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Published:July 20th, 2006 03:27 EST
Alternative Education in Kenya.

Alternative Education in Kenya.

By Juliet Maruru

In an article entitled Education Reforms posted on the IgiveUp Website, Philip Ochieng Odhiambo writes, “Education should be viewed as a process that is not limited to formal or institutional learning. Rather, it should go beyond the confines and demands of the classroom where it buds itself in such agents of learning such as cultural exchange and creativity. The central emphasis is the need to motivate people of all ages and background to continue learning for the sake of acquiring new knowledge.”
A lot of Kenyans have converted from the old theory of structured and institutional learning, mostly because alternative is not only more accessible for working individuals, but also more affordable than institutional learning. Such individuals will more often than not source alternative education from schools outside Kenya, even outside Africa. Only recently have local colleges and universities introduced the concept of distance learning and work-learning. But even then the costs of undertaking such programs tend to be quite expensive, limiting them to the elite working class and their relatives.
There has been a serious need to consider how to make it easier for the millions of Kenyans and other African children who have grown into adulthood without accessing basic formal education, to access some form of education that will fit into a working and family schedule. While governments and non governmental organizations work at such, thousands of Kenyans have channeled their funds into correspondence and online schools with the hope of attaining certificates, diplomas and associate degrees that will make it possible to acquire jobs that require some qualification, or reach for higher education.
Higher Education Schools in South Africa, UK and USA offer two-year programs that can lead to University entrance in schools in the respective countries. Some of these programs have been channeled into institutions such as the Institute Advanced Technology which offers support through the first and second years training leading to a year or two in a university abroad culminating in a Degree.
Other schools offer independent study programs that allow students to structure their own study schedules. Examples are the Pennfoster Career School, which has a variety of courses that would appeal to a Kenyan student.
Also available in Kenya is the African Virtual University. According to the AVU official site, “The African Virtual University (AVU) is an innovative educational organization established to serve the countries of Africa. The objective of the AVU is to build capacity and support economic development by leveraging the power of modern telecommunications technology to provide world-class quality education and training programs to students and professionals in Africa.”
AVU offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs based on prioritized needs of students and education institutions at tertiary level. Certificate and diploma programs are offered in specialist areas. The following areas are considered critical for economic development and are a priority for AVU: Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Public Health, Teacher Training, Business Management.
It is clearly evident that options for alternative education are available in the country. The question remains: How accessible are such programs for the common mwanainchi [citizen]?