How do you champion a national dialogue on education within the framework of a regional knowledge exchange? On September 22, 2021, Kenyan policymakers and researchers shed insight on this process during an all-day dialogue in Nairobi to deliberate on Kenya’s promising practices and remaining gaps in the education system. The event was the first national dialogue held by the KIX Africa 19 hub.
The KIX Africa 19 hub collects, generates, exchanges, and facilitates the effective use of data, knowledge and innovation for education policy formulation and implementation among 18 Anglophone African countries in six thematic areas: (1) strengthening learning assessment systems, (2) improving teaching and learning, (3) strengthening early childhood care and education, (4) achieving gender equality in and through education, (5) leaving no one behind, and (6) meeting the data challenge in education.
Collaborative from its inception, KIX is a joint endeavour between the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). As stated by Joy Nafungo, Senior Programme Officer at IDRC, GPE is the world’s only partnership and fund entirely dedicated to education in lower-income countries and IDRC’s regional presence and experience in scaling solutions is an asset to KIX.
Joy Nafungo of IDRC providing an overview of the KIX initiative
Since its launch in late 2020, the hub has largely focused on designing and implementing interventions through thematic-based regional exchanges. The hub has directly engaged KIX’ national delegations who are senior officers from ministries of education. This dialogue was spearheaded by the Kenya Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM) which marks a new milestone for the hub.
More than thirty education stakeholders participated in the event, listening and contributing to presentations, panels, and question-and-answer sessions. Anne Ngatia, a KIX focal point based in Kenya at the MoE and Senior Subject Officer at the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC), opened the dialogue by drawing connections between national education priorities and the Hub’s six thematic areas. Ngatia recapped learnings and findings from recent KIX interventions in early childhood education (ECE), teaching and learning (T&L), and education management information systems (EMIS), acknowledging how the hub "positions regional knowledge and evidence for uptake." The Director-General Mr. Elyas Abdi, on behalf of Dr. Julius Jwan, the Principal Secretary for the State Department for Early Learning and Basic Education, welcomed attendees to the KIX engagement, emphasizing the need to institute collective measures to enhance quality of learning outcomes.
Over the course of the day, participants actively discussed translating policy into practice and examined the role of the hub in strengthening capacity within the thematic context of ECE, T&L, and EMIS. Mr. Hezron Momanyi, Director of the Central Planning Unit at the MoE, recapped the country’s progress in bolstering its EMIS through achievements in developing the national EMIS, publishing annual data, as well as broadening stakeholder partnerships.
On areas that required support, Momanyi said that KIX initiatives could facilitate interventions through areas such as the enactment of legal and institutional frameworks conducive for timely quality data in education. Dr. Saidou Jallow of UNESCO’s Regional Office for Eastern Africa reaffirmed that the hub is a great example of mobilizing the power of connectivity and collaboration to collect data and share best knowledge and practices.
Local education groups (LEGs) and NGOs such as Save the Children, Aga Khan, Usawa Agenda, Teachers Service Commission, Kenya National Examinations Council, Kenya Institute of Curriculum, and the Africa Early Childhood Network also shared experiences reflecting the vast expertise and knowledge present. A strong appreciation of contextual knowledge featured during many of the day’s exchanges.
The event offered national actors the chance to engage with the presenters’ research and recommendations. During a question-and-answer session, Cosmus Gatuyu, Education Officer at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), referenced and highlighted the significance of observations shared by monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning expert Timothy Kinoti, who shared experiences from the refugee settings.
Kinoti emphasized that “there has to be a concerted effort among the research actors not to conduct research in similar topics that have been researched in the past.” He identified that there is a need for research actors to promote and share findings and emerging lessons and to rethink some of the basic ethical research practices.
Abhiyan Juna Rana from UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO), the KIX Africa 19 hub consortium partner, stressed the need to seize this opportunity to reimagine and improve education systems.
Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA), summarized the national and regional linkages, affirming “KIX is really for us to have a culture of dialogue and policy based on facts and research findings. Research findings don’t just come from universities; they come from teachers, communities and students themselves.”
To watch highlights of the national dialogue, click here. To see the full recording of the workshop, click here. To learn more about the KIX Africa 19 Hub, follow their activities on Twitter and see the hub’s digital repository - a library of regional research, evidence, frameworks, and policy documents from member states in key areas of education development.