Ominde Commission Report
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 of the Commission Were:
- Prof Simeon H. Ominde (Chairman)
- Jeremiah Nyagah
- A.I. Pandya
- K. Ndile
- Taaitta Toowett
- Mrs. Ruth Haber
- J.B. Wambugu
- J.D. Ochieng
- Thomas Lung’ah0
- Paul Fordham
- Dr Mohamed Hyder
- Israel Somen
- David N. Michuki (co-opted)
- C.P. Vivian (co-opted)
- G. V. Krishna (co-opted)
- S.J. Kioni (Co-opted)
- David Mwiraria (co-opted)
- Roger Carter
- 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 Ominde 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 the 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 organization, foster respect for human personality, observe the needs of national development, promote social equality and remove divisions of race, tribe, and religion.
The Ominde Commission Report Video
Ominde Commission Recommendations
From the Ominde Commission recommendations, the Government set out six clear broad goals of education:
- National unity
- National development
- Individual development and self-fulﬁllment
- Social equality
- Respect and development of cultural heritage
- 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 the primary cycle, four years of secondary education, two years of advanced 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 the 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.
Ominde Commission – 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, the 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 a primary and secondary school in preparation of eventually adopting it as the national language.
Ominde Commission – Examinations Board
The Commission recommended the 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 requirements of the examination. 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.
Ominde Commission – Economic Development
The Commission encouraged the development of adult education to enable people with elementary education to participate in national and economic development.
It recommended that religious education be treated like 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.
Ominde Commission – 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 the 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.
Ominde Commission – 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.
Ominde Commission – 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 the country 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 of education. 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 to be 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.
Ominde Commission – Kericho Conference
Influx of primary and secondary school – leavers to towns in search of salaried employment created avenues for criticizing the education system. Due to intense reaction to the colonial experience, Ominde Commission had ignored, vocational education in favor of elitist academic education. By 1966, there was an outcry that there existed dichotomy in education as it had no correlation with the needs of the labor 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 the unemployment crisis of young people leaving school.
The key recommendations of the conference held at Kericho were:
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- Restructure education system and relate it to rural and urban development;
- Increase primary education to nine years;
- Delay entry to primary education to age eight;
- Establish village polytechnics;
- Create sufficient technical skills at village level in marketing and production;
- Reform the school curriculum to cater for vocational education.
- Wide extension of youth clubs and in all primary and secondary schools
- Primary school be made centres of identifying and developing hidden talents scattered throughout the population.
- Redirect some harambee schools to provide training for rural development.
- 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.
Ominde Commission – 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.
Ominde Commission – Education Act (1968)
In 1968, the Education Act (Cap 211) 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.
Ominde Commission – 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.