Council on Anthropology and Education
Oral Presentation Session
Jennifer Coffman (James Madison University)
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 is to "Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning." Access, inclusion, and quality in all levels of formal education have long been topics of concern and sites of struggle in Kenya. With more than half of current primary students in Nairobi attending private schools, the rate at which low-cost private schools (LCPS) have emerged raises questions of what constitutes "quality education" in this age of entrepreneurship, and why parent elect to pay any fees at all, given Kenya's policy of free primary education. The recent rapid growth of private actors in education does seem to have opened up new opportunities for school-age children where there simply are not enough seats in state-funded schools. Is edupreneurship the best path forward in under-resourced rural areas, and/or is it subsidizing and thus "forgiving" state responsibilities? What does it mean to outsource the content and delivery methods of primary education frameworks, and in many cases attendant programs of socialization? This paper discusses the rapid increase of low-cost private schools in Kenya by drawing on data from primary schools in Nairobi, Kuria, Kakamega, and Kajiado countries, including a look at the sheer number of students in these school systems since the 2003 declaration of free primary education.