Education - Kenya's education ministry officials have described poverty as one of the major hindrances to the achievement of universal free primary education.
Speaking during the launch of the national secondary school entrance selection event Monday, Kenyan Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo said while the law in the East African nation was against any effort to deny children access to education, the government was keen to ensure the right to education was maintained across all groups of society.
'My Ministry is committed to enabling Kenyan citizens maximum enjoyment of their rights as enshrined in the constitution. This is evident by recent focus on some critical targeted interventions to realise the education goals,' Kilonzo said.
The minister said the government was keen to 'ring-fence' the funds initially set aside for the country's Free Primary Education (FPE) and Free Day Secondary Education.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki launched the free primary schooling plan in 2003, leading to the enrollment of an additional 8 million school children. In 2008, the government launched the free day secondary schooling.
Kilonzo said his ministry was targeting the Special Needs Education funds to provide education to the disabled children in school.
Education Ministry Permanent Secretary George Godia said as part of efforts to uplift school children from poor families to receive quality education, the government was insisting on school bursaries and the availability of the free schooling funds.
'In recognition of the relationship between poverty and access to education, the government has embarked on strategies aimed at cushioning the poor families against the effects of poverty,' Godia said.
Over time, the cost of education, particularly at secondary school level, has gone up. This has made it hard for some households to place and maintain their children at the secondary school level.
The education ministry also noted an improvement in the level of primary school students transferring to secondary schools despite a shortage of places.
In 2013, the first batch of the Free Primary Education beneficiaries, who include 818,348 candidates, passed through the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), representing an increase of 19,053 students.
Kenyan officials are currently worried about the lack of space in secondary schools, and the government said it would try to improve the number of technical education collages to absorb new primary school dropouts.