 2 English story. The regional contrasts continue to be stark: in North Eastern 82% of adults did not attend school and 5% of mothers can read a story, while in Central 0.1% of adults (1 in 1,000) did not attend school and 71% of mothers can read a Class 2 English story.

The Uwezo report also considers inequalities in education around gender, geography and wealth

  • Gender: across the country, girls enrol more and progress faster than boys through school except in North Eastern where the opposite is true. Nationally the gender discrimination index is 6.7 while in North Eastern it is -10.1 and in Western it’s 14.7.
  • Wealth: children from less privileged items do worse in terms of access to, and progress through, school than children from wealthier households.
  • Geography: children from arid and semi-arid areas have less access to education and progress through school slower than those from non-arid areas. In North Eastern region, one third of the test score variance is explained by location while in Western it is only one tenth. Children from North Eastern are more likely to perform poorly due to location.

And when it comes to learning outcomes, the fifth Uwezo report finds that children are not learning at the right pace. Learning outcomes are low and have been static for the five years that Uwezo has been assessing them. In 2011, 40% of children aged between 7 and 13 could read a Class 2 story and solve Class 2 division. In 2014, the figure is 39%. The same is true for each individual subject: there has been no significant change in numeracy, Kiswahili literacy or English literacy in the five years that Uwezo has been conducting learning assessments.

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