The 2018 Human Development Index (HDI) by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ranked Kenya at position 142 out of 188 countries that were surveyed.
In other words, we have some work to do in education, one of the key dimensions of HDI, which is measured by the expected years of schooling for school-age children and average years of schooling in the adult population.
Our recent behaviour towards the outcome of the 2018 Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education (KCSE) examination contradicts what we need to do to catch up with Nordic countries (Iceland and Norway), which took two of the top three positions in the world.
Since the release of the results, we have spent the entire media space celebrating the achievements of 90,377 students that will join university out of 631,750 candidates. In retrospect, we have completely failed to see the big picture and fallen into a narrow view of education.
Perhaps most people do not understand the impact of the outcome. Those who did will relate to what I am about to say.
On the evening of December 21, I received a call from my village. It was from Zachary, my old classmate in primary school. He did not waste time as he normally does.
‘‘Hallo, Hallo, this is Zachary, our son Anthony got a D plus.’’ Silence. ‘‘What do we do?’, he asked. ‘‘I don’t know’’, I responded. D+ is outside the entry requirements for many tertiary institutions.
Anthony is a young man I helped educate in a local public day school. He is a good kid and his father and myself had hoped that he would do well.
My discussion with him revealed many things that I wasn’t aware of. Teachers absconded their duties and no one reported this because most of them come from the area. They did not have a maths teacher for the better part of Form 3 and the laboratories were ill equipped. At home, Anthony often woke up at 5am to help his parents with various chores, including picking tea, before leaving for school.
He went to bed early because his home lacks electricity and the makeshift lamp he uses sometimes lacks paraffin. He never had a chance to go through some electronic content that I used to send to him because his father’s smart phone was off most of the time, needing to be charged at a nearby shopping centre where there is electricity.
All odds were against not just Anthony but virtually all of his colleagues from rural schools.
The poor performance by students from mostly rural schools was not entirely their fault.
Most schools are over crowded due to the free education policy. They lack the necessary infrastructure and are under-equipped. You would be expecting too much from these kids if you thought they would be stellar performers.
The circumstances under which rural students, save for a few outliers, study is not comparable to urban schools that contributed more than 90 percent of the top grades. In my view, examinations in Kenya reveal the widening social inequality rift in education and careers that no one wants to address.
The Norwegian educational system de-emphasises national examinations. This is a system that is entirely public and is based on the principle that everyone should be able to get an education regardless of social background.
As such the transition from high school to university/tertiary is more than 98 percent.
The tertiary system is referred to as specialised university where they teach applied sciences similar to Germany’s Applied Science Universities. If Kenya wants to improve its HDI and retain the national examinations, then the marking system has to be moderated in such a way that children from disadvantaged schools can be given a fighting chance.
If Kenya wanted a 75 percent transition into university/tertiary, using a moderated method such as curving, kids like Anthony will have a chance. The types of Anthony do well in employment when compared to those who spent their early part of life cramming for exams. We also see reversal in performance at university level with most first-class degrees going to students from disadvantaged high schools.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.