Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i has directed boards of primary and secondary schools sharing a compound to be dissolved.
Anxiety has gripped school heads across the country following Matiang'i's decision that two schools sitting on the same parcel of land be placed under one head teacher while each unit would have a deputy head teacher.
Speaking during the launch of Form One selection Tuesday, Dr Matiang'i said the move will minimise the time the ministry spends on resolving conflicts over boundaries, use of facilities such as sports grounds and social amenities, among others.
The decision has already met opposition from both the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), who have termed the move as ill-timed.
Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion promised to issue a comprehensive response on the matter tomorrow.
There are more than 23,000 primary and 9,000 secondary schools and it is unclear the exact number that would be hit by the new move.
The decision means a number of head teachers would end up losing their positions while some would be demoted to position of deputy.
The directive also affects boards of management as there would be mergers and in some instances, majority members would be dropped.
Among the raft of changes announced yesterday by Matiangi, 19 national schools in Nairobi will admit day scholars on an experimental basis in a move aimed at decongesting boarding schools.
“Performance in a number of schools that have both primary and secondary schools in the same environment has often been beset with legitimacy squabbles and turf wars which tend to compromise teaching and learning programmes,” he noted.
“The ministry, in liaison with the Teachers Service Commission, will consolidate the management of such schools effective 2018 so that they will be under one board of management and one overall principal, with a deputy for primary and another for secondary school.”
He cited Moi Forces Academy, Nairobi Primary, and St Georges in Nairobi County where both primary and secondary schools share compounds.
He said there were so many cases which constrained the learning environment and ordered the merger of boards in such schools with immediate effect .
“The move will occasion harmony and synergy in utilisation of resources and infrastructure facilities, some of which lie defunct because resources are duplicated, and institutions compartmentalised, creating non-functional facilities.”
He said the move may occasion certain changes where necessary.
“If there will be a need to amend the Act, we will request Parliament where Knut secretary General Sossion sits for amendments. But I don’t think we will require many changes,” said Matiang'i.
The move has sparked anxiety from head teachers of primary schools currently meeting in Mombasa where the minister was expected later yesterday.
Kuppet Secretary General Akelo Misori termed the move unworkable.
“That kind of arrangement where one head manages both the primary and the secondary school cannot work. In fact, such pronunciation is not well thought out,” said Misori who attended the Form One selection yesterday.
He said primary and secondary teachers do not undergo similar curriculum training and such a move would not achieve the desired effect.
“The mode of instruction in primary schools is different from that of secondary. How do you expect a teacher who has never handled students in adolescence to behave when confronted with such a situation?”
He instead called on the minister to improve the capacity at the ministry to resolve such conflict brought about by boundaries, facilities and other social amenities.
“The decision indicates lack of capacity by the Ministry of Education in solving conflicts on specific issues. Perhaps it’s an indictment that we lack capacity to handle such policy issues,” said the Kuppet boss.
“The issue is not teaching but rather conflicts brought about by circumstances other than teaching, which must be resolved. To say that such schools be merged implies a change of training module for such teachers."
The decision also implies a section of the current school heads would either be demoted or deployed in other institutions.
Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion called for more time to digest the effect of the minister’s move.
"I want to put the issues before my people first. We are definitely going to react this week," said Mr Sossion who was also in attendance.
“Some of the things the minister is saying will require discussions with players. In fact, he is yet to consult us over the matter."
"This is a major policy change that cannot be implemented on the basis of the minister's pronouncement," said Misori.
He cautioned that the decision would not resolve the conflicts but rather postpone them.
“It should be noted that there are more than 23,000 primary schools and more than 9,000 secondary schools. The decision to merge some of them will not resolve the conflicts.”
He at the same time cautioned against rushing the new curriculum saying not many teachers were trained in it.
Knut secretary general Sossion called for more time to digest the effect of the minister’s move.
"I want to put the issues before my people first. We are definitely going to react this week," said Sossion who was also in attendance.
“Some of the things the minister is saying will require discussions with stakeholders. In fact, he is yet to consult us over the matter."