Why Kenya should embrace Unesco's initiative

The headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France. [Reuters]

Empirical evidence demonstrates that enhanced funding of education programmes accelerates student outcomes. The implementation of equitable quality education as outlined by Unesco, Unicef and World Bank Group, however, requires enormous funding to enable the government build more modern schools, pay teachers excellent salaries and to supply teaching materials.

The three world bodies recommend that each learning institution should have a school feeding programme because of its significant benefits which include attracting more children to school, promoting health and development of children improved concentration and educational performance, promoting farmers and local vendors.

For this reason, International Institute for Education Planning (IIEP) in partnership with Unesco established a capacity building and funds mobilisation programme to assist governments to achieve education 2030 targets.

Unesco in partnership with IIEP in 2016 jointly developed a methodological guide on funding education in developing countries. Since then, have each set up a National Education Account (NEA). Kenya ignored the initiative. Cote d’ Ivoire, Guinea, Laos, Nepal, Uganda, Senegal, Togo, Vietnam and Zimbabwe have since established NEAs which have enabled them to mobilise large amounts of educational funds.

The aim of NEAs is not only to ensure greater transparency in estimating the volume of resources mobilisation for the education sector, but also to report on their use. The next government should work closely with Unesco and IIEP to set up the NEA.

Challenges and needs will be identified and strategies to address the same set in place. It is equally important to note that education in Kenya remains insufficiently financed despite increased government spending on the same from 20 to 26 per cent.

Households are also deeply involved in financing education. In the 2020/2021 Financial Year, the education sector was allocated Sh487.7 billion, while in the current fiscal calendar, the sector was allotted Sh503.9 billion.

It is saddening that recent increases in public education spending have been associated with relatively small improvement in education outcomes. Initiatives through public private partnership to supplement the efforts of both levels of government in provision of education have faced headwinds because of lack of comprehensive policy, proper legal and institutional frameworks. Kenya has no choice but to establish NEA as this would help mobilise funds and formulate strategies that would assist to address challenges faced in implementation of Education 2030 Agenda.

It is imperative for the country to find additional and alternative resources to improve the financing of education, hence the most viable means is to establish NEA and entrench it into law. Education policymakers in collaboration with Unicef, among other international bodies, should therefore explore three areas – public resources, external aid, and innovative funding. This will guarantee improved financing of educational programmes.

-Mr Sossion is a member of parliamentary committees on Education and Labour

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