Infrastructure crisis as 1.2m set to join Form One

Monday, April 4th, 2022 02:00 | By
Top KCPE 2021 Bruce Mackenzie Magata who scored 428 marks celebrates at his home in Rongai, Kajiado County shortly after results were announced yesterday PD/Njenga Kungu

The more than 10,000 secondary schools are facing serious infrastructure challenges as they prepare to receive the 1.2 million candidates who sat the 2021 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations whose results were released last week.

To implement the 100 per cent transition policy, the government intends to place all the 1.2 million candidates, who sat the examination, in secondary school.

This year, 34,800 more students are expected to join Form One compared to last year.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has for the past three years supervised the implementation of the 100 per cent transition policy in conjunction with the administrative arm of the national government and county and sub-county education officials.

“In line with the government’s 100 per cent transition policy, all the 1,214,031 candidates will be admitted to secondary schools. Already, the Ministry has put in place measures to ensure the selection exercise is conducted the soonest possible to ensure candidates join Form One soon given that the next academic calendar is short,” Prof Magoha said last week when he released the 2021 KCPE exam results.

From the first day of Form One reporting, ministry officials are required to file accurate daily returns on the status of reporting to schools.

Similarly, parents or guardians and school managers are expected to facilitate smooth admission to secondary school for new students. Although education stakeholders support the 100 per cent policy, there are concerns about schools struggling to implement it saying congestion in the institutions has been increasing every year.

Over the years, secondary school enrollment has sharply risen though, in most cases, the growth has not been matched by expansion of facilities.

Some schools have had to create temporary structures to accommodate the extra students.

The Kenya Secondary School Heads Association has been at the forefront in seeking more support from government as the population of learners increases.

The question of teacher-student ratio has also been raised as schools have been forced to not only increase the number of streams but also learners in one class.

Last year, for instance, some schools had up to 90 students in a single Form One class against a recommended size of about 40, which raises questions of direct interaction with teachers.

Limited resources

This comes at a time when the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) says there is still a 114,581 shortage of teachers in primary and post-primary institutions due to increased enrollment arising from growing number of school-age children, the 100 per cent transition policy, registration of new schools and natural attrition factors.

This is despite the government recruiting an average of 5,000 teachers annually.

“From time to time, we have had to review staffing placements to ensure no part of our country is disadvantaged in terms of sharing the limited teaching resources,” said the TSC.

And as Form One placement continues, Magoha has assured of integrity and urged those tasked with doing the job to deliver within the set timelines.

“The Ministry has put in place measures to ensure the selection exercise is conducted soonest. Within two weeks, I will want to know whether it is complete or not,” said the CS when he released KCPE exam results last week.

The 2021 KCPE results statistics indicate that 11,857 candidates scored 400 and above out of the possible 500 marks, thus qualifying for a place in the 103 national schools.

Some 315,275 candidates scored 300 to 399 marks, 578,197 had 200 – 299 marks, 307,532 had 100 – 199 marks while 1,170 had between 0 – 99 marks. All the candidates are expected to transition to secondary school.

The placement will also be conducted based on school choices, performance and affirmative action among other factors.

Fair selection

The Kenya Private Schools Association  chairman Charles Ochome urged the government to be fair in Form One selection as it had happened in the previous year.

“We have had good relations with the government as far as placement is concerned and urge it to continue to observe merit and other aspects like affirmative action. The most important thing is the interest of the child,” said Ochome.

He said many parents were already seeking to secure places for their children in private secondary schools even before the government releases the results of the Form One placement exercise.

“We are already receiving thousands of requests from parents to admit their children. We have many private secondary schools in the country and there are those whose parents prefer them. We welcome them to our institutions,” he added.

Private secondary schools have an estimated capacity of 200,000 learners, which complements government efforts to provide education for all.

Education expert Mutheu Kasanga congratulated the KCPE candidates for their performance saying the country is gradually recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, which had a serious effect in the education sector.

“This year we had more candidates with 400 marks and above and we celebrate them. KCPE is only a big interview. The strategies put in place so as to avoid losing an academic year is paying off,” she said.

Kasanga said she supports the 100 per cent transition policy because it ensures that every child gets the chance to get secondary education.

According to Kasanga, 78 per cent of the schools in the country are day schools which offer Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) while the remaining 28 per cent are boarding.

Mutheu urged parents who are uncomfortable with the public schools their children are placed in to consider the private option.

“Some parents want their children to go to boarding schools but are not happy about the schools they are taken to. Candidates make choices from a set of schools at the beginning of their Class 8 before reality hits,” she explained.

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