SPEECH BY DR. FRED MATIANGI, DURING THE COMMISSIONING OF THE 2018 CLASS OF WINGS TO FLY PROGRAM SCHOLARS ON 4TH JANUARY 2018 AT THE KENYATTA UNIVERSITY

Mr. Peter Munga, the Chairperson of the Equity Group,

Dr. James Mwangi, Managing Director and CEO, Equity Bank,

Lucy Muringo Gichuhi, Senator for South Australia

Education Stakeholders across the spectrum of responsibility,

Young scholars and beneficiaries of the Wings to Fly Program,

Ladies and Gentlemen;

 

This is the first major public event, in the Education Sector for 2018.  It indeed gives me great pleasure to be with here today to preside over this noble exercise of unveiling of young, bright and needy scholars who have been awarded full high school scholarships under the Wings to Fly program. The commissioning ceremony today ushers in the 9th cohort of the Wings to Fly program. I would like to commend Equity Group, the MasterCard Foundation and other supporters for their commitment to this program, which supports secondary and now tertiary education for top performing children from financially challenged backgrounds.

 

I note with appreciation that the number of scholars under this program has significantly grown since its launch in 2011. This year alone, there are 1,000 beneficiaries bringing the total to 19,005 since its inception. This initiative is a good top-up to the Government’s existing programs that promote access to education for all children in Kenya. Kenya continues to make great gains in ensuring that all children are in school.

 

Access to Education

This year the Government has put in place measures to ensure 100% transition from Primary to Secondary School levels. In particular,

  1. The Government has introduced Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) to, among other reasons, provide greater access to secondary school education and help delink admission to schools from bed capacity. To this end, the Government has provided an increased capitation of Kshs 22,244 per student per annum, from the previous Kshs 12,870, to cater for the total cost of day schooling. The Government has already released Kshs 29.5 billion for Free Secondary Education for this year. The Government has further launched a pilot for the day wing program in select schools in Nairobi County.

 

  1. Fees guidelines, which should be adhered to without exception, have been released to school administrators. Parents are advised to only pay the amount in the fees structure and report incidents of any students turned away for not paying the higher fees to their respective Regional Education Coordinators, County Directors of Education and Sub-County Directors.

 

  1. The Government has created adequate places for last year’s KCPE candidates to access secondary education. The Government has dedicated infrastructural grants, amounting to Kshs 6.4 Billion, for the expansion of the capacities in 2,710 regular and 30 special needs existing secondary schools. This has led to the construction of 2,740 classrooms, 349 laboratories and 326 blocks for sanitation facilities, among others.

 

Improving Learning Outcomes

Expanding enrollment for Kenyan learners should also be supported by enhanced education support services. Various reports indicate that Kenya continues to lag behind on expected education level-based learning outcomes. The UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report 2016, for example, highlighted a critical challenge in most African countries: the difficulty of ensuring that schooling leads to learning. More recently the World Development Report 2018: ‘Learning to Realize Education’s Promise’, warned of a learning crisis in global education – schooling without learning. The report stated that “Even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic math”. In response to these findings, we have started to move our focus to the achievement of learning outcomes rather than schooling per se.

 

Provision of Text Books

One initiative in Kenya that seeks to promote the realization of learning outcomes is the provision of textbooks for all students in Kenya public schools. The Ministry is committed to ensuring a 1: 1 text book ratio for all learners in our basic education institutions while at the same time reducing the cost burden incurred by the parents/guardians. This has been occasioned by the current high cost of books and recommendation of many course books by the schools. In 2018, the Ministry has embarked on direct distribution of text books to the school. The Government has already released Kshs 7.5 Billion for printing and supply of text books to all Primary school students in classes 7 and 8, in the subject areas of English, Kiswahili, Science and Mathematics, and Secondary school students in forms 1 to 4, in the subject areas of English, Kiswahili, Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Chemistry.

Education Pathways

Under the Kenya National Qualifications Framework 2014 Act various education and training progression pathways have been created to allow learners to receive training and qualification right from the basic to the most advanced levels of education. Most Kenyans are well acquainted with the education pathway that starts from primary school, progressing to secondary school, and thereafter to the university, upon attainment of a C+ score in the KCSE examination.  This pathway has been overemphasized in Kenya and an illusion has been created that this is a superior education pathway. This illusion has led to a greater demand for a university degree and an overemphasis on attainment of a C+ and above in the KCSE examination as the only qualification for success in life and progression to higher education. Further, the overemphasis on one pathway has brought a mismatch between education and training and the labor market demands, which also call for skilled training vis-a-vis academic degree. This has led to a flood of unemployed university graduates at the expense of the much-needed graduates with skilled and vocation training.

 

It is worth noting that other pathways exist. I urge all Kenyans to familiarize themselves with, and embrace, these other pathways, which include:

 

  • Learners who have attained a C and C- can be admitted into a diploma program and if they so wish can proceed for an undergraduate degree program.
  • Learners who have attained a D and D+ can be admitted into certificate programs and if they so wish can proceed to attain a diploma and thereafter proceed to attain a degree level qualification.
  • Learners who have attained a D- and E can join vocational training institutions and later progress to certificate, diploma and degree level programs as appropriate.

 

As Kenyans we need to see employability beyond a degree qualification. Success can be found within all pathways.

 

Individual Students’ Abilities

Parents, allow your children to grow within their abilities. Allow them to flourish within their identified areas of strengths as they progress in their education. I urge you to refrain from dictating to your children the direction they should take, based on your own aspirations. We need to help our children identify their abilities and provide to them a conducive environment to nurture and flourish in their God given abilities. Similarly, education providers should support learners to identify and grow their individual strengths and abilities.

 

The Government has put mechanisms in place mechanisms to facilitate every learner to optimally grow to their fullness potential and become successful members of society. A child’s talent and ability can be channeled to an appropriate career pathway in line with the available accredited education opportunities. We have multiple examples of talented Kenyans who are pursuing their passion and making careers out of non-conventional areas such as music, comedy, other performing arts and culinary art. We should not look down on careers that are not the traditionally known “white collar jobs”. The world economy is at the point where it needs job creators rather than job seekers. I encourage students to get entrepreneurial skills even as you pursue your academic paths.

 

In my position as a Cabinet Secretary, I have been privileged to interact with many students who are leading self-fulfilled lives, even as they study. I have met students who are engaged in appropriate income generating activities such as hairdressing, jewelry making, baking, cooking and artistry. I cannot tell you how many portraits I have arrived in my office, drawn by young students. It is my desire that these children can turn into well-established entrepreneurs.

 

In Conclusion:

To the Students, congratulations on your outstanding performance that has led you to being identified as a beneficiary of this scholarship. I do want to leave you with this one question: Who do you want to become? Remember the options are limitless and only you can determine your path.

 

To Equity and all other well-wishers and sponsors, I take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you for your sacrificial support to this noble program that elevates the livelihood of our future leaders. It is important to underscore that the support to our children is of utmost importance to us in Government.

 

To all Kenyans of goodwill, as we start the year, let me take this opportunity to thank you for your support in the education sector. This year will see the continued process of education reforms at all levels. I look forward to engaging with you on matters in the education sector and receiving your invaluable input.  Further, I encourage you to grasp hold of the opportunities around you that can help elevate a child’s life and provide a conducive environment for the actualization of their full potential.

 

Thank you, May God Bless You and May God Bless Kenya!