Scramble for 17,000 slots in 103 national schools

Gabriel Miseda Ogweno of Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Kitengela, celebrates with teachers and relatives.

The Education ministry faces a challenge in this year’s Form One selection, as the scramble for over 17,000 slots in national schools starts on December 3.

Data from the ministry showed the available spaces in 103 national schools stood at 29,712.

The revised Form One selection criterion requires that all candidates with 400 marks and above be admitted to national schools.

This year some 12,273 candidates scored 401 marks and above and are guaranteed slots in the coveted schools.

This means the remaining 17,439 slots in national schools will be up for grabs by the 228,414 candidates who scored between 301 and 400 marks.

Private schools raised the red flag and said their candidates would demand an equal share of the remaining slots based on merit and regional balance.

The Standard established that the criteria to be used this year would have to do with sharing the remaining slots based on candidature strength across sub-counties.

This means the more the candidates a sub-county has the more slots in national schools it will be allocated.

It also emerged that top performing candidates in each sub-county would be prioritised.

Sub-counties that produced many candidates with 400 marks and above may have some of their candidates who have scored relatively higher marks missing out on national schools.

This means that sub-counties whose top candidates scored relatively lower marks will be given slots to national schools, because each region will get a share of the coveted schools.

Admission letters

“We foresee a situation where a candidate with 380 marks may miss out on national schools while another with 250 gets a slot based on the above criteria,” said Kenya Private School Association Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndoro.

By yesterday, the ministry had not clarified whether the criterion used last year would apply this year, given the improved performance.

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed said all one million candidates would be admitted to Form One. She said they would all have their admission letters before Christmas. “The ministry’s relevant departments have put in place all mechanisms to ensure the selection exercise is completed as fast as possible,” she said.

“I want to clearly state that there will be only one selection process. There will be no second selection,” she added.

Parents who spoke to The Standard yesterday said a second selection should be allowed to give candidates who may have missed out on their dream schools a second chance.

“One selection process will give headteachers more powers to frustrate parents and demand bribes to declare available slots in cases where students fail to show up,” said a parent in Nairobi.

Kenya National Parents Association Chairman Nicholas Maiyo said there would be cases where parents may not afford certain fees to schools where their children are admitted.

“It will be difficult for principals to fairly give out that slot to a deserving child because it may be a case of highest bidder. Principals will have more powers,” he said.

Mr Maiyo said a second selection where schools declare those who have reported and spaces not taken up would allow the ministry to undertake fair allocation of the remaining slots.

Overall, admission to the remaining categories of schools; extra-county, county and sub-county schools will also be based on candidature strength and a distribution ratio.

Selection of candidates to extra-county schools will be based on a 20:40:40 ratio, to be shared across the host sub-county, the host county and other counties in that order.

The available places in county schools will be shared out between the sub-counties on a 20:80 ratio, spread across the host sub-county and the rest of the sub-counties in that order.

All the candidates for sub-county schools shall be selected from the host sub-county based on merit and choice.

These criteria will apply regardless of whether the candidates sat KCPE in a private or public school.

Ministry data shows that there are 123,400 slots in the 531 extra county schools and 142,358 in 1,031 county schools.

According to the data, more candidates will be admitted to day schools, also known as sub-county schools, with 685,590 slots available in all the 7,325 institutions. Learners with special needs will be admitted to 32 special schools, which have 1,453 vacancies.

Data also shows that 1,800 private schools will make available 87,000 slots to accommodate more students.

Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said the Government would make available necessary books and free education money.

Parents will continue to buy school uniforms and lunch, foot boarding-related costs as reflected in the approved fee structure, and also clear fee balances.

The PS said the Government would continue to send Sh22,244 per child per year to cater for education.

Better facilities

Dr Kipsang said the cost of boarding schools would be capped at Sh75,798. Parents will pay a maximum Sh53,554 with the State covering the balance.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association Chairman Kahi Indimuli yesterday said they were ready to receive candidates, but asked for better facilities in schools.

“With the big numbers we request for an expansion plan and additional teachers to fully implement the 100 per cent transition,” said Mr Indimuli.

The ministry, through a circular dated October 25, said it would send Sh6,000 per student per year to cater for a proper learning environment with adequate school infrastructure.