Regional Education Learning Initiative (RELI): Educating the Children furthest left behind by Margaret Wawira

Education remains the most important investment in human capital. As an empowerment right, guaranteed in may international, regional and National human rights treaties and laws/policies, education endows individuals with the means to improve their skills, health, knowledge, and productivity and enhances the economy’s ability to exploit and adapt new technology for social and economic advancement. The promise of education to the world’s children attempts to fulfil their learning needs, and give them an opportunity at a better life in future.

Despite the significant progress towards universal primary education, a vast majority of children are still excluded from school in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, about 61 million children aged 6-11 years are not attending primary school, 60 million young adolescents aged 12-14 years, are not attending lower secondary school, and 142 million youth aged 15 to 17 years, are not attending upper secondary (UNESCO, 2019). Many of these children are in the global south. It is therefore imperative that the interconnections between the players—global north and south become more prominent to advance research, interventions, policies, practices, and pedagogies that can advance learning for children. In this way, we can address the inequality across countries and contexts, in terms of the education of children. This forms a basis for the challenges that RELI seeks to address in the East African region.

The Regional Education Learning initiative (RELI) Kenya is part of the Regional RELI group that brings together over 72 Civil Society groups in the East African region advocating learners who are furthest left behind. RELI-KE’s work is guided by three pillars:

The activities in RELI are implemented along thematic areas under which members are affiliated. The thematic areas include: Equity and Inclusion which looks at opportunities of enhancing equity and inclusion for all learners without discrimination. This is mainly achieved by creating evidence that forms the basis of advocacy work with different duty bearers. The second thematic group is the Learner Centred Teaching (LCT) group which explores strategies of enhancing the learning experience for teachers and learners. The thematic group does this by ideating ways of improving the instruction methods used by teachers so as to reach leaners of different abilities while making learning interesting. The third thematic working group is the Values and Life skills (VaLi) thematic group. VaLi looks at the role of values and life skills in the lives of learners for holistic development of the person. This also involves coming up with ways of measuring and assessing life skills acquisition and how they are being applied in the lives of the person.

RELI-KE hub is currently hosted by Zizi Afrique since 2017 under the guidance of Dr. John Mugo who heads the hub, shares the vision of the network and supports it’s realization. The coordination of education focused CSOs that is at the heart of RELI network cements Zizi Afrique’s belief about the need to coordinate civil society organisations for impactful and effective interventions.

In conclusion, many players in the education arena, have turned their efforts to apply an equitable and inclusive education lens as they look at education provision in the global south. However, questions persist on the likelihood that the entrepreneurial actors in education can meet the needs of children in the era of universal provision of public education. For this reason, it remains important for education partners and implementers (research institutions, civil society organizations and policymakers) to come together to generate the evidence, broker knowledge and “bridge world views” for the sake of not leaving any child behind. And this is exactly what RELI sets to achieve.

Writer-Margaret Wawira, is the RELI-Kenya Country coordinator . For feedback, send an email to

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