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New Policy Recognizes Alternative Education
Kenyan homeschoolers Matthew, Mary and Mishel Muriuki.
By Mary Muriuki
In February 2011, the Kenyan Ministry of Education launched a policy that officially allows the provision of Alternative Basic Education and Training in Kenya. This is in recognition of a large number of schools in Kenya that for decades have been providing education to millions of children living under difficult circumstances, such as: orphans, children with disabilities, those in nomadic communities, etc. Most of these schools are operated in conditions of poverty and lack proper classrooms, books, resources and teachers.
This is a milestone in the Kenyan education system because in the past, recognition and financial support has mostly been given to formal schools. With this new policy, the government will now begin to support many non-formal schools.
Alternative education in Kenya allows students more flexibility in learning, as classes may consist of students of different ages who study at their own pace and complete subjects that are relevant to equipping them for life.
Within this policy, homeschoolers have a chance to lobby for their own recognition. Currently, the government’s definition of alternative education is that it is only for those students living under difficult circumstances. A student from a family that can afford to pay for formal schooling would not be expected to enroll in alterative education.
The fact that parents would choose to educate their child at home and use their own resources to provide an alternative, tailor-made education for their child is a concept that has yet to be understood and accepted by the Ministry of Education.
An interesting fact to note is that homeschooling was successfully practiced only two generations ago before colonization by the British, who introduced formal schooling in Kenya. In my family, my grandparents were homeschooled within the African Tribal Education System, but my parents went to missionary schools and subsequently educated my siblings and I in public and private schools.
Having gone through formal schooling, I have reverted back to homeschooling my children because I recognized lost family values and lack of individualized education, amongst other things. The recognition of homeschooling by the government in Kenya remains a hope for the future.
Mary Muriuki is the founder and director of Elimu Nyumbani, a homeschool support group.
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