Consult more on plan to ban boarding schools
For years now, debate has raged over the pros and cons of boarding schools in the country’s educational system. Leading educationists and the two leading teachers unions, Knut and Kuppet, have advocated for abolishment of boarding schools, which they have variously branded as breeding grounds for juvenile delinquency, substance abuse and examination cheating among other ills.
In a fast changing world, many parents have found themselves too engaged in their daily hustles to the extent of abdicating their responsibilities. In a nutshell, the abolition of boarding schools will see more parents spend time with their children and contribute to their holistic growth. The abolition of boarding schools would also accord parents an opportunity to play a greater responsibility in the upbringing of their children, while teachers are left with the responsibility of imparting knowledge and values to learners.
Developed countries have fully adopted the day school system to this end. Past examination of what ails the country’s education system has in most cases pointed at the boarding schools, which have in previous years been hit by numerous cases of strikes, fire incidents and other unsavoury happenings. Considering that various prescriptions have failed to prevent some of these tragedies, the country needs to come up with new thinking to not only prevent repeats but also address other problems affecting the school system, such as strikes.
The Tuesday pronouncement by Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang that the government will phase out boarding schools from Grade One to Nine starting next year is timely, given that Junior Secondary Schools will now be domiciled in primary schools. Even as the PS gave the policy direction, his pronouncement has, however, some loose ends. For example, was the decision to abolish boarding schools part of the recommendations contained in the report by the Prof Raphael Munavu-led task force on education reforms? If not, how has the government arrived at such a critical policy decision without public participation? And does the decision to phase out boarding schools affect only public institutions, or even the private ones? Whereas it is agreeable that phasing out boarding schools may have the immediate impact of improving access to education, such a far-reaching policy decision ought to have been made after consultations to ensure buy-in and to comply with legal and constitutional provisions. The Ministry, therefore, owes Kenyans a comprehensive statement on the implementation modalities and how the decision was arrived at.