PHILOSOPHICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF EDUCATION: What impact does national and educational philosophy bear on teaching in Kenya?

2a i). Discuss the concept of national and educational philosophy in the Kenyan context.



2.1 Introduction

In this unit, we are going to learn about our country’s national philosophy and educational philosophy which lays the foundation of our education. National philosophy influences educational philosophy and determines a country’s system of education.

2.2 Unit Objectives

By the end this Unit you should be able to:

  • Describe Kenya’s national philosophy.
  • Explain the importance of Kenya’s national philosophy.
  • State our national motto.
  • State the Nyayo philosophy
  • Describe Kenya’s philosophy of education

2.3 National Philosophy

Kenya’s national philosophy defines our country’s political, economic, social and cultural values and lays down the values that are to be pursued for the development and enhancement of quality life. Our country’s national philosophy was formulated after independence. The philosophical basis of the Kenyan society includes the overall objective of achieving social justice that is;

  • Freedom from want
  • Freedom from ignorance
  • Freedom from disease
  • Human dignity
  • Freedom of conscience
  • equal opportunities for all citizens
  • Equal distribution of national income.

At the time of independence and today the majorities of Kenyans were and are in chains of poverty, ignorance and disease, education was meant and is still meant to free Kenyans from the chains of poverty, ignorance, and disease.

2.3.1 National motto

After independence, harambee was adopted as a national motto for development. Harambee symbolizes the concept of mutual social responsibility extended from the family to the whole nation. It encourages people to work together for a common purpose. The harambee spirit expressed through self-help efforts has been central to development since independence. Harambee as a development strategy increases the mobilization of resources for economic and social development.

2.3.2 Nyayo philosophy

The Nyayo philosophy enhances ethical and moral foundations of democratic African socialism. The concept of peace, love, and unity emphasise the traditional subordination of self-interest and the view that selfishness, arrogance and lack of humility are anti-social in the African traditional society.

The tree tenets of Nyayo philosophy (peace, love and unity) provide the foundations of development:

  • Peace. Where there is peace, there is stability and discipline resulting in investments, enterprise and progress.
  • Love. Where there is love, there is trust and readiness to work with others, learn from them and contribute to the cause of nationhood.
  • Unity. Where there is unity, there is strength rooted in the understanding of a common purpose, loyalty, patriotism and mutual dependence.

2.3.3 Recommendations of the Kamunge Commission

The presidential working party on education and manpower training for the next decade and beyond’ also known as the Kamunge Commission was formed in August 1985 and presented its report in March 1988. The main objective of the commission was to review the national education and training for the next decade and beyond and to make recommendations for improving education and training in Kenya.

The Kamunge commission recommended that the harambee spirit as a traditional African concept for development and the Nyayo philosophy of peace, love and unity as foundations for development should be part of national education.

The Kamunge commission also recommended that the concepts and practices of the harambee spirit and the Nyayo philosophy be incorporated in national curricula and taught at all levels of education.

2.3.3 Internationalism

Kenya’s national philosophy also embodies the acceptance of the spirit of internationalism as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. This is important in the global world. National development and survival depend on the ability of a nation to relate and be able to work with other nations and share ideas.

According to the Kamunge report, education and training should:

  • Prepare and equip Kenyans to be strong nationalistic and patriotic towards national independence, integrity and values.
  • Education and training should foster positive international understanding and enable Kenyans to cope with various foreign influences and remain true Kenyans.
  • Develop national cultural programmes to educate and influence Kenyans and inculcate national values and ideals
  • Education and training should prepare Kenyans to be nationalistic and patriotic towards national independence and values.


2.4 Kenya’s philosophy of education

The philosophy of education in Kenya is based on our national philosophy. Educational philosophy appreciates the rationale underlying the objectives emanating from the national philosophy to seek the ultimate reasons that justify the practice of education. The translation of national philosophy into educational philosophy is realized through the country’s system of education. Educational philosophy is always in a consonance with the national philosophy in order for education to fulfill the objectives of national philosophy and to contribute towards national development.

According to Kenya’s philosophy of education, the system of education should:

  • Equal opportunities. Kenya’s philosophy of education stresses the need to develop an egalitarian society by availing equal educational opportunities to every Kenyan regardless of race, sex or creed.
  • Inculcate values. Kenya’s national philosophy of education reminds teachers and managers that education should inculcate cultural, social, economic and political values.
  • Development of an individual. According to the philosophy, education should develop an individual who is committed to national, political and democratic values.
  • United nation. Kenya’s philosophy of education says that education should create a nation united in purpose.
  • Removal of social injustice. Education should remove social injustice and disparities between sexes, regions, social and economic groups.
  • Education should prepare and re-orientate the youth to realize and practice the norms and values of the society.

Learning Activities

  1. Describe Kenya’s National philosophy.
  2. Briefly explain the importance of the value of internationalism.
  3. Describe Kenya’s philosophy of education and highlight its significance..



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