Quenching the thirst of education in African Children

The guiding principles on human rights obligations of states to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education organized by EACHRights was launched on 21st of March, 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The CEO, EACHRights, Judith Oloo-mentioned that it is the duty of the state to provide quality and accessible education to all children in Kenya. There’s a need for the Abidjan Principles to be implemented in our country as they constitute a unique landmark.

There are about 97 Abidjan principles and they put emphasis on the relevance of implementing them and giving children quality and affordable education for them to realize and reach their full potential.

Some of the principles highlighted at the breakfast meeting attended by different stakeholders, policy makers, government and ministry representatives include:

States must respect, protect and fulfill the right to quality basic education as their right to equality and non-discrimination.
The state must provide free, quality attainable public basic education to everyone to the maximum of available resources.
States must respect the liberty of parents or legal guardians to choose an educational institution whether private or public
The state must and should take effective measures including; adoption and enforcement of effective regulatory measures to ensure the realization of the rights to education where private actors are involved in the provision of education.
States must prioritize funding and provision of free, quality, public education and may only fund eligible private instructional educational institutions whether directly or indirectly.
States must put in mechanisms to ensure they are accountable for their obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the right to quality education.
The state should heighten monitoring compliance of public and private institutions with their rights to ensure both institutions relate to this right to comply with human rights principles.
States must ensure access to an effective remedy for violations of their rights to education or any form of abuse by private actors involved.
The state should guarantee effective implementation of these guiding principles by all appropriate means; adopting and enforcing required legal and budgetary reform

With the above principles in place, questions were raised on how we can enhance inclusivity and equal quality accessible education for children with disability. Salome…recommended the government and policymakers on a special bursary for children with special needs.

It’s devastating that as we continue to root and champion for the implementation of the big four agenda, under infrastructure, we still have large numbers of pupils and we still have poor and inadequate classrooms in the school. Olympic school in Kibera Constituency, still hold up to 4600 students a number that is overwhelming to both the students and teachers. This is hard even for students to grasp what they're being taught if they are not concentrating and even harder if the teacher cannot monitor them closely.

There’s a clear need for the government to regulate private investors in education on the quality of education offered as well as the amount of money paid during registration especially on private schools, which makes it even difficult for a child from a low status unable to opt for an alternative when they cannot access public schools.

It is not realistic that a child lives in one county and learns in a different county to wake up at 4.00 A.m. to attend schools as they are termed as the best especially for the children coming from wealthy backgrounds. This drains the child and it is not right for parents to expose them to such caliber.

There are about 200 public and 1000 private schools and numerous informal schools in Nairobi County a figure that is demoralizing with the thirst of education children have in the society. The government has to regulate the number of private institutions and uphold them of the quality of education they offer since most may take this as a business opportunity rather than a platform for learning.

However, we should not forget of majority children living in the rural settings, where accessing education is difficult due to the high poverty level, long distance to and from school, famine, harmful cultural practices, and acute water shortage. The only thing that can keep them in schools despite this is food.

As we push for the implementation of Abidjan principles we call upon the government to ensure education for all and that children should have at least one meal a day and the families that families are able to provide. We need affirmative action for quality education by the government and these principles should be implemented from the grassroots level to enhance understanding of quality accessible basic education.

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