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Kenya-Japan – Mathematics and Science Education in Africa


Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA); Ministry of Education, KENYA

Country (ies):

PROVIDER: KENYA, PARTNER: JAPAN, RECIPIENT: SMASE-WECSA Member Countries; Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe


Kenya & Japan, jointly implemented Strengthening of Mathematics and Science in Secondary Education (SMASSE) through INSET (1998 – 2003 pilot; 2003 – 2008 national programme) for teachers and education managers. SMASE-WECSA was formed for collaboration in addressing common challenges in member countries. Kenya is a beneficiary of the Philippines and Malaysia and a pivotal country in implementing Teacher Training Programmes, workshops and dispatch of experts for over 30 beneficiary African countries under JICA's SSC through at CEMASTEA.


1. 1998– 2003: Kenya & Japan implemented a bilateral technical cooperation pilot INSET project for capacity building in mathematics and science education for teachers and education managers (SMASSE).

2. 2003 – 2008 SMASSE was scaled up to a national programme, reaching over 22,000 teachers and education managers through capacity building programmes.

3. 2002 – 2008: Kenya and the Philippines (UP-NISMED); and Malaysia (SEAMEO-RECSAM) supported by Japan, entered SSC, for capacity building for Kenyan personnel with faster and more efficient transfer of skills.

4. 2001: A network for mathematics and science education, involving 11 African countries and coordinated by SMASSE Kenya is formed, to collaborate in addressing common challenges in mathematics and science education in member countries through INSET for effective pedagogy and classroom practices

5. 2002: SMASE-WECSA registered as an Association, and Japan registered Capacity Development for Mathematics and Science Education in Africa with the UN, as a type 2 initiative

6. Through the SMASE-WECSA network, from 2004 to date, JICA supports Teacher Training Programmes, workshops and dispatch of Kenyan experts for SMASE-WECSA member countries (11 countries in 2001, 33 countries by November, 2009). Kenya is a Pivotal Country in SSC with 32 Beneficiary African Countries, and CEMASTEA as the regional training centre. SMASE-WECSA through Kenya, supported by JICA, benefit from the skills transfer in a more efficient and effective way, since they share common challenges and similar experiences.

7. The main challenge addressed is the quality of teaching, which needs to be strengthened and made effective. This is because most countries in the SSC have acute shortage of qualified teachers, limited teaching and learning resources and limited capacity in education quality assurance.

8. Through SSC Capacity building programmes many countries are able to set up sustainable INSET systems and capacity development programmes for their teachers and education managers, enhance quality of teaching and school management and improve students' performance.

9. Success in SSC is built on ownership, political support and strong leadership. Ownership depends on needs-based capacity building, effective identification of key personnel and the approach used. Strong leadership by the Ministry /respective department is a must for SSC to work since many of the officers in implementation are not answerable to the implementing institutions but to the Ministry and its agencies. Political support ensures that relevant policy, structures and capacity are in place and the programme is integrated in existing national structures under one Director or the Permanent Secretary.


SMASSE implementation strategy is capacity building in mathematics and the sciences through a system of National INSET for Trainers and District INSET for teachers. A technical team of Kenyan and Japanese experts conduct National training for trainers, who conduct INSET for teachers in district INSET centres hosted in selected public secondary schools throughout the country. Administrative structures are in place from national to institutional levels. CEMASTEA is a full-fledged National INSET centre, with 61 full-time academic staff and 4 Japanese experts. 1,442 District trainers conduct INSET for 16,251 teachers at the 108 district centres every year.

SMASSE, at various levels, is managed by committees. The Kenya government finances recurrent expenditure while JICA meets the cost of INSET materials, capacity development for Kenyan personnel in Japan, Malaysia or Philippines and dispatch of Japanese experts (short or long term) for skills transfer.

INSET activities initially targeted secondary schools, but demand made it necessary to take pre-service teacher trainers in diploma teacher training colleges on board. Training programmes in Japan were limited to technical staff and a few Ministry officials but were scaled up to accommodate INSET managers, administrators and field officers. Under SSC, Kenyan personnel are also trained at UP–NISMED and SEAMEO–RECSAM, Malaysia to fast–track and make capacity building more cost-effective. Over 450 Kenyan personnel have so far been trained in Japan, Philippines or Malaysia. Locally, over 19,000 teachers and 938 education managers and field officers have benefitted from SMASSE programme. Implementation was in phases, making expansion neither too limited nor ambitious, hence the smooth scaling up from pilot to national phase. At each stage, the Ministry of Education ensured adequate staff and facilities to meet the needs of INSET. An internal monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system was established to ensure that expansion did not compromise quality. Mid-term and end-term evaluation conducted by JICA and GOK based on Development Assistance Committee Criteria rated SMASSE Project highly successful. Technical cooperation with JICA has expanded, with primary mathematics and science teachers INSET launched in January 2009 for a period for 5 years.

SMASSE INSET addresses teachers' attitude, pedagogy, content mastery and teaching/learning materials. Learner–centred approaches through the Activity–Student–Experiment–Improvisation (ASEI) pedagogic paradigm and the Plan-Do-See-Improve (PDSI) approach are the focus of SMASSE INSET. Teachers design use locally available resources and students' real life situations to improvise teaching /learning materials that enhance learner participation and scientific skills. They improve their skills in work planning, monitoring learning achievement, self and collegial evaluation and utilization of feed back to improve subsequent lessons.

Kenya's experiences on ASEI and PDSI principles have been shared, culminating in the SMASE-WECSA Association. Japan registered 'Capacity Development for Mathematics and Science Education in Africa' as a Type 2 Initiative with the United Nations. The regional component was thus incorporated in phase II of the SMASSE in 2003 and implemented alongside the Kenyan project to train INSET Trainers for member countries. The Network has over 30 African countries, which address common challenges in mathematics and science education at basic education level. Kenya has supported SMASE-WECSA member countries in capacity development through JICA's Third Country Training Programmes (TCTP) and Third Country Expert (TCE). Sensitization activities have been directed at senior education officials, resulting in SMASSE-type INSET in about 20 countries. As the Secretariat, CEMASTEA plans and facilitates Annual Regional Conferences under the auspices of JICA, to provide opportunities for sharing of good practices, promising approaches and strategies to mitigate emerging challenges in teacher development through INSET. Over 1090 participants from 27 countries have benefited so far from various CEMASTEA programmes and activities, all supported by JICA


Kenya has had bilateral technical cooperation with Japan and SSC with the Philippines and Malaysia as a recipient country. JICA's global presence and experience in bilateral technical cooperation for teacher development programmes in UP-NISMED and SEAMEO–RECSAM formed the basis for agreements between Japan, Kenya and the two countries. The agreement for SSC between Kenya, Philippines and Malaysia includes capacity development for member countries where TOTs from SMASE-WECSA countries are trained in Malaysia and Philippines. Through the SMASE–WECSA Network, Kenya is a pivotal in SSC with over 30 countries as beneficiaries. JICA facilitates UP–NISMED and SEAMEO–RECSAM to make presentations during the annual SMASE–WECSA regional conferences. This enables member countries to get linked and benefit directly from training programmes in Malaysia and Philippines directly through JICA offices in their countries. Through the joint efforts of JICA in Kenya and other SMASE-WECSA member countries, Kenya has become a pivotal country in technical cooperation under JICA's Third Country Training Programme and Expert service. As a result, over 1090 personnel from 27 beneficiary countries have been trained at CEMASTEA and INSET programmes started in Uganda, Nigeria, Niger, Malawi, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Tanzania, Sudan and Angola. JICA support, which brings together SMASE-WECSA countries in annual regional conferences where good practices and promising approaches in INSET are shared, has created interest from member countries. JICA facilitates senior education officials from such countries to visit CEMASTEA to study the INSET system and thus benefit from SSC. Technical visits to other African countries that benefit from Kenya enable CEMASTEA to identify training needs and design relevant training. Japan's registration of Capacity Development for Mathematics and science education in Africa with the UN as a type 2 initiative and the consequent technical support for various SMASE-WECSA member countries through CEMASTEA opens doors for match-making that is likely to stretch into the future and link up Kenya and other countries in Africa to countries beyond the continent for SSC. Japan's commitment to teachers' capacity development in Africa for the next 5 years in TICAD IV is bound to lead to new and increased partnerships. Negative impact in the long run is over-dependence on pivotal countries by beneficiary countries and on Northern Countries by South Countries, hence lack of sustainability of SSC. Impact assessment is also difficult, because of diverse backgrounds of teachers and conditions in beneficiary countries

Aid Effectiveness:

Success in SSC is built on ownership, political support and strong leadership. Ownership depends on careful selection of areas for capacity building, effective identification of those that need to be trained for sustainability as well as the approach used. Strong leadership by the Ministry /respective department is a must. If the Ministry does not provide strong leadership at various levels programmes will not work given that many of the officers in implementation are not answerable to the implementing institution such as CEMASTEA. Political support ensures that relevant policy, structures and capacity are in place and that the programme is integrated in existing national structures under one Director or the Permanent Secretary. CEMASTEA personnel have also offered technical assistance to member countries in baseline surveys, INSET project formulation and implementation as well as Monitoring & Evaluation, thereby developing needs-based training programmes or reviewing existing programmes to make them more relevant to beneficiary countries. Some of the training programmes offered, initially in member countries e.g. Lesotho, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland and Uganda, were developed jointly with recipient countries at CEMASTEA under the technical support by CEMASTEA personnel and INSET trainers in member countries. These programmes have given recipient countries skills and confidence to take up INSET activities.

Just like at the country level, regional activities covering pivotal and beneficiary countries must involve all players in ensuring sustainability at country level. DPs developed mechanisms for needs assessment in various countries to facilitate identification of unique requirements and conditions for each participating country. Existence of CEMASTEA as both national and regional training centre for programmes with the collaboration of JICA and ADEA has given the Programme visibility and credibility that enable pivotal and beneficiary countries to take INSET seriously. Recognition of SMASSE as a good practice by the AU has further enhanced its credibility and acceptance. The association that this INSET capacity building programme has had with the above bodies and its success in Kenya has convinced beneficiary countries to develop similar mechanisms that entrench programme activities. This programme may be replicated in other regions of the content by the AU. Managing the results was not clearly included in the experiences and remains still an issue to be thought through.

Capacity Development:

The result of SMASE-WECSA's SSC has been the consensus arrived at that INSET is an important component in the delivery of quality education to all. Consequently, all member countries recognize the need to institutionalize INSET in their policy and development strategies. Many member countries have set up technical teams to deal with issues relating to mathematics and science INSET. These teams are drawn from the over 1,500 personnel, who have benefited from capacity building programmes in Philippines, Malaysia or Kenya. In Kenya, there is evidence that SMASSE has improved performance in mathematics and science subjects over the last 5 years. As a result there is emerging confidence among SSC countries on the mutual benefits that arise from joint capacity building programmes like SMASSE.


1998 – 2003 (Phase I) 2003 – 2008 (Phase II) 2009 – 2013 (Phase III)

Budget (Optional):

This programe has 3 financial resources as follows. 1. JICA USD 2,000,000 per year (Technical Support for the Programme Activities) 2. Kenya Facility and Human Resource through CEMASTEA 3. WECSA Member Countries USD 9,000 per year (Annual Subscription of USD300)

Name of Primary Contact Person:

Professor Karega Mutahi

Title of Primary Contact Person:

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Kenya


Nairobi, Kenya