Adult and continuing education (ACE) is considered very important for national development. ACE is provided by the government, faith-based organizations and NGOs. The Board of Adult Education, which is established by an Act of Parliament, coordinates all forms of adult education in the country. The Department of Adult Education is responsible for the implementation of the board's policies and programmes.
The goals and objectives of adult and continuing education are:
- Providing literacy and adult education for youth and adults who miss out of the formal education programmes.
- Providing survival skills.
- Promoting individual development and fulfillment
- Fostering and promoting national unity through promotion of Kiswahili language.
- Bridging illiteracy gap between men and women.
Enrolment in adult education has been characterized by decline in the 1990s, compared to the situation in the late 1970s and the ‘80s. The decline has been attributed to low funding, negative attitude to the programme and an unsuitable curriculum that does not respond to the needs of the learners as well as shortage of teachers. Notable feature of the programme is that it attracts more women than men.
However, there have been attempts in recent years to review the curriculum to make it more responsive to the changing times and learners' needs as well as make the programme more flexible to accommodate the learners' schedules. The latest attempts to revitalize adult literacy programs have seen enrolment rise again. As Table 7 shows, there were 16,324 learners enrolled in literacy classes in 2005. Out of those enrolled, 38,902 were male and 87,422 females. This was an improvement over the 2004 figures, where 109,923 learners were enrolled, with 31,512 makes and 78,411 females.
Further, the government is developing a national qualification framework that will allow for equation of adult learners' certificate and competences with those of the formal education system. This will allow transfer and progression from basic adult literacy to higher academic or professional levels. It has conducted a national literacy survey whose objective is to provide accurate and up-to-date on the level and magnitude of literacy in the country. The findings of the survey will also help in reshaping literacy programmes to meet the felt needs of learners and service providers.