Financing education in Kenya: expenditures, outcomes and the role of international aid

RECOUP Working Paper no. 25
by Wycliffe Otieno and Christopher Colclough

The provision of widely spread education and training opportunities has been a long-standing objective of the Government of Kenya (GoK). Since Independence, the Government has sought to address the challenges facing the education sector through a range of policy initiatives, often with mixed results. Nevertheless, a major focus has been the attainment of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and the key concerns of achieving greater access, participation, equity, quality and relevance. However, at the outset of the 21st century, the country is faced with new challenges for educational policy, which marry both the right to universal access to education, and the need to enhance rapidly the development of skilled human resources (Kenya, 2005). Over the last 30 years, the education sector has undergone major transformations with more than ten reviews by special commissions and working parties established by the Government. The increased public demand for education and training has stretched the Government budget, and in response partnerships have been intensified with parents and communities, individual investors, civil society and donors. Disentangling the separate influence of government and donors in the Kenyan education sector is not easy. For example, recent increases in primary school enrolments are mainly a direct result of the government’s free primary education program. Nevertheless, donor funding has made a direct contribution to improving teaching and learning materials, increasing reading proficiency and therefore the quality of education. In the light of the volume of pupils, the quality of education would otherwise have suffered and in recent years the important role of donor funds in supporting state funding and safeguarding basic learning has been clear. These issues constitute an important subject for interrogation in this paper. It is the outcome of a study commissioned by the University of Cambridge in collaboration with Kenyatta University on the role and importance of aid to education, under the auspices of the RECOUP project. The overall objective of the paper is to identify and analyse educational expenditures over the past two decades, and to compare these with changes in enrolments and outputs from the education system over the same period. A particular interest is to identify the role of donor spending in the sector, and to document the main changes in the volumes and emphases of such expenditures. The paper is structured as follows.  Introductory chapter presents an analysis on the trends in participation in education in Kenya, covering early childhood development (ECD), primary, secondary, technical and vocational schooling and university education. A discussion of quality issues is presented in chapter two. An analysis of the financing trends and patterns of international aid flows in Kenya is presented in chapters three and four. Some concluding observations on the impact of international aid are offered in chapter five.

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  3. […] W & Colclough, C. (2009). Financing education in Kenya: expenditures, outcomes and the role of international aid. RECOUP Working Paper no. […]

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