With the introduction of free primary education in 2003, gross enrollment of children in schools rose to 103%. This was also seen in free secondary education program. This was so commendable as it complied with the principles of basic education as set in international instruments that Kenya is signatory to. This meant that all children could access basic education as of right.
Despite this, many Kenyans has opted to continue bearing the burden of paying school fees for their children by enrolling them in private schools which are on rise in Kenya at all levels. The reasons why many parent, if asked enroll their children in private schools has been that the quality of education is higher as compared to public schools and that teachers in private schools do pay much attention to their students as compared to students in public schools. This is evidenced by the percentage of children who leads in the national examination as students from private schools always carry the flag every year as compared to those in public schools.
However, despite their determination, the challenge has been the smooth transition of private school students from one level to a higher level. This is evidenced by recent complaints by parents pertaining to their children being that they scored high marks but they were enrolled in school with lower standard contrary to their children’s choice. Parents have termed this as discrimination against private schools in Kenya.
According to the Children Act (2001), the child interest is paramount and child needs and views should be considered. Children at private and public school are given the right of choice to choose the schools. This is commendable but during enrollment you will find that children from public schools are given first priority as compared to those in private schools. This is total discrimination and is contrary to Article 53 of the constitution conferring the right of education to every child. Article 27 condemns discrimination at all levels and calls for equality among all children despite their social status.
The Children Act Article 7(1) call upon the government and the parent to be responsible in ensuring that every child is entitled to education. Furthermore, Article 11(3) and (d) of African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child call upon the State Parties to take all appropriate measures with a view of achieving the full realization of the right to education and to make the higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity and ability by every appropriate means.
Furthermore, the Basic Education Act (2013) sets out the principles on provision of basic education. Article 4(b &e) advocate for equitable access to basic education and equal access to education or institutions and protection of every child against discrimination within or by an education department or education institution on any ground whatsoever. Article 39(b) gives the government the mandate to ensure compulsory admission and attendance of children at school or an institution giving basic education.
As Article 27(6) of the Constitution gives the government the mandate to take measures including affirmative action and policies to redress any disadvantage suffered by groups or individuals, I will then call upon the government to come up with policies to redress this and ensure that children in private school are treated in the same level as children in public school inform one selection.