Prin­ci­pals wor­ried over short­age of class­rooms and teach­ers ahead of rise in en­rol­ment

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - NATIONAL NEWS - BY OUMA WANZALA owan­­tion­

Sec­ondary school prin­ci­pals have to brace for tough times ahead as the gov­ern­ment rolls out free sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion in Jan­uary next year.

The pro­gramme is aimed at en­sur­ing that all Stan­dard Eight can­di­dates join Form One.

The schools must be ready with ad­e­quate class­rooms, desks, chairs, lab­o­ra­to­ries and teach­ers to pro­vide qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion to more than 1 mil­lion can­di­dates who sat this year’s Kenya Cer­tifi­cate of Pri­mary Ed­u­ca­tion (KCPE) ex­am­i­na­tion.

De­spite the loom­ing chal­lenges, Ed­u­ca­tion Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Fred Ma­tiang’i yes­ter­day re­mained bullish that the gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing qual­ity and rel­e­vant ed­u­ca­tion.

“We are de­vel­op­ing ev­ery learner’s po­ten­tial at all lev­els through a com­pe­tence-based ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing ap­proach, so as to en­sure that there is pro­vi­sion of skilled hu­man re­sources re­quired to drive sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals in Kenya,” Dr Ma­tiang’i said at the Kenya In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment’s 16th grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony at Sa­fari­com Kasarani Sta­dium.

The Form One stu­dents will be join­ing oth­ers in up­per classes. To­gether, they present a big chal­lenge to school ad­min­is­tra­tors, who have to abide by the gov­ern­ment di­rec­tive while try­ing to make the best use of the lim­ited re­sources avail­able.

Ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment’s plan, 903,200 pupils will join pub­lic sec­ondary schools and 100,322 pri­vate ones.

This year, 790,680 out of the 942,021 can­di­dates who sat last year’s KCPE exam joined sec­ondary schools, record­ing a tran­si­tion rate of 83.93 per cent. In­cluded in this fig­ure were 72,744 can­di­dates who joined pri­vate schools.

To ab­sorb these stu­dents, the gov­ern­ment this year re­leased Sh6 bil­lion to 2,574 se­lected schools out of 8,526, in­clud­ing county and na­tional ones, to build ad­di­tional fa­cil­i­ties such as class­rooms and lab­o­ra­to­ries to ex­pand ca­pac­ity for the ex­pected high en­rol­ment.

If these funds were dis­trib­uted equally to these schools, each one re­ceived about Sh2.3 mil­lion, which ex­perts say is hardly enough to put in place the re­quired fa­cil­i­ties.

A num­ber of prin­ci­pals who spoke to the Satur­day Na­tion but re­quested not to be named for fear of reprisal were ap­pre­hen­sive about the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­gramme. They said their ma­jor con­cern is the short­age of teach­ers, class­rooms, desks and other es­sen­tial in­fra­struc­ture.

“We need mod­ern lab­o­ra­to­ries and class­rooms to ac­com­mo­date more stu­dents and offer qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion. Most day schools hire their own teach­ers and with these devel­op­ments, the ma­jor­ity of par­ents will be re­luc­tant to con­trib­ute any­thing,” said a head­teacher.

Sta­tis­tics from the Ed­u­ca­tion min­istry in­di­cate that sec­ondary schools in the coun­try have a short­age of 47,576 teach­ers. The short­age will get worse when the free day sec­ondary school pro­gramme be­gins in Jan­uary.

A re­port on school un­rest in the coun­try by ca­reer ad­min­is­tra­tor Claire Omolo that was re­leased this year re­vealed that most class­rooms in schools were con­gested, with some hav­ing as many as 65 stu­dents, in­stead of the rec­om­mended 45.

Teach­ers’ unions and ed­u­ca­tion ex­perts are also con­cerned about the speedy roll­out of the pro­gramme.

Kenya Na­tional Union of Teach­ers sec­re­tary-gen­eral Wil­son Sos­sion said key stake­hold­ers in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor had not been con­sulted on the is­sue.

“We have not been con­sulted on the guide­lines. The min­istry has not in­formed us about the so­lu­tion to the short­age of teach­ers, among other im­por­tant is­sues that will en­sure the suc­cess of the pro­gramme,” said Mr Sos­sion.

He said the cost of ed­u­ca­tion, a heavy bur­den for par­ents, would be re­duced if the is­sue of in­di­rect charges, in­clud­ing the pay­ment of teach­ers hired by boards of man­age­ment, are ad­dressed.

“We are wor­ried that the hur­ried im­ple­men­ta­tion of this po­lit­i­cal pol­icy will lead to flood­ing of sec­ondary schools with stu­dents and cre­ate a night­mare to boards of man­age­ment and teach­ers,” said Mr Sos­sion.

He said the Sh25 bil­lion bud­get for the pro­gramme could have been ap­proved and dis­bursed ear­lier in the year to en­able schools to ad­dress their short­com­ings.

Kenya Union of Post-pri­mary Ed­u­ca­tion Teach­ers sec­re­tarygen­eral Akelo Misori said the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment was not con­ducive for the roll­out of the pro­gramme.

“We have to de­velop re­quired in­fra­struc­ture and re­cruit more teach­ers be­fore we can start the pro­gramme,” said Mr Misori.

Moi Uni­ver­sity lec­turer Okumu Bigambo said the plan is po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated and asked the gov­ern­ment to plan ef­fec­tively, in­stead of hur­ry­ing it.

“Schools need books for these stu­dents, more class­rooms and teach­ers,” Prof Bigambo said.

Ed­u­ca­tion ex­pert John Mugo said many sec­ondary schools set up through Con­stituency De­vel­op­ment Fund cash are grap­pling with in­ad­e­quate fa­cil­i­ties, few teach­ers and stu­dents.

“Some schools have just

one or two teach­ers. There are schools with less than 100 stu­dents,” said Dr Mugo.

Na­tional Par­ents As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Ni­cholas Maiyo wel­comed the de­vel­op­ment but ad­mit­ted that the is­sue of teach­ers needed ur­gent at­ten­tion.

“As par­ents, we sup­port this plan as ev­ery child will have an op­por­tu­nity to join sec­ondary school,” said Mr Maiyo.

Kenya Pri­vate School Heads As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Peter Ndoro said their in­sti­tu­tions are ready to re­ceive the ex­tra stu­dents.


Ed­u­ca­tion Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Fred Ma­tiang’i ad­dresses a past press con­fer­ence in Nairobi. With him is Kenya Na­tional Ex­am­i­na­tions Coun­cil chair­man Ge­orge Magoha.

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