Admission headache for 2020 Form 1 class sets in

Monday, November 25th, 2019 00:00 | By
Maryjoy Kindergarten and Primary School, Mombasa, head teacher Caren Osumba (right), teachers, parents and pupils congratulate their 2019 KCPE candidates. Photo/PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

Education stakeholders have cast doubts over the possibility of the government securing Form One vacancies for the nearly 1.1 million candidates who sat this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam.

The candidates will know the schools to join next year, upon completion of the selection exercise, which started on Tuesday and ends on December 2.

Announcing the KCPE results last Monday, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha assured all the 1,088,456 candidates of a place in Form One in line with the government’s plans to achieve a full transition to secondary school.  

The transition policy, which started last year, has been weighed down by challenges, including inadequate infrastructure and a shortage of teachers. 

An analysis by Scholar shows around 970,000 vacancies are available in January, meaning more than 100,000 candidates could miss Form One admission.

Data from the National Education Management Information System indicates that 960,765 (93 per cent) of the 1,052,334 students who sat the exam last year transited to secondary. This year’s KCPE with over 400 marks are likely to secure slots in national schools.

Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) secretary-general Akello Misori, says secondary schools may not accommodate all the candidates next year. 

“This is unless the Ministry of Education makes instantaneous steps to address some of the pending challenges facing the delivery of basic education,” he says. 

Misori says most schools are already congested as they were forced to over-enrol the first cohort of students under the 100 per cent transition policy. That batch will proceed to Form Two next year. “The ripple effect of last year’s admission calls for swift measures by the ministry to try and solve the underlying challenges,” says Misori. 

Tutors in secondary schools have been calling for an expansion of infrastructure to take care of increased student enrolment.  The Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) national chairman Kahi Indimuli has also been rooting for the deployment of additional teachers to effectively support learning, especially in boarding schools.

Infrastructure woes 

“Going by the high number of students admitted under the new policy, everybody understands there is need to expand our boarding secondary school's facilities to accommodate the extra learners,” Indimuli says, adding that the schools are overstretched following the implementation of the 100 per cent transition policy.

Last week, Magoha expressed satisfaction with the policy implementation, saying necessary measures have been put in place to fulfil it in 2020. 

The Cabinet Secretary said the selection will be done on merit and the ministry will not entertain last-minute changes. “All the candidates whose results have been released should expect to be admitted to Form One. By December, every child who sat the KCPE 2019 will know what school they will join,” he said.

In an effort aimed at tackling the perennial problems, Magoha said the ministry would make available Sh8 billion towards the improvement of infrastructure in primary and secondary schools.  

He said, under the Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project, plans were underway to roll out the multi-million-shilling programme to build classrooms and laboratories in 110 sub-counties in 30 counties next year to ease the pressure on the existing facilities in secondary schools.

Education players, however, say admission of the more than one million learners to secondary schools will not be attainable unless the government solves the underlying problems. 

Kuppet boss, Misori, says the capacity of the public secondary schools is also dented by the current shortage of teachers despite promises by TSC that it will hire interns. 

He stresses the need to construct additional classrooms, dormitories, dining halls, science laboratories and ablution blocks. 

 “There is a need for urgent interventions from the State to address the created gaps,” he says. 

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