List of Education Commissions in Kenya

Education Commissions in Kenya:-

Ominde Report 1964 — it sought to reform colonial education. It proposed one that would foster unity and create human resources for national development.

Gachathi Report 1976 — redefined policies and emphasised national unity and socio-economic and cultural aspirations of Kenya.

Mackay Report 1981 — removed A-Level education and established Moi University, 8-4-4 and Commission for Higher Education.

Kamunge Report 1988 — focused on education financing, quality and relevance. This led to cost-sharing.

Koech Report 1999 — proposed Totally Integrated Quality Education and Training. The Government did not adopt it, but some proposals have been.

Education Commissions in Kenya – The Ominde Commission

In 1964, Education Minister Joseph James Otiende appointed the Kenya Education Commission (1964-65), under the chairmanship of Prof Simeon H. Ominde with the express mandate of restructuring the entire education spectrum. Members ofthe Commission Were:

  1. Prof Simeon H. Ominde (Chairman)
  2. Jeremiah Nyagah
  3. A.I. Pandya
  4. K. Ndile
  5. Taaitta Toowett
  6. Mrs. Ruth Habwe
  7. J.B. Wambugu
  8. J.D. Ochieng
  9. Thomas Lung’ah0
  10. Paul Fordham
  11. Dr Mohamed Hyder
  12. Israel Somen
  13. David N. Michuki (co-opted)
  14. C.P. Vivian (co-opted)
  15. G. V. Krishna (co-opted)
  16. S.J. Kioni (Co-opted)
  17. David Mwiraria (co-opted)


  1. Roger Carter
  2. G. Kiti

Mrs. M.P. D’Souza


A.D. Collop

V.L. Griffiths

Prof Arthur Lewis

The commission, commonly referred to as the Ominde Commission, published its findings and recommendations in a report released in two parts in 1964 and 1965. The report contained 160 policy recommendations on various aspects of the Kenyan educational system.

The Commission urged the Government to reform the system towards national development,which they viewed as the most important role that education could play in an independent country. In this regard, the Ominde Commission identified nine specific objectives, describing what the purpose of education in Kenya was to be.

The team recommended that education being a function of the Kenyan nation had to foster a sense of nationhood, promote national unity, and serve the people of Kenya Without discrimination.

It also stated that public schools had to respect the religious convictions and cultural traditions of all people of Kenya.

Education as an instrument for the conscious change of attitudes and relationships, had to prepare children for those changes of outlook required by modern methods of productive organisation, foster respect for human personality,observe the needs of national development, promote social equality and remove divisions of race, tribe and religion.

From the recommendations, the Government set out six clear broad goals of education:

  1. National unity
  2. National development
  3. Individual development and self-fulfillment
  4. Social equality
  5. Respect and development of cultural heritage
  6. International consciousness

The Commission endorsed free primary education, the creation of the Kenya Institute of Education, and recommended a 7-4-2-3 system model of education, seven years of primary cycle, four years of secondary education, two years ofadvanced secondary education and a minimum of three years of university education.

Regulating harambee schools The Ominde Commission noted the rapid growth of Harambee and other unaided secondary schools because of the demand that there was for secondary school education. But many of these schools were unregistered and lacked basic facilities and qualified staff, and generally admitted students who may not have performed very Well at the end of primary education.The Commission recommended government regulation of those schools to avoid encouraging unemployment and frustration of their graduates.

It also urged the Government to include unaided schools in educational planning and avail professional advice by the inspectorate to these schools.

Universal primary education

The Commission advocated for free universal primary education (UPE). It called for a curriculum that was suitably related to the land and people of Kenya, inclusion of topics relating to citizenship and regular singing of the National Anthem and raising of the flag in schools.

Ominde recommended English as the medium of instruction from grade one in primary school. Kiswahili was to be a compulsory subject in primary and secondary school in preparation of eventually adopting it as the national language.

Examinations board

The Commission recommended establishment of the East African Examinations Board to replace the Cambridge University Local Examinations Syndicate.

This was to ensure that the proposed curriculum change would be reflected in the examinations requirements. The team supported the Government’s initiative of abolishing racial segregation in schools and urged the Government to offer bursaries to African children so that they could join schools dominated by Europeans and Asians.

The Commission the creation of national schools as Well encouraging all government maintained secondary schools to have 20 per cent of their students from other parts of the country. Teachers had to be ready to Work outside their homes and develop a national rather than a tribal outlook.

Economic development

The Commission encouraged development of adult education to enable people with elementary education to participate in national and economic development.

It recommended that religious education be treated as any other

academic subject and should not be used to entrench any particular faith in children.

However, churches and other religious bodies were to remain as sponsors and offer pastoral care to the schools.

Teacher education

The Commission felt that unqualified teachers in the schools, low morale in the teaching profession due to poor pay and poor Working conditions would hinder achievement of educational goals. It recommended in-service training for primary school teachers and that primary school graduates should not be recruited as untrained teachers.

Planning of education

The Commission recommended restructuring of the curriculum from the model of 4:4:2:2 system— four years of lower primary,four years of upper primary, and two years of lower secondary and two years of Form 3 and Form 4- which restricted many African children from proceeding to higher education. Ominde recommended a 7:4:2:3 system, which would enable children go through seven years of uninterrupted primary education, our years of secondary from Form 1 to Form 4, two years of advanced secondary education and a minimum of three years at the university.

It recommended that general planning of education be taken centrally by the Government, with school committees and Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs) overseeing administration and management of primary schools.

The Commission supported the Governments move to give secondary schools and other tertiary institutions Boards of Governors to manage them but called for suitable government control over the Boards’ activities.

Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965

Besides the Ominde Report, the Sessional Paper N0. 10 of 1965 on African Socialism and Its Application to Planning in Kenya examined Kenya’s educational needs from an ideological aspect, which was different from colonial administration approaches.

The paper viewed education as ‘the principal means for relieving the shortage of domestic skilled manpower and equalizing economic opportunities for all citizens.

The paper emphasized the need for the country to Work towards the Universal Primary Education as well as expansion of secondary schools to facilitate higher education in order to hasten economic and national development.

Five years after Ominde Commission

The Government responded positively to the Ominde Commission Report by effecting a raft of reforms. Immediately after the report was published, the Government enforced the policy of establishment of non-racial schools in thecountry by giving African students bursaries to join high cost Asian and European schools.

By 1966, the African population in these schools was 30 per cent and increased to 65 percent in 1969 and almost to a 100 per cent in 1970.

Another change concerning those schools was that their foreign names were changed to local names. For instance Duke of York became Lenana High School, Prince of Wales became Nairobi School,Duke of Gloucester changed to Jamhuri, Duchess of Gloucester became Pangani Girls Secondary School and Delamere High School changed to Upper Hill Secondary School.

In 1966, a single common syllabus was also introduced with one common examination. The Kenya Preliminary Examination (KPE)was replaced by Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) and the East African Examinations Council was established in 1967 to administer the East Africa Certificate of Education (EACE) to replace the Cambridge School Certificate (O-Level),and the East Africa Advanced Certificate of Education (EAACE) to replace the Cambridge Advanced School Certificate (A-Level) examination.

The change in the syllabus and examination bodies led to improvement in localizing the content ofeducation. Demand for secondary education continued and development of those Harambee secondary schools increased to 226 in 1966 compared to the 199 government-maintained schools.

The Kenya Junior Secondary Examination (KJSE), Which Was tobe sat at the end of Form Two was reintroduced in 1966 to help some of students in harambee schools to join government schools or to terminate their education to join the labour market.

Nonetheless, the Government started taking over some of these schools in 1967 and in 1969, it started aiding most of them by providing and paying qualified teachers.

Kericho Conference

Influx of primary and secondary school—leavers to towns in search of salaried employment created avenues for criticizing education system. Due to intense reaction to the colonial experience,Ominde Commission had ignored,vocational education in favour of elitist academic education. By 1966, there was an outcry that there existed dichotomy in education a sit had no correlation with the needs of the labour market.

Amid efforts to address the situation, the Government requested Dr Arthur T. Porter, the Principal of University College Nairobi, to convene a conference of experts to advise on how to deal with unemployment crisis of young people leaving school.

The key recommendations of the conference held at Kericho were:

  1. Restructure education system and relate it to rural and urban development;
  2. Increase primary education to nine years;
  3. Delay entry to primary education to age eight;
  4. Establish village polytechnics;
  5. Create sufficient technical skills at village level in marketing and production;
  6. Reform the school curriculum to cater for vocational education.
  7. Wide extension of youth clubs and in all primary and secondary schools
  8. Primary school be made centres of identifying and developing hidden talents scattered throughout the population.
  9. Redirect some harambee schools to provide training for rural development.
  10. Aim of primary education should not simply to prepare the lucky minority for secondary school but to prepare the remaining majority for successful entry into a satisfactory life of Work and to continue education through less formal means.

Teachers Service Commission Act(1961)

In 1967, the Teachers Service Commission Act was enacted, ostensibly giving all teachers one employer,the Teachers Service Commission(TSC). The Act clearly spelt out the teachers’ terms of service making the job acquire a more professional status.

In 1968, Primary Teacher Training Colleges Were consolidated from 36 to 24.

Education Act (1968)

In 1968, the Education Act (Cap211) was published and placed the responsibility of all education matters in the hands of the Government. The Act saw the establishment of the Kenya Institute of Education.

It provided an explicit legal frame work of education in Kenya, and gave guidelines on promotion of education in the country and management of schools.

It also gave direction on registration of private schools, inspection and control of schools, examinations and financing of education.

Through the Act, the Government assumed full responsibility of all education. It also gave school committees and Boards of Governors legal framework for their operations.

Educational policies

Although the Government had implemented most of recommendations made by Ominde and had also acquiesced to some of the urgent public demands by expanding education in all sectors by 1970, there had emerged new clamour for reforms. Educators and parents argued education had failed to address adequately needs of the country and its people.

Education Commissions in Kenya
Education Commissions in Kenya

Education Commissions in Kenya – The Ndegwa Commission

The Commission of Inquiry (Public Service Structure and Remuneration Commission (1970-71) was chaired by Head of Public Service Duncan N. Ndegwa.

Although its mandate concerned the whole of the Civil Service, it made specific recommendations on education that were to influence its development.

The Commission recommended re-establishment of District Education Boards to enable the primary school system to respond effectively to local requirements by the active participation and involvement of the local community.

But more important, Ndegwa commission recommended phasing out of teachers without secondary education.

On secondary education, the Commission recommended diversification of the curriculum to allow more secondary schools to provide technical and vocational subjects. The recommendation was meant to enable secondary education to meet the manpower needs in the country.

It also recommended that the Government should take over all harambee schools and maintain them in order to improve the standards. On technical and vocational education, the Ndegwa Commission said there was a mismatch between technical and vocational education and the job market needs. It recommended reviewing of the curriculum in liaison with commercial and industrial organisations to offer relevant education.

On teacher education, the Commission called for expansion of training of teachers, especially in sciences. The commission urged the Government to ensure that good salaries were offered in order to attract high calibre students in to the teaching profession.

Education Commissions in Kenya – The Gachathi Commission

Ideally, the national Committe oon Educational Objectives and Policies of 1976, thereafter referred to as the Gachathi Committee, was set up to evaluate Kenya’s education system, define new set of educational goals of the second decade of independence and formulate programmes to stem rural-urban migration, propose plans to promote employment creation and suggest how to cut education budget from 15 per cent to seven per cent.

In a nutshell, the Gachathi committee argued that diversification of the school curriculum to include pre-vocational subject would relate better to the social and economic needs of the country later than the examination related education, which concentrated on the cognitive abilities of the learner.

It further observed that although the Government had introduced agriculture and technical subjects in secondary schools, the expected result of making school leavers more employable had not worked out well.

It noted that students regarded agriculture as an academic subject leading to a certificate rather than motivating them towards agricultural activities. The Gachathi committee came up with 338 recommendations.

Education Commissions in Kenya – Key Recommendations of the Gachathi Report of 1976

Some of the key recommendations of the Gachathi Report of 1976 were the proposed nine-year basic education for all children in Kenya, stronger practical orientation  in the secondary school curriculum and establishment of the Kenya National Examination Council.

The report called for the integration of all Harambee secondary schools into the public school system , make kiswahili a compulsory subject in primary schools, proposal to establish the commission for Higher Education and offer external degree programmes at the University of Nairobi.

Education Commissions in Kenya – The Mackay Commission

On January 21, 1981, President Daniel arap Moi appointed Canadian scholar Dr Colin Mackay to prepare detailed plans and recommendations the establishment of a second university.

Mackay’s task was not a new one as in 1976, the Gachathi Report had recommended that Kenyatta university college, a constituent of the University of Nairobi be upgraded into a full university, and that a third university be started.

Education Commissions in Kenya – Key Recommendations of the Mackay Report

The Mackay Report did not only just recommend establishment of a second university in the country but restructured the entire education system to the current 8-4-4 model, of eight years of primary schooling, four years of secondary and minimum of four years at the university. The report recommended scrapping of A-levels and simultaneously added an extra year each to primary and university education, respectively.

The working party recommended cost sharing in university education and the setting up of the second university without taking over any of the existing institutions. This led to the establishment of Moi University in Eldoret in 1984.

The team was opposed to the taking over of institutes of technology by universities but said they should be maintained and supported by the government.

It proposed the establishment of various faculities, schools and institutes at the proposed second university, namely faculties of technology, agriculture, commerce, education, science, veterinary medicine, information sciences, and forestry resources and wildlife management. Others were the faculty of health sciences; social, cultural and development studies, school of graduate studies, school of environmental studies and the institute of applied sciences and technology.

Kiswahili was to be made a compulsary subject at the second university. The second university was to be mandated to open a raft of courses in distance learning.

Education Commissions in Kenya – The Kamunge Commission

The Presidenial Working Party on Education  and Manpower Training for the next decade and Beyond (the Kamunge Commission ) started its work in 1986. Chaired by James M.Kamunge, the team published its final report in 1988.

Education Commissions in Kenya – Key Recommendations of the Kamunge Commission

The team recommended inservice course for the school inspection, who would also be required to upgrade their academic and professional qualifications.

It recommendeed payment of full boarding and feeding fees for students in public schools, training institutes and universities.

The team proposed scrapping of personal allowances given by the government to students in colleges and universities, establishment of more day secondary schools to expand access and recruitment of qualified personnel for pre-schools.

The team proposed compulsory primary education and called for the abolishing of categorisation of schools as high and low cost.

Secondary schools developed and equipped by the government and with teachers paid from public funds were to be designated as public schools.

University education was to be expanded to produce more professionally qualified graduates for secondary school education. Untrained primary teachers were to get in-service training.

The Kamunge team wanted Bachelor of Education programmes in universities to take five years, growth in university standard enrollment be matched with the educational resources and the development of public universities be coordinated and harmonised.

It also proposed admission of day university students and the creation of the Kenya Education Staff Institute.

Education Commissions in Kenya – Impacts of the Implementation of the Kamunge Report

The Kamunge report was acted on almost to the letter by the government, altering the financing of education and relieving the government part of the burden of financing education.

A major impact of the implementation of the Kamunge report was the rise in the cost of education for parents and guardians, resulting in high dropout rates and persistent repetition of classes

Education Commissions in Kenya – The Koech Commission

The commision Inquiry into the Education System of Kenya (1999) that came up with the Koech Report was formed immediately after the panel on the Master Plan on Educationand Training gave its report. Consequently, the Koech report drew heavily from highlights of the problems in education as identified by the panel.

Education Commissions in Kenya – Strengths of 8-4-4 as identified by the Koech Report

  1. Practical subjects introduced the children to life skills and laid the foundation for skills development. Those subjects also oriented pupils towards the dignity of manual work.
  2. An additional year at the primary level provided pupils with adequate time to mature since the majority end their formal schooling at the primary education level.
  3. The increase from seven to eight yeasr at the primary level gives particular advantage to the girls child who completes this cycle at the minimum of 14 years. The system provides increased opportunities for students to compete for the university places compared to the narrow pre-selected A-Level cohorts of the 7-4-2-3 system of education.

Education Commissions in Kenya – Weaknesses of 8-4-4 as identified by the Koech Commission

  1. Lack of incorporation of the pre-school circle as part and parcel of the structure.
  2. The loss of the two years of the higher secondary level that was said to rob the students of the opportunity to mature before entering the universities.
  3. The fact that many students were said to be unable to cope with the transition to the university life and learning styles.
  4. The mismatch between the curriculum content and the time allowed within each level.
  5. The hurried implementation without any prior consultations and preparation.

Education Commissions in Kenya – Key Recommendations of the Koech Commission

To alleviate problems inherent in the 8-4-4 system of education, the Koech Report came up with a system of education labelled as the Totally Integrated Quality Education and Training (TIQET). The report also came up with 558 recommendations.

The Koech commission recommende the replacement of the 8-4-4 system of education with TIQET. Basically Koech Report recommended for expansion of compulsory basic education from eight years to 12 years. It meant secondary education was to be part of basic education. The report emphasied that with time, there should be no examination between primary and secondary school.

The report recommended reduction of subjects offered at secondary level, a move it noted would enhance quality at that level and also make the curriculum manageable. However, the report introduced a pre-university level that would prepare secondary school leavers for university and thus enhance the quality of university entrants.

Education Commissions in Kenya –  Other Key Recommendations of the Koech Commission

  1. Provision of a universal and compulsory basic education in which disparties posrf by geographical factors, social and gender issues should be eliminated leading to equity in education at all levels.
  2. Expansion of opportunities at post-secondary level, so that learners can have flevibility in the pursuit of further studies.
  3. Introduction of modular learning approach and credit accumulation in post-secondary education, which allows for credit transfers from one institution to another.
  4. Introduction of limitless opportunities for access to education through expanded alternative and continuing education.
  5. Introduction of a management curriculum content at all levels of education that does not overburden the learners and teachers.
  6. A comprehensive legal framework that addresses previously omitted aspects of education such as the early chhildhood care, development and education (ECDE), special education and technical education, and which creates new agencies charged with the delivery and coordination of education

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