How to deal with increasing levels of diversity in a resource constrained environment? A Kenyan answer.

05 March 2020

Kenyans want inclusive education for all. Therefore, as a response to a growing level of diversity in Kenyan school institutes, the ministry, 4 TVET institutions, and Cheshire Disability Services, came together to work on increasing the flexibility of educational institutes. For this they used the Flexscan, a tool which has proven it’s woarth in the Dutch context, developed by CINOP, and now translated to the Kenyan context with funding from Liliane Fonds.  

Growing levels of diversity

Recently the Kenyan government has announced that all Kenyans should have access to education, regardless of any hindrances that institutes or students might encounter. This has resulted in a tsunami of new students entering all nooks and crannies of the system. Institutes pop like mushrooms from the ground, throughout the entirety of the country and classes are reaching up to 50 students each. When the influx of students increases this also means that the level of diversity in classes follows. A new challenge arises, how to deal with increasing levels of diversity in a resource constrained environment?

‘This project must not fail. We have a duty to create inclusive education in Kenya, so we must deliver’

Ministry of Higher Education

Kenya

Flexibility as an answer

The answer to this is challenge is flexibility. With flexibility we refer to an educational environment that becomes increasingly flexible in such a way that it is able to cater for both regular students as well as special needs students. For example youngsters with impairments, disabilities, socio-psychological challenges and many other ways which might hamper students from accessing and finishing their school career. If all provisions and activities in schools cater for all students, instead of providing secondary bypasses for the students who cannot deal with the regular provision, then the journey students will take will eventually be much smoother and inclusive. And additionally, in many cases it might contribute to more cost effective and sustainable solutions. After all, secondary bypasses can become very costly.

Coming together

During a pilot, two private and two public TVET institutes, Cheshire Disability Services (CDSK), as well as the National Ministry of Higher Education came together for an entire week for a participatory workshop. Here they created a shared language on inclusion, a common framework towards flexibility, and have contributed their share to the development of an action plan and roadmap on institutional level as well as on a national level towards creating more inclusive education and employment. The institutes were able to take the perspective of their institute, the perspective of various students with special needs, as well as the perspective of other institutes. This contributed to a shared understanding, problem definition, and common goal to work towards.

Kenya4

We should not point at the government for a lack of policies, and the government should not point at the institutes for a lack of implementation. Because after all, who is the government? The people are the government! We can write for policies to the government if we need change and we can push to implement better.

The participants as a collective

The contextualisation of the Flexscan

The tool that was used for this was the Flexscan, a Dutch tool that has received many positive feedback from Dutch institutes who wanted to make their education more flexible and inclusive. The challenge that faced the Kenyan pioneers was to contextualize the Flexscan to the Kenyan context first. After all, the Kenyan situation asks for other focus areas, such as physical accessibility, recognition of prior learning due to a large population of Kenyans who have only engaged in informal education, career guidance and coaching, and taking into account other target groups such as albinism. This is different from the Dutch context which focusses much more on personal learning pathways and invisible challenges such as student well-being.

Cheshire Disability Services Kenya taking the reins

After a week of hard work the Flexscan is now contextualized to the Kenyan context. CDSK will take the reins and bring the scan to other institutes to contextualize it further and iterate it to a final state. Additionally they will be there to help offer these institutes advise on how to improve their education in such a way that it becomes suitable for every student without the need to create millions of secondary bypasses.

The process took its own meanders away from the norm and finally, we had a product that all of us loved and cherish. Thank you very much for your patience and travail in navigating the process to the launching pad and take-off arena.

CDSK

The Flexscan is a tool designed by CINOP and the pilot workshop was sponsored by Liliane Fonds. If you want to learn more about the Flexscan or the Kenyan pilot, please contact us at global@cinop.nl or contact one of our consultants who is directly involved in the project dverbakel@cinop.nl or jjanssen@cinop.nl

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