The Economics of Tribalism and Peace-Building in Kenya

While tribalism discussions in Kenya are not new, contemporary tribalism challenges and undertones present new and /or more acute challenges to, as well as some opportunities for, securing and sustaining peace-building. The core peace-building principles should provide a normative basis to guide peace-building practitioners to secure the best environment for all. Peace building should be done by all for all. More importantly it is best to rethink and redefine the drivers of tribalism in Kenya. Tribalism is pervasive. It has the power to change people’s way of thinking and doing things. It can drive a country to major conflicts or war. With their multiplicity of other development challenges, tribalism in some developing countries (Kenya) poses some of the toughest development challenges.
The Kenya Vision 2030, the country’s new development blueprint aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrializing, “middle-income country providing a high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030”. It envisions an equitable society that is politically, economically, socially cohesive and integrated, where the citizens have a shared vision and sense of belonging while appreciating diversity. Have we reached this level? The Kenya National Policy on Peace Building and Conflict Management founded in six pillars has continued to guide the process of institutionalizing peace. Several infrastructural frameworks have been created at both the national and county levels. Have we reached this level? Sessional Paper No.2 of 2012, the national policy on cohesion and integration, aims to “ensure that Kenya becomes an equitable society that is politically, economically and socially and integrated, where citizens have a shared vision and a sense of belonging while appreciating diversity. Have we reached this goal? How far are we? There have been several notable successes in tackling tribalism negativity in the country. Several strategies through the Kenya Cohesion and Integration Commission have been implemented. The Status of Social Cohesion report, 2014 ( –highlights/status-of-social-cohesion-in-kenya.html. ) encompassed 6 dimensions of social cohesion: trust, peace, equity, diversity, prosperity and national identity.

Indices Percentages (%)
Trust 43.7
Peace 40.1
Diversity 88.6
Identity 72.7
Prosperity 60.5
Equity 34.6
Social Cohesion Index 56.6
(Source: KCIC, 2013)
Nationally, the Social Cohesion Index (SCI) was estimated at 56.6 per cent. The government of Kenya should be concerned with the lowest percentages; trust, peace, and equity. In an ideal situation SCI should be 100%. Judging from the sporadic community conflicts in the country, there are gaps that urgently need a redress moving forward. Working on the 43.4 % remaining ( for social cohesion to reach 100% ) should be a major priority.
Social cohesion is imperative for sustained development. If Kenya is to embrace Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), negative tribalism challenges must be solved. Tribalism has the propensity to disrupt peaceful coexistence. It is important to create and keep peace at all costs. There is need to recognize that peace is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for social cohesion. Peace building is an intervention that can be designed to prevent the start or resumption of violent conflict by creating sustainable peace. For peace to have sustained dividends it is important to develop sustainable institutions that guard and /or maintain normalcy when peace is disrupted. In order to build consensus among different stakeholders on peaceful coexistence, there is need for engagement forums that include policy dialogue aimed at creating an opening for reform agenda on tribalism dynamics and narratives. Unless we come together as a country and talk to ourselves we will never get help from the world. Lessons learnt are many in Africa where there has been protracted conflicts. Home grown solutions are the best. Prevention is better than cure! With the 42 tribes already divided by geographical, social and political affiliations, tribal undertones has continued to divide us further along tribal lines and making us retreat to our tribal cocoons. Some children only know about their tribes when they are reminded by parents or communities surrounding them. The youth and adults have the responsibility to heal this country from tribal animosity. The challenges that propagates tribalism in the Kenyan environment are both complex and dynamic. Though historical and environmental factors may serve as imminent warning signs, they are only part of a multidimensional cobweb that may exacerbate tribal animosity and insecurity.
The fight against tribalism has a moral imperative perspective. Some ethical responsibility is needed by all the people of goodwill. There is need to develop a framework for thinking about different ways that the government and the private sector can work with other stakeholders to prevent exacerbating tribalism challenges in future. Indeed, the empowerment of the youth with more rigorous and reliable information is a key pillar for reform. Social media forums have become a major platform for engagement and information gathering. The government should take the advantage to the core to provide the best wanted information to fight tribalism. Youth oversight and participation over the decision-making and functioning of the public sector can be a crucial counterweight and instrument for combating tribalism.
We can only pretend that all is well. It is not well when our education demand and supply has had to suffer from tribal thinking. Many parents have developed unwritten rules that their children would rather join private schools than cross regional boundaries in search of a school. It is common sense that after the 2007/2008 Post-Election Violence the country has not healed uniformly.
Undoubtedly we face challenges along the way as a country; some more complex than others but none that cannot be overcome. The leadership must come from within. A critical mass that cannot be ignored is the youth. A necessary component of successful strategies to deal with tribalism and all its accompaniments is an effective method for including and engaging with the youth. There is need to reverse trends and involve youth in fighting tribalism in Kenya. The youth play a crucial role in the world’s ability or failure to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Youth are a great human capital that cannot be ignored in peace policy design and implementation for development. With the right mix of policies, youth demographic numbers gives an opportunity that can be tapped to enhance more economic development and promote peace –building and health co-existence. Both macro and micro-level strategies must be developed to support the youth bulges.

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Kenya Dilemma in Financing Education

The Kenya Constitution of 2010 and the Basic Education Act 2013 recognize Free and Compulsory Basic Education as a basic right to all children. The government has committed to providing free primary education and subsidized secondary sector since 2003 and 2008 respectively. The school fee abolition initiatives seek to accelerate progress toward quality education for all children by supporting all education stakeholders in provision and maintaining education momentum in education.
In Kenya, efforts to reduce or abolish school fees are, in fact, second attempts. The first efforts were initiated through the establishment of the Ominde Commission in 1964, to chart the course of the development of education sector. The commission emphasized the need for universal primary education. Partial implementation of this recommendation started in 1974 and covered standards 1-4. It was later extended to standards 5-7 in 1978. This initiative resulted in massive enrollments in primary schools. The gross enrollment rate (GER) level increased from 50 % in 1963 to 105 % in 1989. However, in the same year the government introduced Cost Sharing Policy (CSP) as part of the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs). This to a large extent negatively affected the gains that were already done in enrollments. The CSP stipulated that local communities, including parents, were to construct schools and finance other projects in both primary and secondary public schools. In addition, they were required to pay non-teaching staff salaries at the schools. The government main responsibility was to train and employ teachers. The task of mobilizing funds was therefore left to school management and parents. Direct and indirect levies were introduced by schools. There were more than 10 different levies paid by parents depending with the school.
The well-intended cost sharing policy, did not cushion poor households, who could not raise the money and other countless other levies imposed by the schools. Many children dropped out of primary schools. By 2002, GER had fallen to 88.2 % from 105 % in 1989. The transition rate to secondary sector was less than 60 %. In the run-up to the 2002 general elections, the National Rainbow Coalition Party (NARC) made the provision of Free Primary Education (FPE) part of its election manifesto. True to its promise, the NARC government introduced FPE in January 2003. And as was expected in a country where a substantial proportion of children were out of school, the response was overwhelming. In many schools, the head teachers found themselves with more children to enroll than their capacity could hold. The move witnessed a 10% increase in enrollment in primary schools nationally. A record of 1.3 million children registered in various schools across the country, raising the enrollment from 5.9 million in 2002 to 7.2 million in 2003. In 2013 , there were 10.2 million children enrolled in both public and private schools, with 8.1 million enrolled in public schools.
The government realized that the gains of FPE was negated at secondary level. The transition to secondary sector was very low. In 2008, the government introduced subsidized secondary sector (SSE). The introduction of SSE saw the increase of students from 1.4 million in 2009 to 2.1 million in 2013. The secondary GER has been on upward trend since 2009. The GER increased from 45.3% (NER; 35.8 %) in 2009 to 56.2 % (NER; 39.5 %) in 2013. From these figures, very many children are not in school. One would want to evaluate critically the government effort on fees and the achievement of the intended goals of access and survival rates. The transition rate is still low. Meanwhile, the government introduced capitation grant where every student received KShs 10,265 which was revised to KShs 12,870 late last year, 2014. To cater for the full cost of maintaining a student in school additional fee was recommended depending with the school category. Initially the government had recommended boarding schools to charge KShs 18,625. Unfortunately, most boarding schools charge in excess of an average of KShs 70,000 per year. This negatively affects access since majority of parents cannot afford the amount. In 2014, the government appointed a task force to advice the government on fees. In line with the task force recommendations, day schools should charge a maximum of KShs 11,105, boarding KShs 38,969 and special schools KShs 22,830. However, the recommended new fees have not been gazetted and the schools were allowed to charge 2014 fees which to a greater extent lack uniformity. This has remained as a loophole that principals exploit to charge high fees. Other principals argue that the government has always issued “fees guidelines” to help them set the fee path.
There seems to be some confusion on the right amount to pay. Apart from the direct fees to schools, there other additional costs that make educating a child in Kenya very expensive. January, 2015, I met a parent who was shopping for a form 3 female student. The list of items was well written and it seemed most of them were necessities;
• Omo …big
• Kiwi… big
• Bar Soap
• 5 Tissue
• Tooth paste…big
• Tooth Brush
• 5 Bathing soap…any
• Padlocks…2 replace lost ones
• Lotion
• Vaseline
• Dettol
• Sanitary Pads …4 packets
• Spray
• Soap dish
• Others
o Weetabix
o Crips
o Watch @200KShs
o Biscuits
o Stasoft

This list of items could drastically change if the student is a form 1 especially at the entry level. Quick calculation on the shopping list totaled about 3,000. This is in addition to bus-fare to and from school; opening, during mid-term break and closing school. On average parents are spending an average of KShs 50,000 per term per student. This can easily translate into over KShs150, 000. The average household size in Kenya is about 5 children. The Big question remains, despite all the government efforts, in a country where a significant majority earn less than a dollar per day, how many parents can afford to retain a child in a secondary school in Kenya? How many children per household can finish the education cycle comfortably? Given that majority of parents finance education through loans from different sources, this becomes a vicious cycle? Is it a worth investment given the high level of opportunity cost caused by both general and educated unemployment? Is the government goal of access to primary and consequent transition to secondary sector sustainable?
The financing dilemma challenges time-honored public education expenditure and cost sharing policy and its usefulness as a panacea for quality education provision. It raises profound questions about the adequacy of the imported models of education financing to developing countries where they may not be appropriate given the social, cultural and economic context.
Comments are welcome

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Happy Birthday

Dear President, Kenyatta.
Happy Birthday,
On this special day, I hope you’ll take a few moments to reflect on the miracle of life and the importance of good health.
Four days ago, I wrote the same words to my daughter who is now 16 years on 22nd October 2014 . I was able to take a card and a small cake to her in school. No doubt she got excited that she was able to share a small cake with her friends. I am sure you are excited for having this day in your life. Wish you all the best.
She reminded me that you share the birthday the same week, 4 days apart. You are now 37 years older than her. You are HER president at 53 years old. She would like to reflect on the 37 years you are ahead of her and what Kenya has in store for her especially in education sector.
Looking ahead she would wish to finish her studies in record time and either employ herself or be employed. For this to happen, barriers and promises should be well understood and kept.
If she was able to deliver a card to you, these are some of the words that would preoccupy her mind in writing a birthday card to you…
Happy Birthday President,
My name is ……. 16 years old. You are 37 years older than me. Allow me to express my wishes during your birthday…
I note that since independence, the Kenyan government has placed education at the center stage of national development. The government ratified the recommendations of the 1990 Jomtien World Conference on Education for All and the Dakar Framework for Action and also endorsed the goals of Millennium Summit (2000). Furthermore, the Children’s Act of 2001 grants every Kenyan child the right to education.
The increased demand for education in Kenya at all levels demonstrates the inherent value of education investment. I hope that the government will take deliberate policy measures and actions to fulfill the obligation and especially to tackle major barriers and challenges that might make me and my school mates not realize our dreams within the 37 years Gap.
Expanding both primary and secondary schooling is of fundamental importance to our lives and it is significant as it is pro-poor when it is free tuition. There is significant enrollment  created by subsidized secondary sector since 2008, this is just half the story, it only explains who enters but does not reveal who advances, succeeds, and complete schooling. Survival and completion rates are key elements and make up the rest of the story. Many of us are risk of not completing the education cycle.
Mr. President, girls often have higher dropout rates than boys in many circumstances. I am lucky to be in school, my age mates may not be as lucky for many reasons.
The relationship between poverty and enrollment and retention is well pronounced at the secondary school level. Poor families must make choices about whom to send to school, often to the expense of girls. I have some of my school mates who wish the school calendar year does not stop. They eat well, they dress well, they shower every day, and they are not at risk of being married off in exchange of other assets. School costs to some parents are punitive. The fees charged by some schools is many times more than the income of a poor family combined. Girls suffer from these realities more than boys. The opportunity costs associated with educating girls is so high. Some girls are expected to work more than boys, look after younger siblings, care for the household, and sometimes be the mother to others especially where the parents are sick. Some girls shy from breaking for mid-term break as they are likely to come back to school without any shopping done for them. It is intimidating when other girls report with bags and bags of shopping.
My wish is that in your wisdom and governance, you shall impress on everyone to view education of a girl not as a loss, or at best, an investment in someone else’s family, but as an investment worth investing in. Remember, to educate girls is to reduce poverty. There is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls… Kofi Annan.
Mr. President, for the education sector to keep its momentum for the students and the country, the quality and relevance is Key. In order for the students to be relevant in the economy, there is need to check both supply and demand of skills in economy and to address the major skills gaps that would prevent adequate participation of the graduates in the economy. It is frustrating to finish more than 17 years in the education sector and you find the skills you have are wanting, both in the formal and the informal sector.
In order to improve the 37 years gap you have with me, it is important to keep the promise that your government will articulate the benefits of education and deliver them to improve the quality of my life and my age-mates in secondary sector. As you may be aware, the benefits of girl’s secondary education are many. Allow me to mention just a few;
Girls’ education results in social benefits to the whole society
Girls’ education results in a multitude of health benefits
Girls’ education is strategy to mitigate many diseases including HIV/AIDS
Girls’ education is a tool for poverty alleviation
Political willingness, which is your key docket and community participation, is necessary to ensure transparency, accountability, and sustainability of interventions. With the interventions, the gap between the rich and the poor may narrow moving forward and vicious cycle will change to virtuous cycle. This will greatly help me and my age-mates to exploit all our talents and capabilities.
Thank you my president. Hope one day I shall be able to meet you and celebrate my birthday with you as a lady… when the barriers to my education are minimized and help me become a distinguished lady of substance. That day I shall come with other ladies because I believe your government is able and willing to level education provision to be inclusive and be pro-poor in all its facets.
Happy Birthday President

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Wonders of Life

Man O Man!

When without money, eat wild vegetables at home;

When has money, eats the same wild vegetables in a fine restaurant.

When without money, rides bicycle;

When has money rides the same ‘exercise machine’.

When without money walks to earn food

When has money, walks to burn fat;

Man O Man! Never fails to deceive thyself! ~~~Uknown

When without money, wishes to get married;

When has money, wishes to get divorced.

When without money, wife becomes secretary;

When has money, secretary becomes wife.

When without money, acts like a rich man;

When has money acts like a poor man.

Man O Man! Never can tell the simple truth!

Says share market is bad, but keeps speculating;

Says money is evil, but keeps accumulating.

Says high Positions are lonely, but keeps wanting them.

Says gambling & drinking is bad, but keeps indulging;

Man O Man! Never means what he says and never says what he means!

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Quality issues raised in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education


People are the real wealth of nations. Education enables them to live healthier, happier and more productive lives. Compared with two decades ago, more young people are entering school, completing the primary level, and transitioning to secondary sector than previously. This is contributed by concerted effort of the government, non-governmental organizations, parents, private sector and development partners. More schools, classrooms and teacher recruitment have been done at unprecedented levels. Enrollment expansion has generally come through supply side and demand side policies.  Demand side interventions, such as the abolition of school fees and scholarships have all helped to raise enrollment rates. National equity objectives targeting the marginalized have been also been implemented since independence through the affirmative action. Despite all these efforts and the fact that countries spend a substantial portion of their national income on education, the results from education investment have been disappointing. For too many students, more schooling has not resulted in greater learning. The recent primary education examination (KCPE) results, 2013, document disappointing learning outcomes. Some 10,000 candidates scored less than 100 marks. This means the candidates obtained an average of 20 marks in each of the 5 subjects examined.  The 5 subjects are mainly examined through multiple choice questions apart from English composition and Kiswahili Insha. An earlier discussion with a teacher reveals that, pupils are mentored not to leave a question unanswered even if it means guessing.  One can easily conclude that for someone to get 20 marks out of a 100 marks in a paper of about 50 questions, only 10 were marked correct. There is a possibility that 5 were guessed answers.

This is a worrying trend and especially when the statistics on access and parity are impressively documented. Learning outcomes is a major concern as it forms the foundation for continuity and transitioning to the next level of education. Poor reading skills in early grades is hypothesized to be behind much of the poor performance that appears in achievement tests later on, as well as repetition and dropout , particularly among the poor. Improved access is necessary prerequisite, but that doesn’t mean ignoring outcomes. A trade-off between access and learning can be avoided with explicit for and high political commitment to improved learning outcomes. The government takes the lead as the major stakeholder in education to provide leadership and networks. In many developing countries, including Kenya, millions of children are not developing to their full potential. The children and their caregivers are lacking the basic conditions needed for young children to survive and thrive. They do not receive appropriate care and support to help them mentally, emotionally and physically develop. It is important to note that when well nurtured and cared for in their earliest years; children are more likely to survive, to grow in a healthy way, to have less disease and fewer illnesses, and to develop thinking, language, emotional and social skills.

There should be an opportunity to help disadvantaged children attain a more equal start in schooling is in the earliest years of life, when children’s brains are developing most rapidly, and the basis for their cognitive, social and emotional development is being formed. Children who participate in Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs , when compared with children who don’t, are more likely to enroll in school, plan their families, become productive adults, and educate their own children. They are also less likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school, or engage in criminal activities.

Different actors play a heavy role in delivering ECD programs mes including NGOs, community based organizations, religious organizations and the private sector. This makes ECD extremely hard to monitor measure and oversee by the national government. There is also lack of practical guidelines on the specific measures required to meet the needs of children younger than primary school age. Because ECD requires the contribution and collaboration of a variety of different sources, ECD is not explicitly part of the mandate of any one UN organization, and national governments many a times ignore it in budgetary allocations  

Child care is often considered a parental responsibility. Parenting practices differ between and even within countries. Family structures vary widely, and parents are not always solely responsible for children’s upbringing. This complicates the home curriculum and school curriculum. Furthermore, the curriculum providers are diversified making content and delivery modes difficult and a nightmare for evaluation. Varying cultural and linguistic backgrounds must therefore be accounted for when designing programs for young children.

Investing in young children during the early school years yields a higher rate of return to investment in terms of human capital, than when children are older. A healthy cognitive and emotional development in the early years translates into tangible economic returns. Early interventions yield higher returns as a preventive measure compared with remedial services later in life. Policies that seek to remedy deficits incurred in the early years are much more costly than initial investments in the early years.

In order to improve learning outcomes, the government must prioritize early grade reading, otherwise, education sector will always be having an unfinished agenda.

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Happy new Year 2014

This is to thank you for your invisible friendship that we have developed through this forum.

I wish you a happy 2014 with good health, better and achievable projects of whichever magnitude.

May we keep the fire burning for this year for each one of us.

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Education Dilemma in Kenya

Children begin primary classes around the age of two and half years old. They enter a nursery program for roughly two years before commencing Standard 1. This either in a public school or a private school. The primary cycle takes 8 years under the 8 4 4 system. Depending on their final KCPE (Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education) examination marks at the end of Standard 8, students may or may not qualify to attend a secondary school. The minimum marks for public secondary entry is 250 marks out of 500 marks. This is the minimum mark that qualifies a student to be admitted and benefit from the Subsidized Secondary Education (SSE). Secondary school in Kenya has four levels, forms 1 – 4 and is completed only when students finish their KCSE (Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education) examinations. Again, student grades play a key role in determining whether or not students are able to attend university or other tertiary colleges. Unfortunately for some, form 4 becomes the end of schooling cycle.

The Kenya National Examinations Council has said it will release the results on December 31, just a day before the New Year. The results will be a perfect New Year’s gift for those who will perform well, but it will be a present to forget for those who will be at the bottom. Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi will preside over the release for the first time at Mitihani House in Nairobi. It will be the first school results under the Jubilee government. This year saw 844,475 candidates sit the exams — a higher number than last year’s 811,930 in more than 24,000 examination centers.

This is how schools performed in 2012. How will they perform in 2013?

  1. Newlight Academy – Komarock
  2. Makini School – Ngong Road,
  3. Gilgil Academy
  4. Friend’s Academy – Meru
  5. Pleasant View School in- Kiambu

It is worth noting that all the 5 top schools are private (non public schools). A good read for this;  Is There a Role for the Private Sector in Education? via

This is how the counties ranked in 2012. How will they ranks in 2013?

1     KIRINYAGA     273
2     ELGEYO MARAKWET     272
3     NANDI     271
4     UASIN GISHU     270
4     BARINGO     270
6     MAKUENI     268
7     BUSIA     267
8     KISUMU     264
9     THARAKA NITHI     263
9     WEST POKOT     263
11     VIHIGA     262
11     SIAYA     262
13     KAJIADO     261
13     KAKAMEGA     261
15     NAIROBI     259
16     NYERI     258
17     BOMET     255
18     HOMA BAY     253
19     MACHAKOS     252
19     KERICHO     252
21     EMBU     251
22     TRANS NZOIA     250
22     BUNGOMA     250
24     NYANDARUA     249

The last three counties were;

45     WAJIR     200
46     GARISSA     183
47     MANDERA     182

All the three are dominated by pastorals communities

The list of top girls in 2012 were ;

List of  top 5 female candidates nationally in KCPE 2012 exam. How will they perform in 2013? Lets wait and see.

1 – 15304229005 – KINOTI JOY KATHURE – 430 – MERU
2 – 20406028001 – SHALOM NTHENYA MULINGE – 428 – NAIROBI
3 – 20408032010 – GITAMO AUDREY KEMUNTO – 427 – NAIROBI
4 – 20408073003 – MURIGA VERONICA WAIRIMU – 426 – NAIROBI
5 – 26535179001 – OWORI CHERYL JERUTO – 425 – MERU
5 – 15319334002 – GITONGA VIVIAN

and those of top 5 boys were;

1 —  11230418001 – WACHIRA NJOMO – 430 – KIAMBU
1 – 11230313001 – MWAURA BONFACE KIONGO – 430 – KIAMBU
3 – 12330141001 – MUTETI KELVIN MWANGANGI – 429 – MACHAKOS
3 – 15304229004 – KINDIKI N DAN MUTHOMI – 429 – MERU
5 – 30514125001 – MAINA DOUGLAS GICHOHI – 427 – MERU
5 – 15304229006 – KANJI BHANDERI NIKUN – 427 – LAIKIPIA

This page shall be reviewed on Wednesday after the KCPE RESULTS are released on Tuesday , 31, 2013.

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