Christian missionaries played a vital role in the introduction and development of Western education in Kenya. These missionaries began their activities here in the second half of the 19th Century. Although their main aim in coming to Africa was to Christianize a ‘dark and savage’ continent, the provision of rudimentary education was found inevitable. Missionaries had found out that, by having the ability to read the Bible and the hymn book, the early convert would be a valuable asset in getting more of one’s neighbours to Christianity.
It would then appear, the role of Christian missionaries in providing western education to Africans was not by design but accidental. Should this assumption be correct, the entire phenomenon of western education as introduced and provided by Christian missionaries was flawed. In that case, they were to offer an improper education for as long as they were in control all by themselves. From 1895 Kenya became a colonial enclave of Britain up to 1920. Kenya was referred to as the East Africa Protectorate.
The construction of a railway line from Mombasa in 1895 to Kisumu in 1901 was a boom for both missionary and colonial government activities. Missionaries were able to spread out faster by opening more centres in the interior. On the other hand, the colonial administration was able to pacify resistant African groups. Regrettably for indigenous people too, the railway line also saw the in-flaw of European settlers and Asian groups. These aliens were to change the development of events to the disadvantage of Kenyan locals.
Missionary spread out Inspired by the desire to embrace as many adherents as they could, Protestant and Roman Catholic missionaries moved to almost all accessible and habitable regions in Kenya. The Church Missionary Society (CMS) led in this ambitious crusade. From 1844 John Ludwig Krapf of CMS began to explore the East African Coast and was joined in 1846 by Johan Rebman. They established their first mission station at RabaiMpya, among the Rabai people, near Mombasa. Later the CMS operated a station in Taita in 1895.
Other CMS centres were started in the following places: Kahuruko (1901); Weithaga (1903); Kahuhia (1906); Mahiga (1908); Embu (1910) etc. A branch of the CMS also entered Western Kenya from Uganda and in 1903 had set up a mission station at Maseno.
Holy Ghost Fathers set in at Mombasa in 1890 and a year later was also stationed at Bura. They got themselves a station in Nairobi in 1899. Their counterparts, the Consolata Fathers opened stations at Kiambu (1902), Limuru (1903) and Mang’u (1906). Roman Catholics also entered Kenya from Uganda and soon established centres at Kisumu (1903) and later at Mumias and Kakamega.
Other missionary groups that were pivotal in the spread to various parts of the country were: Evangelical Lutheran Mission of Leipzig (from Germany); African Inland Mission; church of Scotland; Friends African Mission (Quakers); Church of God Mission, the Nilotic Independent Mission, the Seventh Day Adventists and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa. Although with other unbecoming consequences for indigenous people the multiplicity of Christian church denominations stirred a rivalry that became a catalyst in the spread of churches and schools. Every other group scrambled for a sphere of influence.
On the whole, by 1920 Christian missionary groups had ‘stuck out their necks’ as important players in the spread of western influences among indigenous people. By 1918, there were 16 missionary bodies active in the country. Roman Catholics and CMS had the largest proportion of schools for Africans. Between them, they controlled 46 station schools and 261 village schools. Mission Education Basically, the purpose behind the establishment of mission stations and schools was to spread Christianity. The provision of education for other ends was therefore secondary to missionaries.
Education was only used as a facility for evangelisation. The curriculum of mission schools was largely religious. Out of this experience, these schools have been referred to as prayer houses. These institutions only taught Christianity. While strongly inclined to offering religious education, a number of factors forced mission schools to include other curricula. First, Africans strongly resented religious education. In a number of cases, students staged strikes and demonstrations to demand for a more secure curriculum. Boys in Mumias at the Mill Hill Fathers schools staged a strike in 1912.
Second, the colonial government urged the missions to include industrial education in their curricula. Third, the circumstantial imperatives of the day necessitated the inclusion of other courses such as industrial education. Missionaries, as well as the colonial administration needed skilled labour to construct buildings, make furniture inter alia. Religious education alone could not produce such manpower. Out of this development therefore, although mission education was largely basic, it had to offer the 3Rs, religious education and industrial training. The method of instruction was by rote learning.
Learners were supposed to memorize and recite whatever they were taught. Missionaries, above all, offered an education that was elementary and designed to keep Africans in their subordinate place i. e. being servants of Europeans. Their educational orientation, in general emphasized the spiritual value of hard work and the principles of evangelical Christianity with an aim of producing hard working Christians. There were two types of schools. There was the village/bush/out-schools. These were feeder schools to the second type – the central mission school.
Village schools offered very rudimentary education. They were under the direction of African catechists. On the other hand, central schools were intended to offer additional curricula. In this case, vocational training in teaching and nursing etc abounded. Vocational training was largely a preserve of the bright students. All said of mission education, by 1920, though many learning institutions had been established; only a handful would pass the litmus test for quality. In the western part of Kenya, only three centres and developed substantial primary school programmes.
These were mission schools at Kaimosi, Maseno and Yala. The same were true of central Kenya with centres at Kabete, Kahuhia, Kikuyu, Tumutumu, Kabaa and Nyeri as main contenders. At the coast full-fledged primary school courses which other elementary schools of the time were not offering. This education did not go beyond six years. The recipients of such a number of years were very few. Whatever missionary activity in education this time, it should be understood that a number of factors influence their orientation, working and results/outcomes.
For instance, due to misconceptions by European anthropologists of the nature of Africans, missionaries were prejudiced in their interaction with Africans. Africans suffered in this interaction and so did their education. Africans were of three categories: stupid, average and intelligent. On the part of missionaries, a majority of them were not professional educators and therefore they tried out what they did not know. A look at the curricula during their training reveals no does of professional training in teaching whatsoever (Anderson, 1970: 25).
Besides, in their bid to expand educational activities they were always curtailed by meagre financial resources. More-so, the colonial government’s policy dictated certain centres that they could hardly achieve and, in the course of ‘playing the tune of the caller’, stumbled. Regrettably for Africans, they were the ones who received all the results of these missionary education mishaps. The lessons learnt by Africans from this unfortunate state of their education were to be instrumental in advocating for schools of their own, if not government-managed, from the 1920s onwards.
THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN THE ESTABLISHMENT AND DEVELOPMENT OF WESTERN EDUCATION IN COLONIAL KENYA UPTO 1920 Between 1895 and 1911, the involvement of the colonial government in the establishment and development of educational opportunities for the indigenous Kenyans was minimal. At this time, the government was more concerned with the pacification of the ethnic groups and inculcating in them a proper respect for the European interpretation of law and order. However, when the colonial administration got involved in education, this sector was seen as a potential source of a better and more efficient labour force.
In this official thinking, through education Kenya would move fast into becoming self-sufficient. The government also wanted indigenous people to be given an education that would help it put into operation its doctrine of indirect rule through chiefs and headmen. These needs of the colonial administration for African education did concur with those of the Europeans settler community. The settlers needed an enlightened labour force that was capable of taking instructions both as house servants and farm workers.
But more significantly, settlers relied on both the missionaries and colonial government for African educational development to offer the ‘right’ kind of education, whereas the colonial government was to control its level. Educational progress during the early period of colonial rule was directed more by the force of circumstances rather than be deliberate and well developed policy. In many cases, the policy that was laid down failed to meet practical needs. More often, policy was frustrated by the conflicting interests of the administrators, the settlers, the missionaries and with time, African interests.
One can then observe if the development of African education in colonial Kenya, it was an unending struggle between conflicting interest groups. The first worthy involvement by the colonial government in educational development was in 1911. A department of education was set up with a Director, James R. Orr, at its helm. The Director was charged with the responsibility of the formulation of educational policy, its implementation and administration in general. The creation of this department followed a report on education in the East African Protectorate produced in 1909 by Prof.
Nelson Frazer, a seasoned Briton on educational matters in India. He had been appointed as Educational Advisor to the British colonial enclaves of East Africa by the colonial office in London. With such an official capacity, Frazer’s report was taken seriously and its proposals followed. One of the lasting legacies of the Frazer Report was the recommendation that education in Kenya be developed along racial lines. African education rested at the bottom of a hierarchy that saw Arab/Asian and European education take prominence in that ascending order.
This bottom position meant that little could be achieved for indigenous Kenyans in terms of educational development. Indeed, throughout the colonial period, African education was treated as an education for the third class citizens. Frazer’s report also encouraged the teaching of technical/industrial education in African school to the chagrin of Africans who saw this as a play to keep them out of mainstream social, economic and political development. But for Frazer, such as education would help the government get more Africans with appropriate technical skills and thereby replace the expensive Asian artisans.
Above all, technical education for many Africans was hoped to foster economic development fir the colony. It would then become self-sufficient. The colonial governments thrust into educational development can also be seen in the system of grants to mission schools that offered industrial education. Through the Department of Education, the government gave out grants on the basis of results. In other words, the more the candidates and the better their results in industrial subjects, the more certain a school would be of a government grant.
Although for some time this measure was resisted by the missionaries, claiming that the government was overstretching its jurisdiction and that this education was costly, by 1912 industrial training in basic skills in smithing, carpentry, agriculture and even typing had started in many schools. Although the third way in which the colonial government got involved in educational development failed disastrously in its experimental schools at Kitui in 1909 for sons of chiefs and headmen, in 1913 the first official government African school was set up in Machakos.
This was a central technical/teacher training school around which a system of village schools developed. The latter served as feeder schools to the former. With the progress of time, into the last half of the 2nd decade of the 20th Century, the government found it imperative to constitute an educational commission. This commission was to collect and collate the various views of the stakeholders on African education. Under the chairmanship of J. W. Barth, the Education commission of East Africa Protectorate of 1918 was
required to, among other terms, “inquire into and report o the extent to which education should immediately be introduced among the native population throughout the protectorate. The report of the 1919 on African education did not offer anything to be applauded by Africans. It was observed that African education continue to emphasize technical/industrial training. This education had also to be religious/Christian but significantly, missionaries were to continue as the main providers of African education. Settler opinion was strongly opposed to the use of English in African schools.
On the whole, these recommendations by the Report having been accepted by the colonial government clearly demonstrated where its learning was on the direction that African educations to follow. In general, we can observe, by the close of 1920, the colonial government had become yet another match-maker in the game of African education. Through the Department of Education and subsequently the outcome of the Education commission of 1918, the administration had begun to lay down policy guidelines on which future developments were to be aligned.
Note that, this commission was the very first official organ that sought comprehensive information from people on the development of western education in colonial Kenya since 1895. Together with the Frazer Report of 1909, they formed the basis of education until 1949 when the Beecher Report was issued. AFRICAN INITIATIVES IN EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN COLONIAL KENYA Indigenous Kenyans were actively involved in the development of their education during the colonial period. This participation was inevitable given the racial differentiation in educational development recommended by the Fraser Report of 1909.
Although Africans began their own initiatives in the development of education as early as 1910, large scale developments were noticeable from the 1930s onwards. African initiatives in the development of their education can be distinguished in two separate approaches. There was the African independent schools movement and the Local Native Councils school movement. Though, by Kenya’s independence, the independent schools had been closed down for political reasons. As part of the African initiatives in the development of education, they had proved a notable success.
In many ways, African initiatives in educational development had compelled the colonial administrative to give African education substantial attention. Independent School Movement The origins of the AIS movement began in 1910. This followed the breakaway by African Christians from missionary control. John Owalo, an adherent of various missionary groups in Nyanza and an experienced CMS school teacher, formed the LUO NOMIYA MISSION in 1910. Later on, this mission built churches and schools free from European missionary control.
African independent schools movement was more pronounced in Central Kenya. This movement took root in the 1930s. An association KISA was formed in 1934 to run schools. A splinter group, KKEA, emerged soon thereafter and was more conservative and did not favour links with the colonial government. In essence, the AIS movement in this region spread fast resulting in the establishment of many schools. By 1939 these schools had a pupil population of 29, 964. In fact, by 1952 when the AIS were all closed down, their number was about 200 with a learner population of over 40,000.
The epitome of the African independent school movement can be discerned in the establishment of Githunguri Teachers College in 1939. This shows that the movement had itself well entrenched that it was able to train its own teachers among other concerns. It is important to note that, the AIS movement was motivated largely by African aspirations on what type of education they thought appropriate. Africans also clamoured for freedom of choice and preservation of their cultural value. European missionary education was largely religious and vocational.
Yet Africans wanted academic education. European missionaries wanted Africans to discard their traditions and this was unacceptable rightfully, to traditional African elders despite the fact that some had been converted to Christianity. Note also that, the African Independent Schools did not necessarily abandon the curriculum existing in the other schools. From 1936 these schools accepted to follow government curriculum. They only tried to fill in gaps. In fact the Government allowed AIS teachers to train at missions and government training institutions.
Local Native Councils Schools African initiatives in educational development also received a boost with the establishment of the Local Native Councils in 1924. These councils were empowered among other activities to vote funds for educational purposes at elementary and primary school levels. A door had therefore been opened, so it seemed, for Africans to direct the course of their development in education. The colonial administration guided the LNCs in their endeavour to promote African educational opportunities.
The LNCs were required to collect up-to 200,000/= to put up a school and have a further 26,000/= for the institution’s annual maintenance. The LNCs were also advised to refer to the intended institutions as Government African Schools (GAS). The 1930s saw many of the LNCs establish their schools. Kakamega GAS enrolled its first pupils in 1932. Kagumo GAS followed in 1933 and Kisii GAS in 1935. Note that these schools were intended to offer primary ‘C’ level of education i. e. standard IV to VI when they started.
However, they had to lower their requirements due to unavailability of candidates. Although the Government desired that the curriculum for these schools emphasize industrial/vocational education, Africans generally supported literary and higher education for their children. Indeed, given the power of the African voice, the 1935 African Primary School syllabus de-emphasized technical/vocational education.
African’s seriousness in the development of these schools is clearly seen in the fact that the three K schools were full primary institutions by 1938 i. e.offered PS Exam at end of standard VI. In 1946 they had grown into junior secondary schools. Before 1963, Kakamega and Kisii were preparing students for the Higher School Certificate Examination i. e. the basic university entry requirement at the time.
The role of the LNCs in the advancement of African education during the colonial epoch was very prominent. Statistics show that these schools quickly outpaced the mission schools in examination results. For example, in the 1939 PS Examination, Kakamega alone had 8 passes compared to 4 from all mission primary schools in North Nyanza.
Kagumo had 15 passes compared to 10 from all mission schools in the region. Many LNCs got encouraged and established their own schools. By 1945 LNC schools were 66. These schools had better terms of service for teachers than most mission schools. Conclusion From these two examples of African initiatives in the development of education in colonial Kenya, we can appropriately claim that Africans played an important role in promoting education. Africans, in the context of political, social and economic imperatives of that period, knew what type of education was necessary.
Essentially it is their effort that compelled the colonial administration to institute appropriate regulations for the education sector. By the time of independence, indigenous Kenyans had vividly known the role of western education in their progress. They had also seen what results emerged from collective effort. Indeed through the AIS and LNC schools, the roots of the ‘Harambee movement’ in the development of the nation had found their depth. TECHNICAL/VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN COLONIAL KENYA Introduction Technical or vocational education can be defined in various ways.
UNESCO (1984) defines this education as one that involves, “in addition to general education, the study of technologies and related sciences and the acquisition of practice, skills and the knowledge relating to occupations in various sectors of economic and social life”. Omulando and Shiundu (1992) define technical education as “instruction in any subject which leads to production in industry, agriculture, trade and commerce”. Whatever definition, any reference to this type of education essentially connotes instruction in subjects that are largely practice/manual, outdoor, equipment-intensive, etc.
In Kenya’s main-stream, education today includes subjects such as – Art and Crafts, Home Science, Agriculture, Business Education and Industrial Education. In the classification of the present 8-4-4 education system for the secondary school cycle, these subjects are in groups IV and V. In group IV are Home Science, Art, Agriculture, Electricity, Woodwork, Metal work, Building and Construction, Power Mechanics and Drawing and Design. Group V subjects include: Music, French, German, Arabic, Accounting, Commerce, Typing and Economics. Origins
From the onset of Western education in Kenya, technical education was conceived and designed as the most suitable education for the indigenous people. A manual-based education for Africans was deemed appropriate due to a number of reasons. Among these reasons were the following: 1. Africans were of a low human species with a level of learning remarkably different from and inferior to that of the average European. In this case, Africans were well suited to menial and tedious occupations such as farming and unskilled labour provided that they could be taught to overcome their natural laziness. 2.
Technical education as seen by the European Settlers would go along way in getting a critical mass of indigenous people with appropriate artisan skills that would render the hiring of the expensive Asian artisans redundant. On the part of Christian Missionaries, such an education for the Africans would lead to their self-sufficiency at the mission centres. 3. Non-academic education for Africans was found most suitable for it would make them passive and thereby being non-rebellious. Literary education offered elsewhere in British colonies had resulted in ‘unfortunate’ experiences for the colonists and this did not need to be repeated.
Development Concerted effort by the colonial government to entrench technical education in African schools was begun shortly after 1911. Experimental grants were offered to some mission schools for the teaching of technical/vocational subjects. These grants-in-aid were given on the basis of student results. Through this effort by 1912, industrial training in basic skills such as smithing, carpentry, agriculture and typing had begun to take shape. The colonial government in 1913 set up her first African school at Machakos to offer both industrial and teacher training.
The emphasis on technical/industrial education for indigenous people in Kenya received a major boost from the Phelps-Stokes Commission of 1924. This was an education commission set forth by the Colonial Office in London. Although largely reiterating the recommendations of the 1919 Education Commission of the East African Protectorate, the Phelps-Stokes Commission urged that education be adapted to the needs of the individual and the community. It believed that industrial training must provide the basis of African education in Kenya.
For a people who were primarily land cultivators and animal keepers, agricultural education was considered an integral component of industrial/ vocational/ technical education. The colonial government found it prudent to establish more schools for Africans with an industrial/technical/vocational bias in this period. Some of the schools established included the Native Industrial Depot – Kabete (1924), Jeanes School – Kabete (1925), Coast Technical School – Waa (1921), Government School – Kapsabet (1925) and Maasai School – Kajiado (1926).
Apart from the Jeanes School and Native Industrial Depot both at Kabete, the rest of the schools offered industrial education suited to their location. For example, the Maasai school at Narok emphasized more of animal husbandry and animal skin curing. More-so, the Kabete educational institutions offered technical education to people/learners who already had had exposure to technical education elsewhere. These institutions offered training on a national level. The curriculum of technical education in colonial Kenya, for Africans, was very simplistic.
This was largely for reasons alluded to earlier. At the Jeanes school for instance, male teachers were taught songs, Swahili, Physical training and games, Religious and moral education, simple hygiene and sanitation, first-aid on fractures, cuts, burns, dysentery, pneumonia, plague and malaria, simple agriculture including ploughing, curing of animal skins and hides, the silk industry, black-smithing and tin-smithing. In essence, these courses were deemed basic for Africans’ sustenance. No provision was made for thorough in-depth study of the subjects.
Although steps were put in place to emphasize technical education in African schools, by 1940 no commendable large-scale progress was in sight. In the case of Agriculture education, for example, whereas a committee in 1928 is on record to have recommended that agriculture be made compulsory and examinable in all rural schools of all grades, nothing was put to practice in this regard by 1940. Instead of Agriculture, Nature study took over as a school subject. This take-over meant that agricultural skills were only to be demonstrated in the school garden.
Agriculture thus became non-compulsory in African schools. The Beecher Report (1949), otherwise referred to as the African Education Commission, decried/lambasted the minimal developments realized in technical education. One of the weaknesses noted was teachers’ lack of conviction and knowledge or training to facilitate the inculcation of the right attitude in students towards technical education. Most significant about the Report was its recommendation that, at primary school level due to the tender ages of the learners, no formal agricultural education be taught.
Instead, schools were to encourage in learners a correct attitude towards agricultural labour and an appreciation of the significance of land. In order for technical education to thrive, the Report recommended, inter alia, constant supervision of the teachers’ attitude and encouragement of resolute partnership between schools and the relevant administrative departments. Although graduates of this education made an impact in their communities, on the whole, African did not receive this type of education with open arms. Political, educational and socio-economic reasons contributed to this cold reception.
Africans felt that it was a European ploy to teach them practical subjects so that they could remain inferior and their subordinates. This education as seen as mediocre and it hampered African political advancement. It is important to note that, in Asian and European schools in the colony no kind of technical education offered in African schools was taught. This difference concretized the African suspicion of the type of education given to them. Educationally, technical education failed since the syllabus lacked flexibility.
More often, the syllabi made little provision for regional variations and thereby some programmes virtually failed. The co-operation sought between departments of Agriculture, Veterinary and Education was inadequate and sometimes contradictory. For example, visits by Agricultural Officers to schools hardly materialized. School calendar was sometimes not in consonance with peak times of agricultural activity. Education officers on their part sometimes lacked the necessary knowledge and even for the specialists they had little or no interest. Teachers often used extra work on the farm or in the workshop as a form of punishment.
Some subjects, particularly Agriculture and Carpentry were not examinable at primary school level. This did not motivate learners to show seriousness. Furthermore, in cases where technical subjects failed to feature at secondary school level, learners hardly wanted to study them at the lower level. Technical education also failed due to what African viewed as proper education. Basically, Africans only saw academic education as the epitome of their children going to school. This meant that, nobody was enthusiastic about the success of technical education. Schooling was only meaningful if learners gained literary academic education.
Socio-economic problems also hampered the success of technical education. It was not easy to acquire funds for purchase of farm and workshop equipment, leave alone acquiring farming land for schools. Since many schools did not receive government grants, they had to rely on local communities for their day-to-day running. However, the envisaged assistance was hard to come by particularly when the projects were for technical education. Parents decried the inclusion of this education in the curriculum and therefore could hardly contribute money to schools for their development.
The colonial government’s policy on the growing of cash crops also served as an impediment to the flourishing of vocational education. Africans were not allowed to grow cash crops. Being allowed to grow subsistence crops alone could not easily lead to the much-needed economic empowerment for Africans. In such a situation, Africans saw no need of giving agricultural educational any seriousness. The lack of demand for people with industrial education skills in the labour market also went along way in curtailing the success of technical education.
At this moment, white-collar jobs were more appealing. To secure such opportunities one needed to have had academic education. This scenario quickly reflected itself in learners’ choices of schools subjects. Technical subjects were rarely their priority. From the foregoing, technical/vocational education had very minimal chances for success. As political independence drew nearer in the early 1960s, more emphasis in education shifted towards academic education. Technical and vocational education only got prominence sometime into the independence era. This was mainly after 1970.
Post-primary and secondary school and technical institutions sprouted in various parts of the country. Among these institutions were Village Youth Polytechnics and Institutes of Science and Technology. Technical/vocational education today is offered in a myriad of institutions ranging from those in mainstream education system to those organized by government ministries, churches and other NGOs. Conclusion Technical/vocational/industrial education in Kenya was originally conceived as an education of the social inferiors. This conception for a long time guided the development of this education.
Policy stipulations for this education were founded on misconceptions. Besides, there was an unrealistic design for this education’s development. Out of this disposition, learners as well as teachers hardly gave the subject serious attention. This scenario meant that even after fifty years or more in operation, little meaningful results had been realized by 1963. The climax of this failure neglect can be discerned in the fact that, technical education was almost entirely disregarded in the education system conceived of immediately after Kenya’s independence.