Adult education stakeholders decry underfunding and poor infrastructure

Monday, September 9th, 2019 00:00 |
Elderly learners in a makeshift class in Kilimambogo, Thika East sub-county. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA

Mathew Ndung’u

Adult education students and stakeholders are calling on the government to set aside enough funds for the programme.

Apart from building enough classrooms for adults seeking literacy, the government  should also pay national exams for the learners as is it does for primary and secondary school counterparts.

“We want to support the government’s efforts in eliminating illiteracy before 2030 but this can only be if this programme runs without hitches.

We urge the government to provide enough books and put up structures for conducive learning,” says Beatrice Kagure, officer in charge of Adult and Continuing Students education in Thika East sub-county.

Financial challenges have, however, not deterred passionate adults from accessing education. In Thika east, leaders are supporting education as a life skill besides being an economic empowerment tool. 

The fact that it’s challenging to operate as an illiterate person has pushed hundreds of learners in the sub-county back to school. The learners blame poverty, early pregnancies,  poor academic  performance and expulsions from school for their handicap.

The adult education  classes were established by the ministry to accommodate adults and youths aged 15 or older seeking literacy.

In Thika east sub-county whose poverty levels are above 60 per cent, the programme has seen over 430 women learn to write and gain relevant skills in business.

“These poor parents have developed a new approach to handling life issues,” says Kagure.

Grace Wanza, 78, and a beneficiary of adult education classes, says she can now transact businesses despite being a nursery school dropout.

Besides being able to operate a phone and to transact business, she can also sign documents. 

“I intend to use skills gained through adult education to conduct a viable business and from what I have learnt, I can now defend myself through writing,” she says.

Agnes Mwende, 53, says she now sees the need for education, having learned how to compile basic business reports, write minutes and communicate better with customers.

“The difference between a business that is run by an illiterate person and one managed by  an educated one is huge.

From our classes, I have learned to deal with people, offer good customer relations,” she says. 

The students have, however, been learning under a tree beacuse there are no classrooms or toilet facilities.

“We meet to educate these students under a tree like happens in a public baraza. We have a few books and some of these people are too poor to afford to pay for their exams,” says Kagure.

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