This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
two thousand three, the government of Kenya established a program of free primary
education for all children. But there are not enough public schools for all the
children who live in the crowded slums of Nairobi.
some of these children attend what are known as non-formal or informal schools.
These are supported by communities, religious groups and other organizations.
schools use the national curriculum taught in public schools. But they operate
largely with limited resources and without trained teachers. Education
activists say the Ministry of Education rarely inspects their teaching quality,
lesson notes or examination records.
say the presence of informal schools means that Kenya has two levels of
education: One for children from the slums, another for children from better
say Kenya has at least one thousand six hundred of these non-formal schools. Susan
Munuhe is an Education Ministry official. She says only about two hundred informal
schools across the country receive money for materials under the free primary
She says one slum in Nairobi,
Mathari, has only about three public primary schools nearby. These can serve
two thousand children at most. But she says the Mathari slum alone has more
than three hundred thousand children of school age.
Diana Atieno Tujuh volunteers as a teacher at the Saint
Christine's Community Center in the Kibera slum, one of the largest in Africa. She
says the government has provided books for her school only one time during the
past few years. Many parents do not have the money to buy books, so sometimes
the teachers pay for them.
She says many students are sleepy and
unable to pay attention in class because there is not enough food for them at
home. For the children at Saint Christine's, the mid-day meal they are served
might be their only meal all day.
A government spokesman says the
government is trying to discourage informal schools. Alfred Mutua says every
child in Kenya has the ability to get the same education. The government, he
says, has never rejected a child from a public school. He also says the
government is building more schools, but it will take time.
And that's the VOA Special English
Development Report, written by Jerilyn Watson with Cathy Majtenyi in Nairobi. Transcripts
and podcasts of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.