Kenya exchanges national knowledge and innovation at the first KIX Africa 19 National Dialogue

What does championing a national dialogue on education within the framework of a regional knowledge and information exchange initiative entail? On September 22, 2021, Kenyan policymakers and researchers shed insight on this dynamic when they participated in an all-day dialogue in Nairobi to deliberate on Kenya’s promising practices and remaining gaps in the education system. The event was the first national dialogue held within the KIX Africa 19 Hub.

The Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX) Africa 19 Hub collects, generates, exchanges, and facilitates the effective use of data, knowledge and innovation for education policy formulation and implementation among 18 Anglophone African countries in six thematic areas: (1) strengthening learning assessment systems, (2) improving teaching and learning, (3) strengthening early childhood care and education, (4) achieving gender equality in and through education, (5) leaving no one behind, and (6) meeting the data challenge in education.

Collaborative from its inception, KIX was established through the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and with funding from the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC). Addressing the question of, “What makes the #GPEKIX different?” at the National Dialogue, Joy Nafungo, Senior Programme Officer at the IDRC, remarked that “GPE is the world’s only partnership and fund entirely dedicated to education in lower-income countries” with IDRC providing “regional presence and experience in scaling solutions.”

Joyce Nafungo of IDRC overviewing the GPE KIX project

Since its launch in late 2020, the Hub has largely focused on designing and implementing interventions   through thematic-based regional exchanges. Direct engagements with country partners mostly consisted of engagements with country partner KIX focal points at ministries of education. However, the Kenya Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM) marked a new milestone for the Hub by spearheading the first KIX national dialogue.

More than thirty participants from NGOs, local education groups (LEGS) engaged in-person and virtually at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, listening and contributing to presentations, panels, and question-and-answer sessions. Anne Ngatia, Kenya KIX focal point at the MoE and Senior Subject Officer at the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC), kickstarted the dialogue by drawing connections between national education priorities and the Hub’s six thematic areas.  Ms. Ngatia recapped learnings and findings from recent KIX interventions in early childhood and education (ECE), teaching and learning (T&L), and education management information systems (EMIS) acknowledging how the Hub "positions regional knowledge and evidence for uptake." Ms. Ngatia’s colleague MoE Director-General Elyas Abdi further welcomed attendees to the KIX engagement emphasizing the “need to institute collective measures…to enhance quality of learning outcomes” on behalf of Dr. Julius Jwan, the Principal Secretary for the State Department for Early Learning and Basic Education.

Anne Ngatia, Kenya KIX focal point at the MoE and Senior Subject Officer at the Kenya National Examinations Council

Over the course of the day, participants actively discussed translating policy into practice and examined the role of the Hub in strengthening capacity within the thematic context of ECE, T&L, and EMIS. Hezron Momanyi, Director of the Central Planning Unit at the MoE, recapped the country’s progress in bolstering its EMIS through achievements in developing the national EMIS, publishing annual data, as well as broadening stakeholder partnerships with groups such as the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the KNEC, and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum (KIC).

MoE Director-General Elyas Abdi welcoming Kenya National Dialogue attendees

On areas that required support, Momanyi said that “KIX initiatives could facilitate…interventions” through areas such as the “enactment of legal and institutional frameworks conducive for timely quality data in education.” reflecting the sentiments and remarks from Dr. Saidou Jallow of UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, who suggested the Hub was “a great example of mobilizing the power of connectivity and collaboration to collect data and share best knowledge and practices” on behalf of the Regional Director, Hubert Gijzen.

Kenya National Dialogue virtual participants

LEGs and NGOs such as Save the Children, Agha Kha, Usawa Agenda, TSC, KNEC, KIC, and the Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN) also shared experiences reflecting the vast expertise and knowledge present. A strong appreciation of contextual knowledge featured during many of the day’s exchanges.

The event offered national actors the chance to engage with presenters’ research and recommendations. During a question-and-answer session, Cosmus Gatuyu, Education Officer at UNHCR, referenced and highlighted the significance of observations shared by monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning expert Timothy Kinoti, who found refugee students and teachers are over-researched and are sometimes “unwilling to participate in [more] research since they feel that ‘they have been interviewed, but nothing happens afterwards.’”

Mr. Kinoti of the World University Service of Canada had presented research and policy recommendations on data management in refugee settings in Kenya. Mr. Gatuyu inquired if “this research does not lead very much to improvement of service delivery for refugees, what would be your suggestions to remediate this situation?”

Kinoti responded, “There has to be a concerted effort among the research actors not to conduct research in similar topics that have been researched in the past.” He continued, “We need to take up the practice of sharing data sets to other institutions for program purposes….and to rethink some of the basic ethical research practices” for example, the issue “of rewarding research participants…especially those who come from very marginalized communities” and he noted the importance of considering “appropriate ways of how to reciprocate to the research participants.”

Timothy Kinoti of World University Service of Canada sharing research findings

Abhiyan Juna Rana, representing KIX consortium partner UNICEF ESARO, stressed the need “to seize this opportunity to reimagine education and build back better”.  The dialogue resulted in a call to action for Kenyan stakeholders to prioritize remaining gaps in the system, synergize national knowledge and expertise, and amplify best practices form Kenya and the region.

Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of the KIX consortium lead UNESCO IICBA, fittingly summarized the national and regional linkages affirming “KIX is really for us to have a culture of dialogue and policy based on facts and research findings. Research findings don’t just come from universities; they come from teachers, communities and students themselves.” Dr. Yokozeki concluding sharing her appreciation for Kenya’s leadership and commitment in spearheading the national dialogue.

UNESCO IICBA Director, Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, sharing acknowledgment and appreciation for national ownership and leadership in launching Kenya KIX National Dialogue