Why schools should stick to core calling

Friday, January 27th, 2023 01:00 | By
KNEC working on summative assessment of learners
Students in a classroom. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Often considered parlance mainly used in business circles, the concept of ‘core business’ is something institutions of learning need to familiarise themselves with and realise it is an ingredient in the achievement of excellence. Teaching and learning is the ultimate core business of all education institutions and anything besides it is a mere deviation.

The directive by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria banning schools from selling uniform, textbooks and revision materials in pursuit of revenues and kick-backs from suppliers is a good start. It could help weed out manipulative school heads who have no qualms exploiting any opportunity that gives them a chance to fleece helpless parents.

‘Core business’ is an important principle of management, which requires organisations to focus on their main business, which must generate profitability and position them in an advantageous position within the competition.

Schools heads should concern themselves with their core responsibilities: knowledge transfer, providing students with an opportunity to learn, and creating a safe and orderly environment — and not with, justifiably worthy but less vital efforts like,  becoming supply outlets.

School heads have justified this act as a basis of achieving uniformity. But it is normal that every academic term, different colour shades of uniform are noted in schools, and this is mainly because the fabric used to sew the uniform is not manufactured locally, but imported, making it difficult to guarantee the actual shade with each new consignment.

It goes without saying that this is a money-minting strategy, considering that selling school uniforms is a lucrative business and shrewd head teachers want to cash in. However, even so, the poor quality of materials used in stitching the uniforms, and the exorbitant price charged, only shows it is a cash-making opportunity.

To force parents to purchase school uniforms in schools, or to buy from specific suppliers, is immoral, because it opens up avenues for manipulation — breeding monopoly, price-fixing and poor quality. This issue merits an investigation and the Ministry of Education should come up with a policy or some form of monitoring and control.

The investigations should also seal loopholes such as tuition/remedial fees, which are smartly collected by parents’ class representatives, mandatory purchase of revision books published by subject teachers, and shaming of pupils whose parents are unable to afford such unnecessary supplies.

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