24 March 2016

On 21 March, 2016, civil society organisations in Kenya issued a press release (available here and reproduced below) on the Concluding Observations on Kenya issued by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). The Government of Kenya was reviewed by the CESCR in February 2016. The CESCR raised concern over insufficient State investment in education, inadequacies in the public schooling system and the growth of for profit low-cost schools entrenching segregation and discrimination.  


Another United Nations body raises alarm over “low-cost private schools” and encourages the State to fully implement the APBET Registration Guidelines

PRESS RELEASE – Monday 21st March 2016

Barely one month later, another United Nations body has raised alarm over the rapid increase of "low-cost private schools".

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) on 4th March 2016 published Concluding Observations based on the latest periodic reports submitted by the Government of Kenya. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its State parties. Regarding the right to education, the CESCR expressed its concern that: the State party has not dedicated sufficient resources to finance school facilities and qualified teachers, to ensure effective enjoyment of the right to free primary education for all.’’ It further took issue with the fact that “inadequacies in the public schooling system have led to the proliferation of so-called “low-cost private schools” which has led to segregation or discriminatory access to education particularly for disadvantaged and marginalized children, including children living in informal settlements and arid and semi-arid areas”.

Further, recalling that the Government has the primary responsibility for ensuring the right to education, the Committee urged the State to; take all necessary measures to strengthen its public education sector. The Committee recommends that “The government increases the budgetary allocation to primary education and take all necessary measures to improve the access to and quality of primary education for all without hidden costs…’’

This comes hot on the heels of similar concerns raised in February this year by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child over the lack of regulation in the education sector and sub-standard schools funded by development aid.

According to Abraham Ochieng from the East African Centre for Human Rights, “There is need to ensure that provision of quality, universal and free education firmly remains in control of the State, and that access to that education is ensured for all segments of the society. Private education providers should comply with human rights standards and the laws of the land. They should be held to account, monitored and regulated”

Kenya National Union of Teachers’ (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion pointed out that, “the recommendation to the Government to increase budgetary allocation to primary education should spur the State to address many of the challenges currently faced in public primary schools, including building more schools in areas without enough schools to serve the large population such as the informal settlements, improving facilities and employing more teachers to reduce the high pupil-teacher ratio seen in most public schools.

The Concluding Observations were published after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology launched the Registration Guidelines for Alternative Provision of Basic Education and Training (APBET) which are meant to operationalize the 2009 APBET Policy framework developed as an intervention to increase access to quality basic education and training services for the hard to reach communities such as informal settlements in designated urban areas.

Recognizing the importance of the Guidelines in facilitating the establishment, registration and regulation of APBET institutions, the Committee urges the government to “bring the Registration Guidelines for Alternative Provision of Basic Education and Training in line with Articles 13 and 14 of the Covenant and other relevant international standards; that it ensure that all schools, public, private, formal or non-formal, are registered; and that it monitor their compliance with the guidelines.

Sylvia Mbataru, from Cradle - the Children Foundation observed, “The Guidelines will solve a major impediment that has in the past led to the exclusion of children, youth and adults from fully accessing basic education.  They will ensure inclusiveness and quality education for every Kenyan. The Government should start working on dissemination and implementation of the Guidelines to ensure that for profit, low cost private schools conform.

Pauline Vata, from Hakijamii stated “Article 53 of the Constitution of Kenya puts the responsibility of ensuring enrolment, attendance and completion of school on the Government. For this right to be translated into reality it is absolutely necessary for the State to develop and enforce clear and effective monitoring mechanisms for APBET institutions in order to fully implement the Guidelines. Sufficient funding mechanism, preferably through the equalization fund, must be established to address the needs of the marginalized children.”

Teresa Mutua from the International Commission of Jurists – Kenya Chapter emphasised: “the right to free and basic education under the constitution (article 53) is a right that should be enjoyed equally by all children without direct or indirect discrimination from the State or any individual (article 27). The development of APBET guidelines, as a policy measure, must be implemented to ensure that those institutions that fit under the definition of APBET abide by the criteria and deadlines.






East African Centre for Human Rights (EACHRights)

Economic and Social Rights Centre - Hakijamii

Cradle - The Children Foundation

Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT)

International Commission of Jurists – Kenya Chapter