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The Yokes of Gender and Class: The Policy Reforms and Implications for Equitable Access to Education in Kenya


  • Njoki Nathani Wane

    (University of Toronto, Canada)

  • Wambui T. Gathenya

    (Ministry of Education, Kenya)


Kenya, a former British colony, attained its political independence in 1963. Despite its political independence, Kenya inherited a colonial education system that was based on segregation and exclusion because of race, culture, class, and gender. This is a qualitative analysis examining the education system in Kenya. In the analysis, we explore gender and class barriers that may inhibit education for women in Kenya. We review existing secondary literature on policy documents; reflect on our experiences and observations; and also reflect on interviews with Njeri and Nyokavi, who live in the 21st century ‘post-colonial’ Kenya. As Kenyan women from subsistence-farming backgrounds, we, the authors, seemed destined to remain at the very bottom of the hierarchical education structure established during the colonial period. We explore the impact of contemporary, globally and locally mandated education policy reforms and emerging social service provision partnerships. These are often packaged as policy reforms and viable strategies of a just, equitable, and fair distribution of opportunities for all, meant to correct the colonial disparities. Our arguments are informed by the system's discursive framework (Wane 2000b) and the anti-colonial discursive framework (Amadiume 1989, 1997; Dei 1999, 2000; Oyewumi 1997; Wane 2002). The analysis authenticates that, since independence, Kenya has realized tremendous educational growth at all levels. However, such educational reforms have resulted in the exclusion of many children who are from low socio-economic groups, in essence replacing the racial segregation of the colonial system with cultural and class-based inequities of the post-colonial society.

Suggested Citation

  • Njoki Nathani Wane & Wambui T. Gathenya, 2003. "The Yokes of Gender and Class: The Policy Reforms and Implications for Equitable Access to Education in Kenya," Managing Global Transitions, University of Primorska, Faculty of Management Koper, vol. 1(2), pages 169-194.
  • Handle: RePEc:mgt:youmgt:v:1:y:2003:i:2:p:169-194

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    JEL classification:

    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy


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