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Historically, the Kenya educational system underwent drastic and rapid changes within a short period. As in most African countries, Kenya has been faced with a fast population growth rate and low economic development that contribute to an environment where the educational system is very competitive and high educational attainment does not guarantee occupational mobility (Buchmann 2000). Kenya has accomplished its goals of educational development since independence, according to the normative and organizational triumph of mass schooling theory. The promotion of education, along with credential inflation, resulted in the slow growth of wage employment and an overabundance of educated job seekers. As Buchmann (2000) points out, the result has been a highly expanded educational system that rivals those in the most industrialized countries in terms of its complexity and competitiveness. At the same time the strength of extended kinship networks and the prevalence of polygyny along with a high demand of agricultural economic base indicates very little has changed for the better.

The educational system in Kenya alienated the masses from their traditional cultural ways, which served as the fabric to sustain a healthy climate in the society. Thus, the educational impact on society has resulted in corruption and institutional breakdown, lack of infrastructure to utilize the human capital available, and, above all, the disillusionment that education does not equal economic or social mobility. As a result, education has become a handicap, leading to oppressive social, economic, and psychological conditions. The symptoms that have surfaced are a decline in ethnic pride, patriotism, and the attitude that "what is Kenyan has no value, but that which is imported is much better," and urban life is better than rural. Another impact is the loss of skilled workers who cannot flee to other countries for improved economic conditions. The future of the Kenyan educational system is uncertain; however, the Kenyan people appear to still believe in education as progress, and future reforms may consider including character education, which would foster moral ethics and a revitalization of indigenous cultures.


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—P. Masila Mutisya

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceKenya - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education