Anxiety as one million Form Ones report to school today
Irene Githinji @gitshee
School authorities are glaring at an infrastructural nightmare as more than one million learners, who sat their 2020 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), exam join Form One starting today.
The Kenya Secondary Schools Headteachers Association (Kessha) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) say the government has not improved on the existing infrastructure in schools that comes with the 100 per cent transition, thus posing major challenges.
“Whereas the government has instructed schools to reduce school fees because of the shortened term, it is yet to disburse funds for free education for this term.
More so, it has not addressed the issues of teachers shortage and adequate space in the institutions,” said Kuppet Secretary General Akello Misori.
This is the first time that all the more than 5 million learners would be in school at the same time since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha, the 2020 KCPE class will constitute the third cohort of students to be admitted to secondary schools under the Government’s policy of 100 per cent transition.
“I must be honest to admit that we face some challenges in keeping these learners in school once they are admitted to the institutions.
Some of the reasons for this include the negative effects of insecurity in some parts of the country, teenage pregnancies, long distances to school, and poverty; a situation that is expected to worsen as a result of Covid-19,” Prof Magoha said when he launched the Form One selection results in June.
File daily returns
He urged all leaders to continue supporting the ministry in addressing some of these challenges to ensure all students report to school.
As has been the case over the last three years, the CS said his ministry will continue working with their Interior counterpart to facilitate enrolment of every child in secondary school to actualise the 100 per cent transition.
“National administrative arms and other stakeholders will work with county and sub-county education officials to ensure no child is left behind,” Magoha said.
Right from the first day of Form One reporting, ministry officials will be required to file accurate daily returns on the status of reporting to schools.
Of the 1,179,192 candidates that sat the 2020 KCPE examination, 1,171,265 were placed in secondary schools.
This was after excluding inmates, over age candidates and those from refugee camps.
“We have, therefore, placed all candidates in secondary schools in keeping with our 100 per cent transition policy from primary to secondary,” said Magoha when he launched the Form One selection results in June.
Some 36,254 learners are expected to join national schools, 201,077 and 213,591 will be expected to go to extra-county and county schools respectively while the bulk of the learners totalling 718,516 will be expected in sub -ounty secondary schools.
Some 1,827 Special Needs Education (SNE) learners are to join secondary school.
Over the weekend, Magoha called for strict adherence of Covid-19 protocols, even as he warned some administrators permitting the use of school buses for purposes unrelated to academic-related functions.
“Some of the schools are failing to comply with Ministry of Health guidelines on social distancing in motor vehicles, thereby exposing learners to the dangers of Covid-19.
The ministry is, therefore, notifying all school administrators and Boards of Management to use school buses exclusively for academic-related purposes and desist from hiring out the vehicles,” the CS directed.
Magoha also said that owing to a revised school calendar, this term will be nine weeks less as a result schools fees should be reduced.
Already, the Government has ordered strict adherence to guidelines that reduced secondary school fees, saying that the terms are shorter than usual.
“We have agreed, having consulted with the President and he concurred, that we should prolate downwards because the term will be nine weeks less.
The government pays for everything except for the food the child is eating while at school,” said Magoha.
At the same time, the ministry has assured it will disburse both Free Primary Education and Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) funds to cover school activities.
Last week, Director of Secondary Education, Paul Kibet said secondary schools will receive Sh15 billion to cover the first three months of the education calendar and a similar amount will be disbursed in the second quarter.
“The ministry is in the process of preparing disbursements of funds to facilitate running of the schools, especially with Form One admissions from next week.
Congestion will be experienced in secondary schools but we worked to spread out learners during the selection process,” said Kibet when he attended the launch of a report on teacher preparedness for Term 1 in Nairobi.
Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Secretary Dr Nancy Macharia directed that all heads of school stick to stipulated school fees and avoid loading parents with unnecessary levies.
Kessha Chairman Kahi Indimuli said schools require a lot of support and that a lot of funding will be required if social distancing is to be fully implemented.
“Social distancing is going to be a problem. We call upon other stakeholders beyond the Ministry of Education, like counties, to look for funds to improve infrastructure in schools not only for Covid-19 but also prepare for double intake in 2023… if we do not prepare now we will face a lot of challenges.
Saying secondary schools have reduced fees as Government directed, Indimuli prevailed upon parents to give an assurance that the arrears at the end of the year will be paid so that schools are able to mitigate the challenges including to fight Covid-19.
A TSC report launched last week indicated that at least 30 per cent of teachers are worried about Covid-19 management as school resumes for Term 1.
“The level of teachers’ preparedness in the management of Covid-19 in preparation of Term 1, 2021 is fairly adequate and needs further strengthening,” the report stated.
Macharia has urged teachers to take the ongoing Covid-19 immunisation exercise seriously.
She said that starting this month, TSC will be posting 8,914 teachers to schools as part of its determination to ease the curriculum delivery burden on teachers.