Government transition goal real nightmare

Friday, March 13th, 2020 00:00 | By
Education CS Prof George Magoha.

Bernard Gitau, Murimi Mutiga and Roy Lumbe

The government’s 100 per cent transition policy from primary to secondary is quickly turning into a nightmare for schools which have to contend with a rushed exercise that does not take into account the reality on the ground.

  Although in terms of numbers the government appears to have hit its 100 per cent transition rate, the resultant chaos in schools because of congestion has left school heads dealing with lack of boarding facilities for students and teachers. 

Education CS Prof George Magoha two weeks ago questioned the sustainability of the policy when he appeared before the parliamentary committee on education.

The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) secretary general Akelo Misori lamented that the ministry is obsessed with figures at the expense of quality of education and safety of students.

 “The Ministry of Education is obsessed and interested in figures. They have achieved to take all candidates who sat KCPE in 2019 but at what cost?” he posed.

Public rallies 

He equated most classrooms in secondary schools as “public rallies or a church gatherings” with some holding over 70 students.

Misori questioned the sustainability of the programme citing budget constraints to sustain students in schools, teachers’ shortage and infrastructure to accommodate the huge number of students.

 Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) chairman Indimuli Kahi said most public schools are overstretched to the extent that the ratio of teachers to students is not conducive for learning.

Kahi noted that this is an uphill task for most schools to keep the high number of students in school considering the limited amount of capitation allocated to schools.

“We need more classes and boarding facilities. Our suggestion is that parents need to be involved. Teachers are not enough and the number of learners is overwhelming,” he said.

 He decried that if you scatter the learners too much without enough teachers then definitely the quality of education will be lost.

Education CS public declaration of the government achievement for 100 per cent transition goes against the National Education Sector Strategic Plan 2018-2022, which envisioned a staggered implementation. 

According to the plan, the Ministry target was to increase Secondary Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) from 70.3 per cent to 83 per cent and ensure full transition by 2022. 

In absolute numbers, enrolments at secondary school level increased from 2.0 million in 2013 to 2.9 million in 2018 partly due to the Free Day Secondary School initiative.

 To increase the number of eligible boys and girls transiting into and completing free secondary education, the Ministry needed to undertake a national survey on secondary schools’ infrastructure needs; expand single streamed secondary schools in high potential areas to a minimum of three streams, on needs basis.

Strategic plan 

 Under the strategic plan the ministry was to establish additional secondary schools in existing urban primary school sites with dense catchment, construct additional classrooms, libraries, WASH facilities and science laboratories in existing schools.

 It was also required to construct tuition blocks in extra county boarding secondary schools to accommodate day scholars,  provide infrastructure and equipment to cater for different pathways under the restructured education system.

 But the transition seems to have been speeded up, without putting in place the necessary structures to ensure that schools do not grapple with the issue of over-crowding and lack of teachers.  

 Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang who appeared before Education Committee in Parliament two weeks ago revealed fund for capitation in second term will not be more than 10 per cent due to budget constraints, pointing to a looming crisis.

 He said only Sh59.4 billion has been factored in the budget, leaving a deficit of Sh7.8 billion.

“The current enrolment in public secondary schools is 3,023,899 students courtesy of the 100 per cent transition and the cost per child is Sh22,244. Which means that the total requirement is Sh67.3 billion,” said Kipsang.

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