Historically, in Kenya, parents and society at large participated in the education of their children before the coming of the missionaries and colonial masters (Kinuthia, 2009). The home was the setting in which education in all its forms took place. 3 Parents today have different levels of involvement in their children’s education depending on the prevailing circumstances. Here in Kenya, and in other parts of the world, there are a growing number of parents that are returning to the old traditional model of education, before the advent of formal schooling, now popularly known as ‘homeschooling’ or ‘home education’
Education in Kenya has witnessed a shift in ownership and management in the last 100 years from parents and community in the pre-colonial period to foreign missionaries and now to the State. While the State assumes a more primary and central role in the control of education, a new problem arises regarding choice and freedoms for other stakeholders (Mumma, 2015). The recent enactment of the Kenya Basic Education Act (2013) following the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya (2010) has presented one such scenario in the primary and central role of the State in education as compared to that of parents.
The concept of children being taught at home is, therefore, not a new one. A few things are different between the homeschooling now and that of our great grandparents. The level of formal schooling of today’s parent is higher, access to information has been radically changed by the advent of the internet and parents are more enlightened and involved in the character development of their children and influence over the content of their education.
The Constitution of Kenya recognises the right of the child to education. Article 43 (1) (f) lists education as one of the fundamental rights of every person. Furthermore, Article 53 (1) (b) states that every child has the right to free and compulsory basic education. Nevertheless, neither of the articles limits education to the school environment.
However, Homeschooling Kenyan parents have expressed concern over provisions in the Basic Education Act 2013 that presume education can only be attained through institutionalised schools. For example, Article 28 of the Act, titled “Right of Child to Free and Compulsory Education”, states that “The Cabinet Secretary shall implement the right of every child to free and compulsory basic education” (Article 28(1)), but the tenor of the Act is that such education can only happen in the context of an institutional school.
Legal experts interviewed and formulators of the Act have confirmed that the Act neither recognises nor provides for homeschooling .
Several Kenyan families have homeschooled their children from the early 1990s using a variety of curricula, including 8-4-4, I.G.C.S.E., and Accelerated Christian Education. A number of Kenyan children have completed their high school education through homeschooling and have been admitted to universities inside and outside Kenya, and several are already employed, while others have ventured into entrepreneurship.
Homeschool Support Groups
The support groups in Kenya are broadly referred to as co-ops. A Co-op is a group of parents who live in Kenya and have chosen to homeschool and meet regularly for support. The Coops get together frequently to organize events such as field trips sports, arts and crafts, and provide equipment.
The coops are located on Mombasa Road for ACE home schools boasting 50 families, Ngong Road, Karen etc. The groups are scattered all over East Africa and meet annually for East Africa Community of Homeschoolers conference.
Other organizations that provide support, information and access to resources are Elimu Nyumbani, Nairobi Home School & Tuition Limited, and Home School Foundation.