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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