The Kenyan government has unveiled an ambitious plan to tackle falling school enrolment and achieve universal primary education by the year 2015.
Priority will be given to ensuring a school place for children from disadvantaged groups such as the landless, households headed by women, nomadic communities, the disabled and unskilled workers. Also to be targeted are Aids orphans and street children.
The objective is to increase enrolment and then to keep the children in school. In the past 10 years primary enrolment has dropped steadily from 95 per cent to 76 per cent, due to the dire poverty affecting 13 million people.
The number of children enrolled in 16,255 primaries has not risen beyond 5.6m since 1990.
According to Sammy Kyungu, the director of education, the bottom 10 per cent of households send only two-thirds of their children to school compared to nearly 100 per cent in the top 10 per cent of households.
Another concern, say education officials, is that 60 per cent of girls and 55 per cent of boys drop out of primary school.
For universal primary education to be realised, the government expects to increase enrolment by 4.5 per cent each year, and at the same time to tackle dropping out.
However, the plan's success will depend on sustained economic growth of more than 6 per cent each year.
Under the plan the number of subjects taught will be reduced and teachers will concentrate on improving numeracy and literacy skills. Quality textbooks will be provided for schools and decentralised school management systems put in place. More qualified teachers will be deployed in poorer areas and mobile schools will be established for nomadic communities.
To attain those goals, Kenya is banking on donor contributions of 40 million dollars (pound;25m)each year, while the government has pledged 10 per cent of its annual budget to eradicate poverty.