In 1990, the government of Kenya bowed to a decade of pressure from World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce government funding in the sector of education. World bank and IMF pressure henceforth led to reduction of expenditure on education with funds initially spent on education being allocated to sectors that had hitherto not been catered sufficiently.
On the other hand the inclusion of cost sharing in the 1990's increased the cost of parents and guardians educating their children. This is responsible for the decline in enrollment rates at all levels of education. For example in 1974 a presidential decree declared free primary education up to grade four in response to the 1961 Addis Ababa conference on education for all (EFA). Following this decree the number of school-going children at primary level suddenly doubled from 0.9 million to 1.8 million. Today there are more than seven million children in Kenya's Primary Schools.
With the tight implementation of the Kamunge (1988) recommendations on cost-sharing in education, enrolment at primary level declined from 95.4% in 1988 to 76.7% in 1997 as indicated in the National Development Plan for 1997-2001. This reveals a positive relationship between decrease in enrollment and the policy changes that led to substantial withdrawal of government funding of education in the 1990's.
Consequently, I argue in this paper that the declining rates of enrollments at all levels of education are a direct result of the structural adjustment policies in the education sector instigated by World Bank and IMF in the 1990's. I further argue that since these results are negative, the current attempt to downsize the teaching force is not only complicating the effort to increase enrollment, but also it is based on cost-benefit analyses which are not accurate especially when applied to a complex service industry such as education. I conclude that strategies that have been successful elsewhere are not necessarily appropriate for Kenya. Any meaningful interventions strategies in Kenya's education system must be based on research data from within the country's education system.
According to Gonzales (1999), Psacharopoulos and Woodhall (1985), and Psacharopoulos (1994), the World Bank/IMF policies support projects that guarantee direct net economic returns by productivity, and indirect returns or externalities (e.g. social rate of returns in education). They should also respond to changes in government revenue from higher taxes paid, meet the demands for skilled labor, private demand for education, and interregional distribution. The projects should also ensure appropriate distribution of the financial benefits gained from education, poverty reduction, and inter-sectoral linkages.
However, evidence from Kenya and other African countries indicates that in the last two decades, World Bank has been more conscious to promote education projects that ensure higher rates of social returns as opposed to private rate of returns. World bank (1985), Psacharopoulos and Woodhall (1985) studies revealed that funding higher education led to higher private rates of return as compared to funding basic education that led to higher social rate of returns. However the relationship between higher rates of social returns at basic education level and the role played by a highly qualified teaching staff emerging from higher education remains elusive cue to the arguments against public funding of higher education for teachers. For instance, attempts by Pritchett & Filmer (1997) to attribute higher returns at Basic education level to facilities such as textbooks, furniture, and teacher-performance in the classroom are quite focused and accurately described using quantitative values. Results of their analysis indicated that only 4 out of 43 studies recently conducted in developing countries found a significant relationship between teacher satisfaction and student achievement. The analysis also indicated that additional investment in books and instructional materials yields 10 to 100 times more than additional spending on teachers' wages and maintaining smaller classes. They concluded that teachers play a limited role in the success of learning as compared to facilities such as textbooks, furniture, and library. Pritchett and Filmer (1997) also asserted that,
The actual allocation of educational expenditures must include the fact that educators have enormous influence over allocation of spending and that spending is biased towards those educational inputs that also directly increase the welfare of teachers. (p. 45).
Consequently they suggested reduction of spending on teachers' salaries and allowances and greater spending on physical facilities. Their views were adapted in 1997 by World Bank as policy in Kenya and other developing countries vide policy research working paper No. 1795.
Pritchett and Filmer (1997) based their arguments on incomplete analysis of the teacher-variables responsible for quality in education. The studies they analyzed did not address non-classroom roles of teachers such as curriculum designing, developing and publishing instructional materials, counseling students, and liaison with the community and other organizations engaged by teachers as an integral part of their productivity in the profession. The analysis also excluded studies on teachers' reactions on their own experiences, and the views of administrators such as head teachers and education officers regarding the roles and performance of teachers. It is thus necessary to establish the extent to which the social returns at all levels of education result from teachers' expertise and performance by focusing on the entire school system instead of narrowly relying their classroom activities.
Similarly, Pritchett and Filmer's (1997) analysis indicates that higher learning achievement is possible with large but well-equipped classes, irrespective of higher student-teacher ratios. This view is hardly tenable especially when the teacher s' role includes paying attention to each learner's different needs. Furthermore, such an analysis is based on the assumption that presence of materials such as textbooks guarantees their use. Disagreeing with this view, Gonzales (1999) posits that,
School administrators' policy may render use of text materials unnecessary, e.g. urban primary schools in Namibia were not permitted to use new provided textbooks and teachers abandoned use of required textbooks as they could not carry them (p.125).
The cost-benefit (CBA) strategy consistently and conservatively used by World Bank and IMF in evaluating education projects in Africa has limited ability to diagnose all benefits accruing from the role of teachers in the projects. Thus the econometric input- output model applied to schooling emphasizes dependence the output of schooling (i.e. earnings of the educated portion of the society) in measuring teachers' performance (Makau, 1986; Manda, 1997). In this case, teachers' salaries are interpreted as the cost or input. This implies that no deliberate attempt is made to determine the actual effort that teachers put into the learning process. Gonzales (1999, p. 119) contends,
To determine the net social value of primary education projects in Africa, the World Bank must reduce its dependence on traditional quantitative measures and incorporate more pedagogical and sociological methodology combined with specific goals and increased field monitoring and assessment.
The role of teachers in schools is thus complex but indispensable. It does not suffice to understand it in purely economic terms. There are three inescapable things about the profession that can hardly be reconciled in the policies preferred by the Word Bank/IMF. These include,
Teacher recruitment, qualifications, and salaries. Some governments insist that all teachers in both government and community schools be employed by the public service. This does of course require those governments to have sufficient budgets; but it allows the governments to control teacher recruitment, qualifications and salaries. Usually this is done in the name of quality, but political and other factors may also be involved (http://www2.unesco.org/wef/en-leadup/findings_community%20partnerships%204.shtm.
This implies that the teaching profession is, as well, a social and political hotbed. The success of school programs and education projects depend not only on the actual roles that teachers perform in school, but also on the social and political contexts in which they work.
In 1990, the government of Kenya bowed to a decade of pressure from World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce government funding in the sector of education. In this respect, the World Bank/IMF recommended policies that included the following:
In preparation for this, the government had appointed the Kamunge Education Commission (1988) to review Kenya's education with a view to instituting changes in the next decade (1990 - 1999) and beyond.
One of the most controversial but memorable recommendations of this commission was the cost-sharing policy in education. Of course the idea of cost sharing was not new. It had been in operation since independence (Bigsten, 1984; Bogonko, 1992). For example the government had been paying teachers and support staff as well as running tuition and sometimes boarding expenses of schools, colleges and universities since 1967. However, parents purchased uniform, stationery, and shoes as well as paid fees (tuition and boarding) in schools where government sponsorship was limited or non-existent. They also catered for their children's health care and insurance (Mitha, 1995). Nevertheless, the most remembered of Kamunge's recommendations was the need for massive withdrawal by the government from education funding. It succinctly stated that beneficiaries of education should incur most of its cost.
The Kamunge commission report was accepted by the parliament and used to prepare and implement the Sessional Paper no. 6 (1988). The World Bank, through the International Development Agency (IDA), supports the implementation of the structural adjustment policies outlined in the paper. The policies include, among others, the need to enhance, improve, and strengthen the of teaching science, mathematics, and practical subjects at primary and secondary school levels; and to strengthen education sector management, planning, budgeting, and information systems. These aspects profoundly concern management of teachers' professional practice and remuneration.
World bank and IMF pressure during the last two decades therefore led to reduction in the rate of growth of expenditure on education especially at primary and secondary school levels. A report prepared by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and Society for International Development (SID) in 2001 indicates that recurrent expenditure on education at independence in 1963 was 18%, 1983 (30%), and 1996 (40%). Although education still claims the larger part of the recurrent budget, this trend reveals a slight reduction in the rate of growth of spending on education. However the low reduction rate of growth in spending after 1983 can be attributed to unprecedented expansion in University education which leaped university budget by 20% of the total education budget in 1991 and 16% in 1996 (IEA & SID, 2001). The reduction in the rate of growth of expenditure on education implies that funds that would be spent on education went to other sectors of the economy (e.g. health, industry, and agriculture) that had hitherto not been catered sufficiently. To some extend, this achieved the policies pursued by World Bank/IMF through reduction of spending on education.
Although gross enrollments have been increasing steadily, the rate of increase has generally been declining steadily in the 1990's. For example in 1974 a presidential decree declared free primary education up to grade four in response to the 1961 Addis Ababa education for all conference. Following this decree the number of school-going children at primary level suddenly doubled from 0.9 million to 1.8 million (Bogonko, 1992; Otiende, 1992). A similar trend was observed in1978 when the same decree affected grades 5-7. This explains the massive dropout witnessed prior to 1978 when fees were required in order to join standard 5-7.
With the tight implementation of the Kamunge recommendations in the 1990's, enrolment at primary level has declined from 95.4% in 1988 to 76.7% as indicated in the National Development Plan (1997-2001). According to IEA and SID (2001),
The significant drop in enrolment in 1985 at both primary and secondary school levels arose from the introduction of cost sharing in education. Relatively fewer children enrolled in school, and a number of those already in school dropped out because they could not meet the costs of education (p.157).
This reveals a positive relationship between decrease in enrollment and the policy changes that led to withdrawal of government funding of education in the 1990's.
Further statistics show that 7 224 200 pupils enrolled at primary schools in Kenya in 1996 were serviced by 184 393 teachers. During the same year, 658 253 students enrolled in secondary schools were serviced by 41 280 teachers (Abagi, 1997, 46-51). This meant that the teacher-student ratios for primary and secondary schools were 1:39 and 1.16 respectively. Increased student enrollment and the natural attrition among teachers through death and retirement from service implied that more teachers would be recruited in the subsequent years. Yet the World Bank policy of restructuring the civil service through retrenchment led to suspension of teacher recruitment in 1998. As a result it was recommended that,
Some 8,505 teachers should be redistributed to cater for the areas, which are understaffed by 8,264 personnel. World Bank statistics show that most schools are operating on a pupil/teacher ratio of 30:1 in primary schools and 16:1 in secondary. But the standard ratio is 40:1 for primary and 30:1 for secondary schools(http://www.nationaudio.com/News/DailyNation/19062000/Features/Features6.html).
On the other hand the inclusion of cost sharing in the 1990's increased the cost of parents and guardians on education of their children. This is responsible for the decline in enrollment rates at all levels of education and therefore decline in teacher-student ratios. The subsequent demand by World Bank and IMF to resize and retrench the teaching staff in the 1990's is also a function of decreased rates of enrolment in schools. In a nutshell, the World Bank IMF cost-sharing policies systematically led to decline in enrollment, followed by the need to reduce teaching staff. This also implies that if the enrolment rates had increased steadily, there would be a greater need for teachers during the same period.
Thus, the current situation puts to doubt the possibility of achieving 100% basic literacy in Kenya. If World Bank/IMF policies had emphasized long term, strategic, and regionally based investment criteria in education, the present scenario would be predicted before the implementation of the Kamunge report in the early 1990's.
In the wake of the declining enrollments, strict control of teacher teacher-recruitment in the last four years has led to deterioration of education standards in Kenya. The most hard hit subjects are languages and sciences whose performance reached the lowest ever in the year 2001 (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology report, 2001). While the government acknowledged shortage of teachers in these special areas, it is hasty to attribute the situation to the ruthless World Bank policies emphasizing reduction of expenditure on teachers' salaries and allowances.
Apart from enrolment, deterioration of learning environment, degeneration of facilities, despondency among parents and teachers as well as general doubt regarding the future of education, have all culminated into poor performance (Abagi, 1997). As a result, the quality and relevance of Kenya's education are in question. In fact most accusations against the 8-4-4 system of education have more to do with the low government expenditure in education rather than the curriculum itself. The practical- oriented 8-4-4 system established in 1984 is more costly compared to its predecessor, the 7-4-2-3 system. Yet its establishment coincided with reduction in government funding toward the education sector.
The president of the World Bank, James Welfensohn (World Bank, 2000) identified the "global village" as an advantage arising from liberalization in all sectors of the economy including education. Although this is quite reasonable, it is as well reasonable to acknowledge the pivotal role of teachers in developing the human resources that innovate technology which, in turn, makes "global village hood" a reality. What is the purpose of celebrating the achievement of a global village whose latest educational technologies many African countries neither use nor have access to? This is a costly enterprise, which cannot be achieved when World Bank and IMF are calling for reduction of expenditure on education and retrenchment of more than 40,000 of Kenya's 247,000 teachers.
Already, teachers in Kenya are poorly paid for vital and more expensive services they are provide in schools. For example a 150-200% realistic salary increment awarded in 1997 has yet to be implemented. This delay, related to the demands of World Bank and IMF has a positive relationship with the poor morale and despair among teachers, which ultimately lowers quality and relevance of education. Records at the Teachers Service Commission (TSC 2001) indicate that teachers' salaries in Kenya range from Kenya shillings 5,000 to 35,000 (approximately US$ 63.3 to US$ 443.0). This is far below minimum wage for unskilled labor in the United States.
Even before the 40,000 teachers are retrenched, the TSC records indicate that many districts in Kenya including Turkana, Lodwar, Transmara and the entire North Eastern Province are experiencing shortage of teachers. For example Narok District needs 400 teachers, Nyanza Province requires 1,800, Eastern Province 700, and Central Province 800. All other parts of the country at least need some teachers. The practice of using the Teacher-Student ratio used by the TSC is defective and unrealistic. For instance, a school with only 100 students enrollment will still need teachers for all subjects irrespective of the number of students enrolled in each subject. These teachers will take all recommended teaching hours but the teacher - student ratio may be as low as 1:5. This is not a justification for a teacher in another populous school to teach a class of 60 students (ratio, 1:60). Yet this is how ratios work! The cost of teachers is therefore inescapable and has to be acknowledged and accepted in these circumstances.
Decentralization of the management activities of the TSC is another strategy suggested by World Bank/IMF to reduce high level corruption and bureaucratic delays in teacher recruitment, employment and re-sizing in Kenya. In the year 2001, the TSC responded accordingly by delegating a substantial part of the teacher recruitment procedures to secondary school boards of governors. However, the new employment procedures outlined by the TSC are not likely to enhance employment of the right candidates on merit. The greatest weakness of the guidelines is the inclusion of the boards of governors in the recruitment process.
Most school boards of governors (BOG) still constitute a large number of illiterate members. This has opened a way for nepotism and tribalism to again access in schools. The latest edition of the terms conditions and regulations governing teachers' recruitment, employment and dismissal is outdated and inconsistent with the policies suggested by World Bank on decentralization. As a result, the TSC relies on circulars and meeting minutes to direct registration, recruitment, and employment of teachers.
World Bank/IMF have a reputation for pursuing quality in all their socio-economic and political endeavors in the World. Their support often takes the form of professional advice and sponsorship of research on various education systems. Developing African countries are usually compelled to take advice provided by the World Bank in order to receive financial assistance (Eicher, 1984b; World Bank, 2001). However, in some cases such advice is inappropriate and inapplicable. For instance, whereas the concept of cost sharing is a novel idea in education, the manner in which has been implemented in Kenya is largely responsible for the negative results obtained: decline in enrolment and suspension of teacher recruitment. Thus, it appears that in the past decade, World Bank/IMF profit motive surpassed all the other commitments, particularly in Kenya. In the area of education it will, perhaps, be worthwhile if they considered the following issues while calling for reforms.
Poverty is real in Africa and this condition is unlikely to change very soon. According to Abagi (1997), macro-economic analyses for Kenya indicate that high-level poverty is on the increase with 47% of the population living below poverty line. A World Bank (2001) report also indicates that,
Africa's share of global poverty since has risen and a growing proportion of Africans cannot meet their basic needs. More than 240 million people live on less that $1 a day (p. 15).
This implies that many Kenyans cannot afford basic needs such as education, food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare. Escalating war and diseases, partly resulting from ignorance in many parts of Africa, exacerbate this condition. Henceforth, they cannot afford to hire teachers in schools where shortage abounds following the implementation of the world Bank/IMF-led policies on reduction of the civil service. For instance adult education programs that were vibrant in Kenya during the1980's collapsed in the 1990's due to reduction of government funds. Massive government spending, grants and subsidies, especially towards basic education, must thus be re-considered as a way of educating the masses.
Modern technology in education (E-mail, online instruction, etc) is expensive and its adoption by many African countries cannot be achieved through reduction of the budget on education. Yet most current journals and other publications can be accessed more conveniently through internet. This poses the need to not only re-train teachers in education technology but also to remunerate them in such a way as to retain them in the teaching profession.
According to Shiundu & Omulando (1992), mostly young and better-trained teachers opt for better paying jobs elsewhere and hence the best of their effort cannot be realized in the education sector. They state that,
Wastage as experienced in most developing countries results from the fact that teaching is taken as a bridging occupation into which people go prior to settling down to more a lucrative and satisfying job. Many trainees in colleges are there because it was the only alternative to staying unemployed. Universally, causes seemingly leading to high attrition rates, especially in developing countries are poor pay, poor prospects, and poor professional environment (p. 237-238).
The effect of cost sharing in education since the introduction of Structural Adjustment Policies (SAP) in the late 1980's has largely been negative. Further effort to adjust funding in education must be considered on the basis of evidence from the last ten years of SAP's implementation. Rather than call for further reduction of funding to the education sector, the World Bank and IMF should direct their effort to research of the SAP's performance in the last ten years, most of which have had a devastating effect on this sector.
Retrenchment is costly and cannot be achieved careful and expert planning. It must include an education plan, which can deal with the expected ramifications of retrenchment such as dropout, wastage and teacher-student ratios among others. Otherwise the policies are nurturing class structure by ensuring that only those who can afford the cost of education acquire it. Since most of Africa's population cannot afford education it is also clear that the SAPs are institutionalizing poverty in Africa. Court and Kinyanjui (1985) provide a tenable suggestion,
Recruitment, salary, and promotion policies that encourage the selection, training, and rewarding of the most capable administrators and teachers, and in-service training measures that permit their constant refurbishment, can go a long way in improving the quality of education through strengthening teacher morale even where finances are scarce (p.38).
In order to avoid entrenching questionable employment criteria the, TSC should allow open debate to improve the current guidelines on recruitment and re-sizing of teachers. Decentralization of the recruitment process of teachers is an appropriate idea. To guard against its abuse the TSC should make the following considerations.
First, TSC should exercise carefully controlled decentralization. All applications for employment should be made directly to the TSC. Applicants should state three schools of their choice in order of preference. The TSC should then prepare a short list on merit. Lists of shortlisted applicants will then be sent to district interview committees. These committees should interview only short listed applicants and present their results to the TSC.
Secondly, the district interview committees may be composed of people who should include the provincial director of education or a representative, the district education officer, TSC staffing officers in the district, and a representative from the secretariat in Nairobi. A commissioner or a representative should chair the committees. There may be two separate committees for recruitment of secondary and primary school teachers. In the absence of a commissioner, the Provincial Director of Education (PDE) and District Education Officer (DEO) should chair the two committees respectively. Alternatively and preferably, the TSC should contract private, independent, and competent human resource consultants to recruit the best teachers (Abagi, 1997).
Gradual and long-term evaluation strategies should be preferred in implementing countrywide teacher recruitment, employment, retrenchment, and re-training projects. A minimum ten-year time-line should be considered for funding. During this period, the parties involved in funding and implementation should jointly and continuously monitor, evaluate, and review the progress of the projects. Changes on the original plans should be made strictly on the basis of such periodic evaluation reports. In order to ensure the success of such projects, economic valuation of intended programs on teacher education, employment and their improvement must begin at the school level. They should also emphasize practice and output rather than the economic theories and assumptions on which they are based. Gonzales (1999) provides caution regarding the strategies preferred and used by World Bank/IMF as follows,
It is the combination of these overly optimistic predictions and the chaotic pseudo-science of cost-benefit methodology based on questionable to poor data that seriously undermines the credibility of, and calls into question the utility of maintaining the current appraisal methods for education-oriented investment projects in Africa and throughout the world" (p. 125).
I have argued in this paper that the world Bank/IMF continue to rely greatly on cost- benefit analyses as means of assessing the worth and productivity of education projects they sponsor. I have also argued that the decline in enrollments rates at all levels of education in Kenya in the 1990s are a direct result of the structural adjustment policies (SAP) in the education sector instituted by World Bank and IMF. I further argue that since these results are not positive, the current attempt to downsize the teaching force is not only complicating the effort to increase enrollment, but also it is based on cost-benefit analyses which are not accurate especially when applied to a complex service industry such as education. I conclude that strategies that have been successful elsewhere are not necessarily appropriate for Kenya. Any meaningful interventions strategies in Kenya's education system must be based on research data from within. World Bank and IMF would thus, be more realistic to approach the dream of a global village by emphasizing the strengthening of the teaching profession in order to develop creative minds among Africans. Whichever way this is done the result might surprisingly be a "global homestead" instead of James Wolfensohn's (2001) celebrated global village, which systematically marginalizes education in Africa.
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First Online Edition: 23 May 2002
Last Revised: 23 May 2002