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Kenya Homeschool Update
Home School Legal Defense Association recently received a short article from Mary Muriuki, who is our homeschool liaison in Kenya. The article is an update on Kenyan homeschool legal matters and Elimu Nyumbani—a nonprofit organization that supports homeschooling in Kenya. A condensed version appears below.
Homeschooling in Kenya has a long history and was previously practiced by missionaries and foreigners living in the country. Over the last 10 years, a growing number of indigenous Kenyans have turned to this alternative as a means to provide education for their children.
In The Children’s Actof 2001, “education” is not clearly defined, therefore, one can assume that homeschooling is included as a way to provide education.
Since the introduction of free primary education in Kenya in 2003, the government has made increasing effort to ensure that all children who are not receiving primary education be enroll in public schools.
This year there has been significant effort to trace and ensure all primary-age children are enrolled in school. In May 2007, a directive by the government was given to the provincial administration to arrest parents who fail to take their children to school. This was part of a campaign to ensure that 700,000 out-of-school children benefit from the free primary education program. Parents who fail to obey this order would face up to one year in prison. The press covered this directive, which prompted disgruntled family members to report two of our homeschooling families to the administrative office, accusing them of neglecting to educate their children. They were both summoned to the child welfare offices in their respective locations to explain their situations. In both cases, the administration was not familiar with homeschooling and declared the practice illegal, stating that it was not recognized by the Ministry of Education. One of the homeschooling parents served the administration office with a letter from our lawyer highlighting his constitutional right to choose how to educate his child.
Elimu Nyumbani officials held subsequent discussions with two Ministry of Education officials who maintained that homeschooling is illegal in Kenya because it was not recognized by the Ministry of Education. Quoting from the Education Act, it was clear that the official understanding of “education” in the Ministry is that education should only be acquired through the formal setting of a “school” which must have 10 or more students and be registered with the government.
Homeschooling parents of Elimu Nyumbani are determined to exercise their constitutional right to choose the type of education they see fit for their children. So we wrote a letter to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education. Through the discussions mentioned above, it also came to our attention that the Education Act has been in the process of review by a Task Force over the last year to update its archaic laws. Homeschoolers were not aware of this and in the letter, we requested for an opportunity to give input and be included as stakeholders in this process. We are currently awaiting a response from the Permanent Secretary.
It has become clear to homeschoolers that under the current Constitution and Children’s Act, there is a need to establish and clarify the definition of “education” through legal channels if the new Education Act does not include homeschooling as a way to provide education.
Homeschooling in Kenya continues to grow slowly but surely in the last 10 years. As the population of school-going children increases, schools have not been able to accommodate the demand for education. In the past, homeschooling has been for missionaries and foreigners out of necessity, but as indigenous Kenyans become aware of the option, it is becoming more attractive as a solution for education.
Kenyan families are turning to homeschooling for the following reasons:
The public school system is overcrowded, and private schools are too expensive for the majority. Overcrowding in public schools has reduced the quality of education and parents are not satisfied with the current standard of education. On average, the student-teacher ratio is 50 to 1, and in some cases 70 to 1 and 100 to 1 in public schools.
The Kenyan 8-4-4 education system is exam-centered and is producing an elitist society because students are eliminated at primary, secondary and post-secondary due to lack of space to accommodate all qualified students. The system therefore forces the student to focus on memorization of facts without questioning to pass exams instead of understanding, relating, reasoning and applying knowledge. Students are also overburdened with homework and negatively affected by pressure to make the grade, stifling their ability to reason. The result is that students do not have enough time to think and make knowledge functional, practical and relevant to their life and environment. Knowledge remains abstract, subjective and theoretical.
There is an increasing decline in moral values in the school environment due to a degenerating society. Parents are concerned about the negative influence and peer pressure that is affecting their children in an environment out of their control.
The curriculum content of the 8-4-4 system does not match up to international standards of education. Parents are concerned about their children being able to succeed in a global environment as technology is turning the world into one global village. Kenyan students continue to remain in ignorance about the global structures of politics, economics, religion and their place in history. Without clear understanding of these areas, Kenyans will continue to be oppressed third class workers in a global setting instead of contributing to steering Africa out of poverty, disease, dependency, exploitation and under-utilization.
About Elimu Nyumbani
Elimu Nyumbani means “Home School” in Kiswahili, which is the common language spoken in East Africa. Elimu Nyumbani is a nonprofit organization that has been in operation since January 2006. It was created to support the needs of homeschooling families in Kenya and Africa, implementing Kingdom Education and to encouraging the practice of homeschooling in general.
“Kingdom Education” is a universal term that describes non-secular education and is implemented by believers using the Principle Approach. The “Principle Approach” is one that builds a spiritual foundation of education from the scriptures. The original scriptures written in Hebrew and Greek are of paramount importance as all subjects are taught in a holistic way from the perspective of scripture unchanged by man. The word was given to man as the standard for living and thus all things are measured according to it.
“There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against Yahweh.” —Proverbs 21:30
The original scriptures are of major importance because errors in translations have limited believers from understanding the message and experiencing the promises of the word. We therefore refer to the creator using his original name Yahweh and our redeemer as Yeshua. Elimu Nyumbani is working in partnership with Tanakh Academy, which is an institution of higher learning that equips believers to have a working knowledge of the original scriptural languages: Sephardic/Classical Hebrew and Greek. Included also is the history of humanity, progress and foundation of education
Elimu Nyumbani Education System is designed to give parents and students an opportunity to practice Kingdom Education in a world where education is determined by a society far removed from practicing moral principles. Kingdom Education offers educational goals and methods that were originally designed by Yahweh Elohim for man to take dominion over his environment and dwell with his creator.
Educating children to view life from a scriptural point of view requires a community, support, a clear understanding of Kingdom Education and its fundamental principles. Our approach to education is therefore guided by the following principles:
To advance in knowledge parallel to the growth of an individual in stature until maturity
- Education begins with the knowledge of a creator and creation.
- A student must know himself or herself.
- Education is for all mankind,
- The goal of education is to develop the whole person.
- Education is free.
- All are made in the image of the creator and are potential leaders.
- The student learns who and why he or she is.
- Every individual is uniquely designed to contribute to humanity and its development.
- The student learns so that he or she can gain wisdom to act on what is known and attain the fullest expression of his value in life.
- Parents are responsible for the education of their children.
- The home is the center of all education.
- Anyone can teach.
- Education is individualized, making the student independent and productive.
- Education appeals to the internal to inspire and enhance students.
Elimu Nyumbani is therefore structured in a way that will assist parents to practice Kingdom Education and encourage the spread of homeschooling in Kenya and Africa through the following services:
- Providing free, individualized, non-graded education to homeschooling families in scattered community schools in partnership with parents;
- Training parents and others on how to homeschool and provide basic education;
- Providing resources to homeschooling families;
- Developing curriculum for kingdom education;
- Through the community, providing an opportunity for students to be actively involved on Kingdom business and industry in a realistic environment.
Parent training in Africa is essential for the success and spread of homeschooling, because it is a new idea. It is interesting to note that the concept of educating children at home was practiced in Africa traditionally since the beginning of time. However, after the colonization of Africa and subsequent introduction of Western lifestyle and philosophy, the concept was lost and current generations have to be re-educated about their own history, value system and that educational institutions are a recent development in the history of man. Another reason is because parents are not confident of their ability to educate their own children because many believe you have to be trained specifically on how to teach. Even though many parents are educated, teacher training is widely emphasized and untrained teachers are considered substandard by the secular system.
Scattered schools are required to provide support for parents and students in their learning. This is mostly to provide facilities, training, socialization, group activities/learning and a monitoring and evaluation system for non-graded education.
Most homeschool curricula and resources are purchased from America, which makes it too expensive and out-of-reach for the average African family. For this reason, we assist parents by providing resources through a library and recommending locally available material.