Kenya’s education markets have been growing over the years. But the truth is, the more it grows, the more it seems as though it remains the same. There are so many challenges facing the sector that sometimes even the stakeholders are left wondering where to start addressing them.
A report released recently by Usawa Agenda showed that despite Kenya’s pursuit of legal, policy, and institutional reforms in education since 2010, there’s still no significant improvement in learning outcomes.
The report affirmed a more salient issue that has surfaced over the years – inequality. These shades of inequality are transparent across areas of disability, geographical distribution such as rural versus urban areas, gender, low versus high-income households, the dichotomy of private versus public primary schools, and other variations across the counties.
Many factors determine the learning outcomes of a child’s education and one of them is the student-teacher ratio. This is often overlooked but is a significant factor that affects the quality of learning in any school. Sadly, some schools cannot give each child maximum teacher to learner individualized attention. In some counties across Kenya, many schools with a reasonably high enrollment rate are run by very few teachers.
The coming of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) has further complicated the education sector. There have been concerns, despite efforts by the Ministry of Education, that there is no proof so far that the CBC will be superior to the 8-4-4 system once it is fully implemented.
For instance, teachers have protested the move to “impose” the curriculum on them saying that the majority of teachers had not been adequately trained on the new curriculum.
There have also been concerns as to whether the examination system in Kenya adds any value to the life of learners and the economy in general. For instance, in the just-released Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), 82 percent of the candidates scored C- and below, suggesting that students are not receiving an education at the primary and secondary level that prepares them well for the job market.
It is on the premise of these challenges that The Ko Academy was designed to intervene at grade 5 to 10 level. According to Dr. Rosa Ko, a co-founder of the Sochin Research Institute and lead instructor at The Ko Academy, “students at the academy will be guided in a way that they improve their critical thinking skills and overall boost their competencies that translate into job skills.“
The academy currently offers 15 online competency-boosting and accelerator courses that are taught in the afternoon on weekdays and on Saturdays. The courses instill learning that cannot be found in a classroom setting because The Ko Academy’s instructors can better cater to different learning styles and speeds of students.
The Ko Academy’s vision is to ultimately create an adaptive learning app powered by artificial intelligence. The app will feature localized content for greater effectiveness and aims to close any existing learning gaps by giving students a customized digital learning path.
The academy was established by the same team that trained over 500 vulnerable youth in cybersecurity from 2019 to 2021 through a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.