Summary of the Basic Education Act


The basic education act no 14 of 2013 is a 93 page document that outlines the framework of running basic education in Kenya.

We are cognizant of the fact that not many people have the patient or the time to read through the whole act thus we have tried to summarize its content mostly in relation to the free and compulsory education.

It is an act of parliament that seeks to;

  • Promote and regulate free and compulsory basic education.
  • Provide for accreditation, registration, governance and management of basic education institutions.
  • Provide for the establishment of the National Education Board, Quality Assurance Commission and County Education Board.

Basic Education Guiding Principles

The provision of basic education is guided by the following values and principles;

  1. The right of every child to free and compulsory basic education.
  2. Equitable access for the youth to basic education and equal access to education or institutions.
  3. Promotion of quality and relevance.
  4. Accountability and democratic decision making within the institutions of basic education.
  5. Protection of every child against discrimination within or by an education department or education or institution on any ground whatsoever.
  6. Protection of the right of every child in a public school to equal standards of education including the medium of instructions used in schools for all children of the same educational level.
  7. Advancement and protection of every child in pre-primary and lower primary level of education to be instructed in the language of his or her choice where this is reasonably practicable.
  8. Encouraging independent and critical thinking and cultivating skills, disciplines and capacities for reconstruction and development.
  9. Promotion of peace, integration, cohesion, tolerance, and inclusion as an objective in the provision of basic education.
  10. Elimination of hate speech and tribalism through instructions that promote the proper appreciation of ethnic diversity and culture in society.
  11. Imparting relevant knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to learners to foster the spirit and sense of patriotism, nationhood, unity of purpose, togetherness, and respect.
  12. Promotion of good governance, participation and inclusiveness of parents, communities, private sector and other stakeholders in the development and management of basic education.
  13. Transparency and cost effective use of educational resources and sustainable implementation of educational services.
  14. Ensuring human dignity and integrity of persons engaged in the management of basic education.
  15. Promoting the respect for the right of the child’s opinion in matters that affect the child. Elimination of gender discrimination, corporal punishment or any form of cruel and inhuman treatment or torture.
  16. Promoting the protection of the right of the child to protection, participation, development and survival.
  17. Promotion of innovativeness, inventiveness, creativity, technology transfer and an entrepreneurial culture.
  18. Non-discrimination, encouragement and protection of the marginalized, persons with disabilities and those with special needs.
  19. Enhancement of co-operation, consultation and collaboration among the Cabinet Secretary, Teachers Service Commission, the National Education Board, the County Education Boards, the education and training institutions and other related stakeholders on matters related to education.
  20. Provision of appropriate human resource, funds, equipment, infrastructure and related resources that meet the needs of every child in basic education.
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Functions of the National Educational Board

Below are the functions of the National Educational board as outlined in the act;

  • To advise the Cabinet Secretary and  department of education on policy matters in respect to;
  • Collaborating with quality assurance standards to promote standards in basic education and training.
  • Working with the relevant authorities to ensure barriers to the right quality education are removed and that the government facilitate the realization of the right to education by all Kenyans.
  • The initiation of guidelines of establishing basic education institutions subject to approval by the cabinet secretary.
  • Ensuring all children attend and remain in school till they complete basic education by putting measures in place that will achieve this.
  • Put measures in place that ensures that children transition to the next level of education more so for the vulnerable and marginalized children.

Functions of the County Educational Board.

Below are the functions of the county educational board as outlined in the act;

  • Oversee the operation and management of youth polytechnics and pre-primary education including early childhood care and programs in the county.
  • Co-ordinate and monitor education and training in the county on behalf of the National Education Board.
  • Initiate proposals for policy reforms.
  • Plan, promote, develop and co-ordinate education training and research in the county in accordance with the basic education act.
  • Collaborate with the school board, principal or the head teacher and other stakeholders in management of basic education schools.
  • Register and maintain a databank of education and training institutions in the county.
  • Monitor the conduct of examinations and assessment at the basic education and training levels in the county.
  • Collaborate with TSC on teacher management within the county.
  • Prepare and submit a comprehensive school termly annual report of its mandate not limited to curriculum policy implementation and school based audit report within the county.
  • Ensure all barriers to the right to quality education are removed within the county by co-coordinating  with the relevant agencies.
  • Ensure all children and youth of school going age within the county attend and stay in school to complete education.

Free and compulsory education

The basic education act tasks the Cabinet Secretary to implement the right of every child to free and compulsory basic education.

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He shall do this by;

  • Providing for the establishments of education institutions within a reasonably accessible distance within a county.
  • Establish appropriate boarding schools in arid and semi –arid areas and where it is hard to reach and vulnerable groups.
  • Establish relevant education institutions to cater for gifted and talented learners.
  • Establish special and integrated schools for learners with disability.

Free tuition

No public school shall charge or cause any parent or guardian to pay tuition fee on behalf of a pupil

Compulsory primary and secondary education

  • Every parent whose child is a Kenyan or resides in Kenya shall ensure their child attends an education institution regularly for purposes of physical, mental ,intellectual and social development of the child.
  • Any person who contravenes the above section is committing an offense and can be prosecuted.

Duty of parents and guardian

  • It shall be the responsibility of every parent or guardian to take his or her child to a basic education institution failure to which he shall be deemed to have committed an offence.
  • A parent or guardian shall have the right to participate in the character development of his or her child.

No payment of fee for admission

No admission fee shall be collected by any public school.

Proof of age for admission

  • The age of a child shall be determined on the basis of the birth certificate presented upon admission or at the attainment of school going age of four years given by the proof of another document.
  • No child shall be denied admission for lack of proof of age.

No denial of admission

  • No child shall be denied admission on grounds of ethnicity, sex, religion, race, color, disability, age, language or culture.
  • No public school shall administer a test related to admission of a child to a public school unless it is for placing the child at an appropriate level of education.
  • No child shall be denied admission to a public school.

Incentives and prohibition of holding back expulsion

  • Pupils shall be given appropriate incentives to learn and complete basic education.
  • No pupil shall be expelled from a school or held back in a class.
  • In regards to expulsion, only the CS may make regulations to prescribe expulsions or the discipline of a delinquent pupil for whom all other corrective measures have been exhausted and only after such child parent or guardian has been afforded an opportunity to be heard.
  • Prohibition against physical punishment and mental harassment to the child
  • No pupil shall be subjected to the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in any manner whether physical or psychological .A personal who contravenes this provision is committing an offence.
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Holiday tuition

  • No pupil shall be subjected to holiday tuition.
  • A person who contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand shillings or to imprisonment for not exceeding one year or both.

Prohibition against employment of a child of compulsory school age.

No person shall employ a child of compulsory school age in any labor or occupation that prevents such child from attending school.

Responsibility of the government

  • Provide free and compulsory basic education to every child.
  • Ensure compulsory admission and attendance of children of compulsory school age at an institution offering basic education.
  • Ensure that children belonging to marginalized vulnerable or disadvantage groups are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing basic education.
  • Provide human resources including adequate teaching and non-teaching staff according to the prescribed staffing norms.
  • Provide infrastructure including schools, learning and teaching equipment and appropriate financial resources.
  • Ensure quality basic education conforming to the set standards and norm.
  • Provide special education and training facilities for talented and gifted pupils and those living with disabilities.
  • Ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of basic education by every pupil.
  • Monitor functioning of schools.
  • Advise the national government on financing of infrastructure development for basic education.

Duty of a principal or head teacher

When a pupil fails to attend school the head teacher shall investigate the circumstances of the child absence from school.

Structure of education

  • The system shall be so structured as to enable learner’s access education and training at any level in a sequence and at a pace that may be commensurate with the individual learner’s physical, mental and intellectual abilities and the resources available.
  • The CS in consultation with the National Educational Board and other relevant stakeholders shall make regulations prescribing an appropriate structure for education and training.
  • The CS shall advise the government on the financing of technical, vocational and talent education.
  • The Cabinet Secretary shall advice the government on the promotion of environmental protection education for sustainable development.

Special Education

The Cabinet Secretary shall establish and maintain public special schools.

He shall provide special needs education in special schools to pupils requiring special education.This includes;

  • Intellectually, mentally, physically, visually and emotionally challenged or hearing impaired learners.
  • Pupils with multiple disabilities.
  • Specially gifted and talented learners.

He shall ensure that every special school or education institutions with learners with special needs is provided with appropriate trained teachers, non-teaching staff, learning materials and equitable suitable for such learners.

Source: Basic Education Act No 14: 2013

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