Schools strain to ad­mit high Form 1 num­bers

Na­tional and county gov­ern­ments asked to come to the aid of the schools

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SUN­DAY NA­TION TEAM news­[email protected]­tion­media.com Re­ported by Der­ick Lu­vega, Gai­tano Pessa, Vi­vere Nandiemo, Ben­son Ayienda, Ouma Wan­zala, Joseph Wan­gui, Win­nie Atieno, Macharia Mwangi, Waikwa Maina, Joseph Openda, John Njoroge, Steve Nju­guna, Tom Ma­toke

Fresh headache as rule to take a mil­lion KCPE can­di­dates to sec­ondary school tests fa­cil­i­ties with fears of con­ges­tion

Sec­ondary schools are grap­pling with con­ges­tion as the gov­ern­ment im­ple­ments the 100 per cent tran­si­tion pol­icy.

A re­cent sur­vey by the Sun­day Na­tion es­tab­lished that most prin­ci­pals have con­verted dis­pen­saries, lab­o­ra­to­ries, stores, li­braries and dis­used build­ings into class­rooms and dor­mi­to­ries to cope with huge num­ber of stu­dents.

Yes­ter­day, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion ac­knowl­edged the prob­lem and told head teach­ers that it is look­ing into ways of ad­dress­ing it.

Ed­u­ca­tion Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Amina Mo­hamed said the con­ges­tion was ex­pected due to the new pol­icy.

“There are qual­ity as­sur­ance teams to­gether with re­gional di­rec­tors of ed­u­ca­tion, county ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tors and sub-county ed­u­ca­tion chiefs go­ing around the coun­try to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion and see what in­ter­ven­tions are re­quired,” the min­is­ter said in a state­ment.

“The 100 per cent tran­si­tion pol­icy will not be di­luted or aban­doned. It must be fully im­ple­mented. We will deal with the is­sues aris­ing as a re­sult of the pol­icy in a timely and ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner.”

The 1,052,364 can­di­dates who sat the Kenya Cer­tifi­cate of Pri­mary Ed­u­ca­tion ex­am­i­na­tion in Novem­ber last year are ex­pected to join the more than two mil­lion stu­dents al­ready in sec­ondary schools across the coun­try.

Ed­u­ca­tion stake­hold­ers say the in­sti­tu­tions re­quire more class­rooms, dor­mi­to­ries, bath­rooms, toi­lets, din­ing halls, desks, chairs, lab­o­ra­to­ries and teach­ers.

De­spite re­quests by the Teach­ers Ser­vice Com­mis­sion for funds to re­cruit 12,000 sec­ondary school tu­tors, an­nu­ally, it was given money to hire only 7,000 in 2018.

The gov­ern­ment also said it set aside Sh16 bil­lion for in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment in close to 10,000 schools coun­try­wide.

It has, how­ever, emerged that the funds were de­ducted from var­i­ous vote heads in the cur­rent bud­get of the Min­istry for schools.

In Vi­higa, for in­stance, nearly all schools in the county are grap­pling with mas­sive con­ges­tion.

Head teach­ers and boards of man­age­ment mem­bers told the Sun­day Na­tion that they put up ad­di­tional classes and dor­mi­to­ries to ease the strain on those avail­able.

At Chavakali High School, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has set up a sev­enth stream to ac­com­mo­date its more than 1,900 stu­dents.

Mr John Kuria, the prin­ci­pal, said the school had a va­cancy for 480 Form Ones but more than the num­ber have al­ready re­ported and oth­ers are still ar­riv­ing.

"The school is con­gested but we have em­braced the new ad­mis­sion pol­icy. We are sup­posed to be a 10-streamed school but we only have 28 classes," Mr Kuria told the Sun­day Na­tion.

At Kaimosi Girls High School, which has a stu­dent pop­u­la­tion of 1,800, the ad­min­is­tra­tion built four ex­tra class­rooms last year.

Kaimosi Girls prin­ci­pal Ever­lyne Od­hi­ambo said the class­rooms have eased con­ges­tion.

The prin­ci­pal of Kanga Boys High School, Mig­ori Michael Kaunda Og­weno said the in­sti­tu­tion is grap­pling with chal­lenges of over­stretched fa­cil­i­ties and a mas­sive teacher short­age.

At St Paul's Ombo Mixed Sec­ondary School in Uriri con­stituency, some stu­dents are learn­ing un­der trees.

Ac­cord­ing to the head teacher, Mr Isaac Odongo, res­i­dents pre­fer tak­ing their chil­dren to the school be­cause the fees is rel­a­tively low.

One class has 124 stu­dents. The rec­om­mended max­i­mum num­ber of learn­ers per class, ac­cord­ing to the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry, is 40.

"The num­ber of stu­dents is big but we can­not turn them away or run away from the prob­lem. That is why we have come up with makeshift class­rooms," Mr Odongo said.

Head teach­ers in Bu­sia County are also face sim­i­lar prob­lems.

Mr Joseph Onyango, the prin­ci­pal of Nam­bale Ur­ban Sec­ondary School, said the big num­ber of Form One stu­dents is strain­ing the few avail­able re­sources.

“De­spite be­ing a mixed day school, we don't have enough class­rooms. Al­most 240 Form Ones have re­ported and we ex­pect the num­ber to in­crease in the com­ing two weeks,” Mr Onyango told re­porters.

In Ny­eri County, prin­ci­pals say they will not ad­mit more stu­dents.

At Ny­eri High School, the prin­ci­pal James Maina said he would ad­mit 360 Form Ones, "which is our ca­pac­ity".

“About 335 have al­ready re­ported and we ex­pect the rest by Mon­day,” Mr Maina said.

St Mary Boys High School head teacher Pe­ter Kombe said the ad­mis­sion was based on bed ca­pac­ity.

The num­ber of Form Ones who joined the school is 110.

“We are at full ca­pac­ity. The stu­dents will be in two streams of 55 each and it is tough. A hun­dred oth­ers are on the wait­ing list but there is no va­cancy,” Mr Kombe said.

Othaya Boys High School prin­ci­pal Ed­ward Waititu said he would only ad­mit 288 Form Ones, "be­cause our fa­cil­i­ties are lim­ited".

Mama Ngina Girls and Shimo La Tewa Boys schools in Mom­basa County are also grap­pling with con­ges­tion af­ter ad­mit­ting a big num­ber of Form Ones.

In Nakuru County, Naivasha Girls Sec­ondary School prin­ci­pal Su­san Mun­dia said the class­rooms, lab­o­ra­to­ries, dor­mi­to­ries and other fa­cil­i­ties are over­stretched af­ter 465 stu­dents re­ported last week.

She said a cu­bi­cle, which nor­mally houses eight learn­ers, now has twice that num­ber.

“We are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a se­ri­ous con­ges­tion cri­sis and are look­ing for the best way to ad­dress it,” the prin­ci­pal told re­porters yes­ter­day.

The sit­u­a­tion is the same at Karima Girls High School.

School prin­ci­pal Grace Wan­jiru ad­mit­ted that the chal­lenge is huge.

“There is a short­age of ac­com­mo­da­tion, toi­lets, lab­o­ra­to­ries and other vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture,” she said, adding that she hopes some prob­lems would be solved soon.

Mr Ge­orge Muchendu, the prin­ci­pal of Jomo Keny­atta Boys High School in Ba­hati con­stituency, Nakuru County said the in­sti­tu­tion ex­pects to re­ceive al­most 500 new stu­dents against its ca­pac­ity of 450.

At El­bur­gon Sec­ondary School, a teacher said there would be an ac­com­mo­da­tion cri­sis when all the new stu­dents re­port.

“We usu­ally ad­mit 176 stu­dents but the num­ber has risen to 188 this year. That means ev­ery class will have a min­i­mum of 57 learn­ers in­stead of 45,” the

teacher, who did not want to be named, told the Sun­day Na­tion.

Nyahu­ruru Boys High School head teacher Sa­muel Kahura down­played the “cri­sis” and said the in­sti­tu­tion has enough fa­cil­i­ties and is ready to ac­com­mo­date the ex­tra num­ber of new stu­dents.

“We are com­mis­sion­ing a new dor­mi­tory this year and we ex­pect to cre­ate more space for the ex­tra num­ber of learn­ers,” Mr Kahura said.

St Joseph Chep­terit Girls in Nandi County is in a cri­sis fol­low­ing the ad­mis­sion of 300 Form Ones.

Teach­ers said the dor­mi­to­ries and classes have be­come con­gested.

They asked the na­tional and county gov­ern­ments to come to the aid of the school.

In West Pokot County, Kapen­guria Boys High School head teacher Moses Ndenda said there is a need for in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment and ex­pan­sion in learn­ing in­sti­tu­tions in the arid re­gion.

In a re­port to the Na­tional As­sem­bly last Novem­ber, Au­di­tor-gen­eral Ed­ward Ouko said most sec­ondary schools in the coun­try do not have enough dor­mi­to­ries, li­braries and teach­ers.

Most of the lab­o­ra­to­ries and li­braries in the other schools are ill-equipped, the re­port added.

“To cope with the sit­u­a­tion, some schools have in­tro­duced triple-decker beds in the dor­mi­to­ries, con­trary to the qual­ity as­sur­ance stan­dards that re­quire a bed to be ei­ther sin­gle or dou­ble-deck,” Mr Ouko said in his re­port.

Con­tacted yes­ter­day, Kenya Sec­ondary School Heads As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Kahi Indimuli ad­mit­ted that learn­ing in­sti­tu­tions are fac­ing a con­ges­tion cri­sis.

Mr Indimuli asked the gov­ern­ment to al­lo­cate more funds to the TSC in or­der to re­cruit more teach­ers if the 100 per cent tran­si­tion from pri­mary to sec­ondary school pol­icy is to suc­ceed.

School heads also took is­sue with the gov­ern­ment for re­duc­ing per­sonal emol­u­ment al­lo­ca­tions, say­ing the funds are used by boards of man­age­ment to re­cruit teach­ers and the sub­or­di­nate staff.

“County and sub-county schools have taken 70 per cent of all the new stu­dents but have no funds for ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture. Some have only two or three teach­ers em­ployed by the com­mis­sion. This makes it hard for stu­dents to get qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion,” a prin­ci­pal told the Sun­day Na­tion.

Early this month, TSC of­fi­cials raised con­cerns over a pos­si­ble cri­sis in ed­u­ca­tion this year un­less close to 70,000 teach­ers are re­cruited to sup­port the grow­ing stu­dent pop­u­la­tion in schools.

JEFF ANGOTE | NA­TION

Form One stu­dents dur­ing their ad­mis­sion at Jamhuri High School, Nairobi on Fri­day. Kenya Sec­ondary School Heads As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Kahi Indimuli has asked the gov­ern­ment to re­cruit more teach­ers.

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