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Dear Friend,

When the Government published its five-year plan for the future of schools last year, The Independent highlighted the state of education in the UK. It reported that in the previous 12 months, 10% of parents appealed against their allocated school, and described how funding was set to rise to £5,500 per pupil by 2006.

Just one week before, I had been in Kenya reading a simi­lar article on the state of their education system in a na­tional newspaper, The Daily Nation. The report highlighted the achievements of the Kenyan Government since it came to power and introduced free primary education (FPE) in 2003. FPE caused the enrolment in Kenyan schools to rise from 5.9 million to 7.2 million. At the same time that 10% of us here were complaining about our schools, more than 20% of parents in Kenya were rejoicing that they could send their kids to any school for the very first time!

Maybe when my own daughter starts school I will have something to say about whether £5,500 is enough to buy the dedicated teachers, spacious classrooms, quality books, sports and music facilities that I, and any other parent, wants for their children. But for the moment I am struck by the inequality highlighted by the two articles; in The Nation the Kenyan Ministry of Education proudly reported how they had supported the country’s primary schools with an allocation of 335 ‘At the same time Kenya shillings per pupil. At today’s exchange rate, that’s a little over £2.50.

The Kenyan Government’s commitment to education for all as a fundamental about our schools,human right is a major step forward for the country’s development. However, there is much work to be done to increase funding and raise standards; sec-more than 20% of ondary schooling, with its high fees, is still beyond the reach of the vast major-parents in Kenya ity of ordinary Kenyans, and the still higher costs of colleges and universities were rejoicing that mean that less than 1% of young people are able to attend them.


Andrew Betts, Director

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