Principals, CS clash as Form Ones report
The government was yesterday headed on a collision course with principals over the high number of Form One students seeking admission in the country.
Yesterday, Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha maintained that schools admit all the learners even as headteachers decried congestion and lack of facilities to accommodate huge numbers.
Magoha said as far as the ministry is concerned, no school should fail to admit students for whatever reason be it space, fees or uniform.
“I want to make it clear to all principals that under my watch, no Kenyan child should miss admission,” Magoha said when he supervised Form One admission at Nyeri High School yesterday.
The CS said so far, the government’s assessment of various schools across the country showed that most of them were well-equipped, hence the ministry’s resolve that no child should be denied secondary education. “I want to warn principals that stern action will be taken if any Kenyan child is denied education. We have constructed 10,000 classrooms for CBC,” Magoha added.
But even as the CS issued the ultimatum, several principals complained about the high number of Form Ones allocated to their schools, stating that they lacked adequate facilities to accommodate all the new students.
Star of the Sea principal, Agress Tumbo, said she had received a list of about 400 learners during this year’s intake, against a capacity of 300. She protested that each of her classes could only accommodate 50 learners.
Situation was replicated at St Albert Ulanda Girls High School in Migori where the head teacher, Phinora Bunyengo, said she was expecting a total of 862 students this year.
She, however, expressed optimism that the school will be able to cope with the high number of Form One admissions despite the infrastructure challenges it faces.
Several other principals also lamented about the high number of students, saying the available facilities could not support them.
“I am being allocated 500 Form One learners yet we have facilities to accommodate only 300. Where do I take the rest? The ministry is insisting on 100 per cent transition but where are the beds, desks and classrooms to take that number. We need to be realistic,” said a head teacher of a girl’s school in Kakamega who sought anonymity.
Another head teacher of a school in Nyanza region, who also sought anonymity said he was already working on contingency plans to accommodate the extra students.
“We are planning to convert one of the laboratories into a dormitory to accommodate the extra students for the time being because life must go on,” he said. Speaking in Nyeri, Magoha urged MPs to provide full scholarship to students from needy backgrounds, saying their mode of disbursing bursaries is wanting.
“As head of the education sector, I want to say that I am disturbed by random bursary allocation by our MPs. Why would they give it on the basis of marks attained? This is wrong because they should do it on need basis as it will ensure only deserving case are considered,” Magoha said.
In the North Rift, stationery and school uniform shops yesterday made a kill, as parents rushed to shop for their children.
A majority of parents who spoke to People Daily complained of harsh economic times with most of them unable to cater for school fees and other basic necessities. At Shanir Wool Shop along Uganda road in Eldoret town, long queues were witnessed as parents rushed to beat the reporting deadline.
“Compared to other years, many parents complained of lack of money. Most of them are buying half of the materials they need promising to buy the rest later. We just have to understand them,” a manager at Shanir Wool Shop told People Daily.
Parents also complained of exorbitant fees and other charges by some schools and called on the ministry to crack the whip. A spot check by People Daily revealed that some schools were charging as much as Sh3,000 a term for extra levies.
At St Joseph’s Girls Chepterit in Nandi, for instance, parents were supposed to pay Sh3,000 annually for bread. Other levies include payment for Board of Management teachers and quality assurance and standards. Form Four parents are also required to part with an extra Sh5,000 for the construction of a laboratory.
“We feel we are being overcharged considering we are also struggling to pay school fees,” said a parent at the school who preferred anonymity. At Uasin Gishu High School in Eldoret, Form Ones were accompanied by their parents for registration and by 1pm, 235 students had reported.
Principal Mercy Juma said they were expecting 325 students in this year’s intake. “The 100 per cent transition is fully on course. Today is our day one for admissions and more than three-quarters have reported. Other students are still queuing to be admitted.”
The principal said that despite being a public school, some parents still have a hard time clearing the Sh10,000 lunch fee they are required to pay for the year.
Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Maalim Mohammed said security has been beefed up in the banditry prone counties in the region. At Matungulu Girls High School in Machakos, 350 students were admitted to Form One yesterday.
Principal Lucy Kariuki said the admission started as early as 6am and involved inspection of personal items and issuance of school uniform among other things. Principals of the various schools said they were under pressure to admit learners against their capacities.
Compiled by Seth Mwaniki Harrison Kivisu, Wycliff Kipsang, Gastone Valusi and Dennis Lumiti