A third of secondary school learners do not complete their education and will continue dropping out in spite of heavy investment to ensure 100 per cent transition from primary school.
The latest report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on the progress made by countries towards achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 indicates that close to 35 per cent of Kenyan secondary school students will not complete upper secondary education by 2030. This is even before factoring in the effect the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means that out of the 1.4 million learners who are currently in Grade 5 and are expected to join junior secondary next year, close to half a million will not complete their senior secondary school studies in 2028.
However, this will be a great improvement since only 47.7 per cent of learners completed their secondary education in 2015, before the transition policy was introduced in 2018.
Data from the Ministry of Education also shows that thousands of students fail to join secondary schools each year while others fail to complete school after joining due to various reasons, among them teenage pregnancy, death, lack of school fees and failure by parents to prepare them to report to school.
Enrolment in schools has been erratic over the years. By the end of 2020, there were 10.17 million learners in primary schools, 10.2 million in 2016, 10.4 million in 2017, 10.5 million in 2018 and 10 million in 2019. The Ministry of Education revealed that headteachers have in the past been inflating learner numbers to steal capitation money.
Enrolment in secondary schools jumped from 2.7 million in 2016 to 3.5 million in 2020.
According to the Economic Survey, 2021, the primary to secondary school transition rate stood at 91 per cent in 2020, a rise of 5.5 per cent from the previous year. This has, in turn, caused a strain on the infrastructure in secondary schools.
Primary school completion appears better than that of secondary school, which has the biggest wastage. The number of learners who completed lower secondary (Form 1 and 2) dropped to 87.6 per cent while those who went all the way to Form Four in 2015 were just 47.7 per cent. The government pans to improve this to 57 per cent in 2025 and 64.5 per cent in 2030.
“The main conclusion is that even if countries manage to achieve their voluntarily set benchmarks, they still fall short of the SDG 4 target pledges, even before taking the potential impact of Covid-19 into account,” reads the National SDG 4 benchmarks: Fulfilling our neglected commitment report.
Kenya fared better than other members of the East African Community on various parameters considered by Unesco to track progress towards achievement of the SDG, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.
While other countries in the region expect to remain with high rates of out-of-school upper secondary youth, Kenya expects to reduce that rate to 4.7 per cent by the deadline.
In Africa, Botswana had the best completion rate of primary school learners in 2015 at 97.7 per cent but aims to have achieved 100 per cent by 2025. Kenya was close with 92.7 percent, with the government aiming to achieve 100 per cent completion in the next four years.
Unesco assessed the progress made by countries based on early childhood education attendance, out-of-school rate, completion rate, minimum proficiency level, trained teachers and public education expenditure.
Kenya scores highly when compared to other African nations on public expenditure on education measured against GDP. Only Lesotho (8.2 per cent), Botswana (7.1 per cent) and Ethiopia (5.6 per cent) spent more than Kenya’s 5.4 per cent.
Courtesy of the Daily Nation newspaper