According to an Ipsos Synovate survey, at least 5% of Kenyans don’t have a formal education. More than a third have not gone beyond primary school. The survey shows that despite the introduction of free universal primary school in 2002, around 44% of Kenyans have primary school education and below. It means around 2.4 million Kenyans have no formal education. The survey covered a total of 2057 respondents.
What is literacy?
Although this is a common term, not many know its meaning since it keeps evolving. The traditional dictionary defines it as ability to read and write. Another broad explanation sees literacy as competence and knowledge in a certain area.
Mostly, ‘literacy’ also includes ‘numeracy’ the ability to do simple arithmetic calculations. In fact if you visit a foreign nation and you cannot speak their native language, the locals might call you illiterate.
Urban areas have lower rates of illiteracy levels compared to rural areas. For instance, in the capital city Nairobi, studies show that the adult illiteracy rate is less than 13% while North Eastern province had illiteracy rates of more than 90%. These regional differences confirm the trend where regions that are doing well economically have an advantage when it comes to academic progress compared to the poor regions.
Illiteracy levels in Kenya among persons below 20 years
The illiteracy rate in Kenya among individuals under 20 years is less than 30%. One of the contributing factors is the free primary school education by the government. Additionally, the government also began providing a restricted program of free secondary education. Illiteracy levels are much lower among the young than the old. The total illiteracy rate for the country is around 38.5%.
The role of community-based libraries in reducing illiteracy levels in Kenya
One factor that contributes to high illiteracy levels is lack of resources. However, community-based libraries can help with easy access to learning resources as well as solutions to illiteracy. The libraries remain one of the few institutions that offer literacy services, access to computers, training and other library services for a very affordable price or for free to any adult learner.
According to a World Bank report, Kenyan youths have lower illiteracy levels than other nations in Africa. However, the report also suggests a need for expanding the secondary school facilities available to meet the challenges of free primary education. The reason is although most people enroll for primary school, the secondary school enrolment rates remain low. The report suggests a change in curriculum to include night classes, distance education and the use of ICT.