KENYA: 2.6million Children in Non-formal Schools Threatened by 2015 APBET Policy

A non-formal school in Mathare slum of NAIROBI

By Douglas Namale:

September 2015, was a remarkable year for non-formal school’s owners, the government published the Alternative Provision of Basic Education and Training (APBET) policy that recognized their schools.

Publication of the APBET policy, by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (Mo-EST), was touted as a game-changer among the non-formal school’s fraternity. Charles Ochieng, Kenya Informal Schools Association (KISA) chairman praised the move, saying “the policy will go a long way in formalizing non-formal schools operations”.

But his counterpart, Proteus Buluma, a chair of Kibera Langatta Complementary Schools Association (KILACOSO) was of a contrary opinion; “APBET policy is for ‘non-formal education‘, not non-formal schools.” Buluma argued, non-formal schools follow a formal curriculum, and sat the same exams as formal schools; including them in APBET is suspicious”. But Charles lauded APBET policy, saying it will improve non-formal schools performance.

Late 2016, there was an outcry among non-formal school owners; the Mo-EST demanded those applying to be registered as APBET should comply with guidelines contained in the policy. I called Charles to inquire what the nature of guidelines the Mo-EST was referring to. His response; “ officials from the Mo-EST are demanding either a title deed, allotment letter or an 8 year lease in the name of the school before your application is processed.

Damside Preparatory school Kibera: By May 2014, Kibera had about 286 non-formal schools with over 38 700 pupils.

So what is not working

Mrs. Leah Rotich, director general in the Mo-EST, says her docket is planning to role out the training of all County Directors of education on the contents of the APBET policy and its implementation. She adds, ‘the Mo-EST is formulating guidelines on the minimum requirements of an APBET school, before rolling out registration.

But Charles Ochieng disagrees with Mrs. Rotich’s assertion. He says, KISA has mobilized resources, sensitized all stakeholders, including Mo-EST officials on the said policy, but nothing is changing.

He adds, “the training Mrs. Rotich is talking about should have happened two years ago. Money has been allocated twice, but nothing has happened.” He blames the rigid guidelines contained in section 82 (1)(b) of the Basic Education Act 2013, Section 4.7 of the APBET policy and rule 5 of the Mo-EST rules on registering a school as the main barriers.

What does above guidelines say

Section 4.7 of the 2015 APBET policy reads:-

Standard requirements for physical facilities (Basic Education Act 2013 Sec. 82 (1) (b))

a) APBET institutions shall have at lease one of the following documents regarding land use by the institution

  1. a title deed/allotment letter that shall be in the name of the institution. Or
  2. a tenancy agreement that provides for smooth transitions in case of change of use

Section 82 (1)(b) has the same content as stated in Section 4.7, of APBET policy 2015.

Charles says, this requirement is not applicable in slums, and Mo-EST officials are using it to frustrate non-formal school owners.

I asked Charles how this clause found itself into the APBET policy, yet KISA and several other non-formal school actors were involved in the development of the policy.

He blames Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi, then Education Cabinet Secretary, for ignoring the contents agreed on at Egerton University stakeholders forum, which provided for a third document from the two mentioned in section 4.7 of the published 2015 APBET policy.

What is the noise about

Sec. 6 of 2014 Draft APBET policy reads:- (as agreed from the Egerton University stakeholders forum)

1.Standard Requirement for Physical facilities (The Basic Education Act Sec. 39 & Sec.59)

1. An APBE&T institution shall have at least one of the following documents regarding land being used by the institution:

  1. Title deed/Allotment letter that shall be in the name of the school

  2. Tenancy Agreement for a minimum 5 year period (in case of secondary) and 8 year in case of primary

  3. Letter of authority from a relevant government office in the county

According to Charles, stakeholders thought letters from chiefs, and other administration officials will be sufficient to facilitate registration, this is what informed addition of roman (iii) in the 2014 draft policy. But technocrats at the Mo-EST led by Prof. Kaimenyi deleted this part, leading to the current dilemma.

Another key element to point at is Sec. 6 of the 2014 draft APBET policy d-linked Sec. 82 (1)

(b) of the Basic Education Act 2013 with the policy. Instead it linked Section 6. of the 2014 draft policy with Sec. 39 and 59 of the Basic Education Act 2013.

Section 39 of the Basic Education Act 2013, emphasized on the responsibility of government in actualizing article 43 (1)(j) of the constitution on the right to education, while Section 59, talks about the role of Board of Management (BoM), which essentially emphasizes on the role of the community in management of education.

Since publication of APBET in 2015, all non-formal schools were officially rendered illegal. Currently 2.6 million children go to non-formal schools across the country. If something is not done urgently to correct the current APBET standoff , this 2.6 million innocent children will continue attending illegal schools, where nobody checks quality or anything.

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