New guidelines not negotiable, Machogu insists
The government yesterday issued tough guidelines to schools as thousands of learners joining Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) reported to their respective institutions.
Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu warned school administrators against imposing extra levies on parents, directing parents on where to buy school uniforms and enforcing the official learning hours between 8 am and 3.45 pm.
Machogu reiterated that JSS education is free in all approved public schools and that no head teacher or Board of Management (BoM) should come up with unauthorised levies.
Similarly, the CS issued a strict warning over school hours saying the law provides that they run from 8 am to 3.45 pm and should not start any earlier or end later.
“We have said very clearly that the government is giving capitation for this particular level of education. In primary schools, we normally give Sh1,420 as capitation for every pupil and for JSS, we are giving Sh15,000 per student,” the CS said when he monitored the first day of JSS learners reporting back to school at Nairobi Primary and JSS.
“JSS, as per Article 53 of the Constitution, is free and compulsory. We expect that we will have a 100 per cent transition such that no one child will remain at home. We also say it is free… that there is no money required or any registration fee,” added the CS.
He said he had noted a bad practice regarding school hours, which is subjecting children to unnecessary strain as they start at 7.00 am and end after 5.00 pm.
“We have given very clear instructions as a Ministry and taking into consideration the syllabus coverage, it will be properly covered from 8.00 am to 3.45 pm. Let us not subject our children to unnecessary mental torture. You find a 5-year-old is woken up at 5.00 am… I’m very categorical on this and want all school heads including secondary school to follow, we want them to have enough rest and not unnecessary strain. We will not allow that,” he stated.
He said the Ministry has made it mandatory that 25 per cent of the capitation given to each JSS learner will be used for infrastructure development, bearing in mind that schools will require laboratories.
Machogu said that JSS capitation will be released next week while primary and secondary will get it this week.
Capitation and infrastructure
This means that Sh4,000 of each learner’s capitation will go towards infrastructure, even as he said that the Ministry has requested Members of the National Assembly to commit part of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) towards this course.
He also said the Ministry is in agreement with World Bank to give funds to put up 10,000 laboratories countrywide.
The government has also disbursed Sh3 billion to purchase all required books and so far 17.8 million books for twelve learning areas have been distributed.
“No one will require students to buy additional books because what we have provided is adequate. The Government has also distributed 423,000 teacher copies to all JSS. Optional subjects textbooks have also been provided,” Machogu said.
For private schools, the CS said all Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) approved textbooks are available at bookstores. Books must be distributed to all schools by February 17 countrywide.
He said learners should use the uniform they had until the BoM comes up with a new one and adequate time should be given to parents to purchase.
“There will be no requirement from anybody for parents to go to specific shops to buy uniforms, all the school management should do is to indicate the kind of uniform required, the colour and specifications and from there, parents are at liberty to buy uniform they so wish,” the CS directed.
At the moment, there will be one principal for primary and JSS and the current BoMs will remain for the time being but operate separate accounts for both levels.
From the analysis done for Kenya Primary Schools Education Assessment (KPSEA), the CS a majority of the subjects scored beyond expectations, in line with the CBC grading system while others showed more work needs to be done.
The CS said a system has been developed to ensure a seamless transition to JSS and should be implemented along with the guidelines released last week.
In Nakuru, County Director of Education Fredrick Osewe who spoke at Moi Primary School when he led Ministry officials in inspecting the registration exercise added that neighbouring institutions will be required to share facilities such as laboratories.
“This collaboration is to facilitate the teaching of practical subjects such as integrated science, agriculture, computer science, home science, visual and performing arts,” stated the director.
While stating that the government was committed to achieving 100 per cent transition Osewe also said schools should not direct parents where to purchase new JSS uniforms. “No learners shall be excluded from reporting to school on Monday next week for failure to afford a school uniform,” he stated.
Osewe said the ministry shall also develop and implement a framework for sharing and management of infrastructure and human resources among JSS and other public as well as private institutions.
According to the guidelines on JSS, some of the facilities to be shared include pitches, open spaces and other relevant facilities and equipment for athletics, games, physical fitness and health.
Others include small plots or spaces for innovative agricultural practices and assorted farm tools and equipment. Computer science laboratory with adequate computer sets.
Machogu is on record that the infrastructure and resource-sharing arrangements shall be implemented in accordance with existing government regulations and policies and coordinated by the county director of education.
Others include counselling rooms or space for psycho-social support and other learner support programmes, a library with relevant (digital as well as physical) learning resources and a home science room with provision for laundry, cooking and sewing areas/space.