by Rich, Co-Director, IHF Kenya
Before coming to Kenya I can remember watching the ‘The First Grader’. The film centres around an old man in rural Kenya who, on hearing that primary education is to be made free and universal, decides to enrol himself in a local school. Despite initial setbacks, he is eventually accepted and completes his KCPE examinations. It is based on the true story of Kimani Maruge who joined a primary school near Eldoret in 2003. In September 2005, for the first time in his life, Maruge boarded a plane and headed to New York City where he addressed the United Nations Millennium Development Summit on the importance of free primary education.
Though the film presents an inspirational story for Hollywood audiences, free primary education in Kenya is somewhat different in reality. When the third President of the republic Mwai Kibaki changed the system in 2003, it was envisaged that it would put an end to levies on text books, PTA, and extra curricular activities. However, this edict just seems to have made the schools more creative with their budgeting. Aside from uniforms, exercise books, pens and other essential items, children return from school other day with requests for money. This ranges from cash for essential trips; to school lunches; and even basic s costs such as photocopying. With around 60 children at the centre attending primary school, these costs can really add up. IHF is lucky to have such dedicated and generous donors to keep our education programmes running. Thank you to all our volunteers, supporters and donors!
For more information on ‘free’ primary education in Kenya, The Population Reference Bureau produced an illuminating report in 2013 which can be found at:http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2013/kenya-school-education.aspx