Education crisis: Knut, MPs clash with Amina over transfers

Students assess the damage after a fire gutted a dormitory at Kisii School. Eight students have been arrested in connection with the incident. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]
The wave of unrest that has rocked schools has been blamed on the transfer of head teachers.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) warned that if the delocalisation policy adopted by the Ministry of Education was not reconsidered, the problem would persist and would hurt the education sector.

Speaking at a press briefing in Parliament yesterday, Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion said the policy was ill-conceived and had led to the destabilisation of school management.

“From a professional point of view, the sudden change of management destabilises all schools. The issue is the key cause of strikes that have seen a number of schools go up in flames. If not reconsidered, then the policy could destroy education across the board in this country,” Mr Sossion said.

Earlier, members of the Senate Education Committee led by their chairman, Christopher Langat (Bomet, had expressed similar sentiments, noting that students and even teachers should be prepared before the ministry effects any changes.

Stem chaos

The committee chairperson, in a separate press briefing, said suspending the delocalisation programme being conducted by TSC was the only way to stem the recent chaos in the education sector.

“Order will be restored if the mass and impromptu transfers of head teachers and principals is stopped. The programme must be stopped, especially now, since students are preparing for exams,” said Dr Langat.

He was accompanied by committee members Sam Ongeri (Kisii), John Kinyua (Laikipia) and Rose Nyamunga (nominated) and Mary Seneta (nominated).

Prof Ongeri, a former Education minister, said the country needed to have a national discourse over the matter to find a lasting solution.

“This problem of unrest in schools has been part and parcel of the national fabric for quite a long time. It is impunity at different levels and we need to sit down as a nation and diagnose it so that we get a proper remedy,” he said.

But the Ministry of Education vowed not to relent on new policies, among them delocalisation of school heads.

Embrace changes

Speaking yesterday at St Mary’s Girls in Mumias, Kakamega County, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed exonerated her ministry from any wrongdoing and called on all stakeholders to embrace the changes.

“We won’t divert from enforcing our changes in policies because of the unrest we are experiencing in the country,” said Ms Amina.

The ministry would initiate more policies to curb the unrest and indiscipline reported in schools, added the CS.

“In the whole world, it is only in Kenya where students burn down their schools but as a ministry, we will have these cases brought to an end,” Amina said.

The Government, she warned, would not pay any costs of rehabilitating the burnt structures, adding that it would be the burden of parents.

Sossion, a nominated MP, asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare the unrest, which he said had reached worrying levels, a national disaster, noting that this was the only way to allow players in the industry to find a permanent and lasting solution to the problem.

Delocalisation policy ill-conceived as it has led to destabilisation of management of schools, says Sossion.
On rampage

By yesterday, students in 22 schools had gone on the rampage this month, with fires reported in a number of the institutions.

St Mary’s Girls Mumias was closed on Monday after one of the dormitories was set on fire. The school’s management said it was investigating the incident, which it said it was treating as a case of arson or electrical fault.

The CS also held a meeting with principals and other stakeholders from western Kenya at St Peter’s Boys’ Mumias, where she urged the school administrators to be on high alert.

She dismissed claims that abolishing of caning in schools was the reason learners had become more indisciplined.

“Punishment should not be about canning the student. Discipline can be instilled in our children in different ways,” said Amina.

The CS was accompanied by, among others, the Kenya National Examinations Council chairman, George Magoha.

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school unrestmohamed aminaschool fires