Monday, September 21, 2009

Meaningless Figures and Empty Achievements

Because the Kenyan government is so busy concentrating on the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to ensure that all children complete primary school education, goal 2, they seem to have forgotten that schools require teachers. It is is estimated that they are short of about 65,000 teachers, mostly in the primary sector.

This demonstrates the futility of aiming at some defined 'goal' at all costs. Since Kibaki announced that there would be free primary education in 2003, the enabling conditions for providing this education have been ignored. Millions more children have since been enrolled, often into hopelessly large classes.

But many of them will not complete primary education. There will be times they are not able to attend school, for various reasons, often related to poverty. Many will eventually drop out. And part of the aim of MDG 2, to ensure that girls as well as boys are enrolled, will also be frustrated. Girls are usually more affected than boys when families have to take their children out of school.

Then, yet another aim of MDG 2, to increase the literacy rate of 15-24 year olds, is also likely to be missed. But if you go to the MDG monitor site, you will be fed 'good' news, if there is any. There just doesn't happen to be any data at all for Kenya. But having good figures for enrollment is not really good news if many are not attending school or have dropped out, or if there are such serious shortages of teachers and resources.

Achieving MDG 2 is not just a matter of bumping up the enrollment figures, so let's not be deceived by these good news stories. Unless the country can fill the huge gap in teacher training and recruitment and also provide genuinely free primary education, the goal will never be achieved. At present, it will not be achieved by 2015, so if the country claims to achieve it we need to scrutinize the figures very carefully.


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