The Intervarsity Human Rights Debate Championship 2018 (IHRD 2018) officially opened today at Strathmore University and will run for two days 30th November and 1st December.  The event is expected to bring together 22 varsities reaching over 8000 students. 

Initiated in 2012, this annual event creates a forum for university and college students to participate in positive and productive human rights discourse through thematic debates.  This year’s theme, Privatization of Education in Kenya,  is put in context with the position that education is not a privilege but a human right and calls for the state to meet their obligation to protect, respect and fulfill the right to education. 

The constitution of Kenya 2010, Article 43(f) recognizes education as a human right.  The basic education act 2013 also provides legal parameters for the provision of quality education in the country.  Kenya has also ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989, CRC), which sites provision of education as a right every child deserves to enjoy.  Furthermore Agenda 2030 on the sustainable development goals sites continuous lifelong learning as a key component of the development agenda under goal 4. 

In August 2018, SCOHRA Society through a focus group discussion asked students what they thought about privatization of education in the country, respondents reported that most private schools are more nurturing and teach more responsibility, norms and values in early years.  Many felt that the quality of education is lower in public schools with some schools teaching in mother tongue and with a ratio of 1:7 students to book compared to 1:1 in private schools.  Additionally, majority of the respondents reported not knowing the existing policy that manages privatization. Furthermore, increased access due to the Government’s commitment to free primary and secondary education is indisputable. In April 2018, private schools registered  a total population of 1.82 million students while public schools had registered 8.7 million. 

The IHRD 2018 therefore aims i) to provoke knowledge and generate innovative strategies through human rights education towards the realization of SDG 4 ii) to campaign for the full implementation of the right to education and iii) to propose solutions in cases where education policies deny access.   

Since its conception the debate has attracted an increasing number of student participants for both the debate and public speaking categories.  In recent years, more students and youth have been reached through regional sensitization trainings held as a lead up to this final competition.  Past debate themes have been; Housing Rights (2012), Poverty and Human Rights (2013), Torture and National Security (2014), Refugees, Rights and Security (2015), Accountability (2016) and the right to education in relation to SDG 4 (2017). 

SCOHRA Society is a youth organization which mobilizes students in higher learning institutions to actively participate in human rights advocacy. Amnesty International Kenya (AIK) is a non-governmental organization dedicated to human rights work in Kenya. 

For more information or to arrange an interview, please call + 254 750652892 or email: [email protected]