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Kenya's 'Cutting Edge' Education Policy

Interviewee: Gene B. Sperling
Interviewer: Stephanie Hanson
August 26, 2008

Postelection violence in Kenya and the ensuing political crisis dominated world headlines earlier this year. Peace has held since a February deal that established a powersharing government, creating opportunities for Kenya to repair its fraying social structures. Gene Sperling, director of CFR's Center for Universal Education, recently traveled to Kenya to meet with politicians and policymakers, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Despite calling it a "strange marriage," Sperling says the powersharing government is functioning. Many analysts have expressed concern about the lack of social equity in Kenya, which some trace to lack of widespread education. Sperling notes:
•    The ruling party and opposition in Kenya are united on the need for universal primary education.
•    Kenya is on the "cutting edge" in Africa on education policy. It has eliminated school fees for state-run primary schools, and recently eliminated fees for secondary schools as well.
•    The elimination of secondary school fees will likely create the need for thousands of additional teachers, which the government doesn't have the funds to hire.
•    Western donors should help countries like Kenya by providing long-term education funding that allows them to hire more teachers.

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