Kenya’s student identity system seeks to improve education, reduce costs

Students in Nairobi, via the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Kenya is set to launch a new national identity system for all students in late September, allowing officials to track funds and cut costs through more efficient policies.

The newly announced plan, dubbed National Education Management System, will go into effect on Sept. 28, according to Citizen Digital. All schools in Kenya, both public and private, will be required to adopt the system, or they could be closed.

Once in place, all students will have a universal personal identity number that will stick with them throughout their education.

If a student transfers schools or drops out entirely, the identification system will let officials know, and make it easier to track the progress of children. The database will include a student’s name, age, and information about their parents and household.

Kenya hopes the program, also known as NEMIS, will reduce bureaucracy by tracking where funds are allocated, and help improve staff performance. It is already in place in 30 schools across the country.

The nation of Kenya has some 12 million children enrolled in about 120,000 institutions, according to the Global Partnership for Education. There are also an estimated 100,000 teachers in the country.

The program was made possible thanks, in part, to a grant of $88.4 million U.S. from the GPE. The money will go toward teacher training and performance, system appraisal and development, and printing and distribution of textbooks.