Making Quality Education a Reality for Everyone
The meaning of a Quality Education is one that is pedagogically and developmentally sound and educates the student in becoming an active and productive members of society.
Based on the 2018 data reported by UNESCO Institute of Statistics or UIS (2019), there is no progress in reducing out of school rates. This harsh reality is apparent, especially in low-income countries.
A total of 258.4 million individuals (children, adolescents, and youth) are out of school in 2018.
In low-income countries, 68.2 million do not attend school compared to 5.7 million in high-income countries.
Lower-middle-income countries, however, have the highest number of out-of-school population at 148.9 million. UNESCO’s data also shows the apparent gender disparity among out-of-school children, adolescents, and youth. In most regions, the number of out-of-school girls is often larger than the number of out-of-school boys.
COVID-19 has presented major setbacks in access to quality education. Children across the world have lost an average of one third (74 days) of education each due to school closures and a lack of access to remote learning.
As of March 2021, close to half the world’s students are out of school worldwide due to partial or full school closures linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
In reaction to COVID-19, Kenya's government immediately closed all schools and universities across the country on March 15, 2020, affecting almost 17 million students. The closure of institutions had a wide range of economic and social consequences, including interrupted and lost learning, educational exclusion, homelessness, nutrition and economic crisis, childcare challenges and an increase in teenage pregnancy cases, financial cost implications for households, and sexual exploitation, to name a few. The repercussions have been especially severe for urban poor children and their families.
Due to the government's adoption of a remote and digital form of learning, the learning gap has widened, and most learners are now unable to participate in online education due to a lack of internet connectivity and stable electricity. According to an article in a national newspaper, most parents cannot afford school-related fees such as learning materials and daily internet bundles, putting them at a disadvantage compared to their peers who can. This deepens the divide between rich and poor people, making it more difficult for them to get a good education and continue learning. As a result, limited and negligible learning has occurred in the places, particularly in urban informal settlements.
As a result of loss of livelihoods particularly in low income households, some children have been forced into income-generating activities to support their families survival. In such poverty stricken areas, securing food takes precedence over learning. For instance, children from poor families from disadvantaged neighborhoods have resorted to working as opposed to learning in order to provide for their families. This raises the increase on sexual exploitation with the the increase on sexual exploitation with the young girls engaging in transactional sex in order to gain not only access to essential needs like sanitary towels but also to support their families. This has highly contributed to early and unplanned teenage pregnancies which has been projected to be on the rise during COVID-19 thus contributing to loss and disruption in learning.
There is a need to negotiate these challenges and ensure sustained access to quality, equitable, and inclusive education during and after the pandemic. To guarantee that everyone is included, the government should adopt measures and policies that are applicable to all members of society and embrace digital learning. Otherwise, it will be difficult to maintain education in the country if the government does not embrace digital learning as part of new policy initiatives necessary by the epidemic.