Education officials have unveiled strategies to promote transparency and curb fraud in Form One admissions.
The three-pronged approach includes the online transmission of admission letters, verifying admission figures for each school against declared capacity to discourage concealing slots, and compelling head teachers to report vacancies so they are filled up in consultation with the Education ministry.
The steps are aimed at curtailing the practice of robbing deserving students who do not have influential guardians of their secondary school slots.
Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed yesterday said the digitisation of the Form One selection process by sending admission letters online covers most schools.
“Consequently, all candidates selected to join national, extra-county and county schools will receive admission letters instantaneously at the touch of a button immediately after this launch,” Amina said yesterday during the launch of the Form One selection at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.
“This will be followed by sub-county schools placement on December 6 and 7,” she added.
Olive Wachira, the top performing girl in this year’s KCPE exams, was selected to join Kenya High while the top boy, Rawlings Odhiambo, was selected to Alliance High. They both scored 453 marks.
The top performing boy with special needs, Bildad Onon, who scored 447 marks, will also join Alliance High while the top girl with special needs, Sharlet Jerono, will join Alliance Girls.
By banning the direct admission of students to Form One slots in their respective schools, the ministry has scuttled an arrangement that head teachers exploited to influence student selection.
All placements will now be done with the Education ministry with cases of absentee students to be verified by ministry officials.
Under the new rule, school heads are expected to report online to the ministry all cases of students who fail to take up Form One slots in their schools.
The heads will declare the vacancies and also propose the names of students who have expressed interest to take up the available slots.
Previously, some principals reportedly sold vacant Form One slots to the highest bidder.
It also emerged that some heads under-declared capacities in their schools to allow more room for business when admission starts.
This year, no school will be allowed to admit more students than the slots declared as the ministry will ensure placements match the declared vacancies.
“This means that in the event a student fails to report to the school they have been placed, the parent will approach the head of the school they are interested in and which they can comfortably pay,” said Kahi Indimuli, the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association chairman.
Mr Indimuli said once the school accepts it has the slots to accommodate interested students, the head teacher writes to the ministry declaring the vacant slots and indicates the names and marks of the students who have expressed interest.
“The ministry will allocate the slot and the parent will print out the admission letter online on the ministry’s website,” said Indimuli.
Previously, parents hopped from one school to another as school heads hoarded slots, forcing parents to part with thousands of shillings to buy better places for their children.
Sources said the move to print admission letters on the ministry’s website and the new rule for heads to declare available slots would help to ensure fairness.
Amina had earlier said that this year’s selection process would take place only once. But parents decried the proposal saying school heads would be empowered to demand more money from them.
Kenya Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo said last week that heads would harass parents if they were allowed to directly place students in the event some slots were not taken up in their schools.
During yesterday’s exercise, 31,337 students were selected to join national schools. They included all the 12,222 candidates who scored 400 marks and above.
“This includes 19 special needs education candidates selected to regular national schools. Additionally, the top five candidates of either gender from every sub-county have been placed in national schools on the basis of the choices they made during registration for KCPE, where possible,” said Amina.
Teachers Service Commission Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia said the rise in enrollment, coupled with exits through natural attrition, had escalated teacher shortage.
“Currently, we have a shortage of 87,737 teachers, the majority of which (57,380) is in secondary schools. This number is exclusive of the shortage occasioned by the 100 per cent transition,” said Ms Macharia.
She said that under a proposal to recruit 12,626 teachers annually for four years starting this year at a cost of Sh8.3 billion, the TSC had only received funds for 8,700 teachers.