Form One fiasco adds to ministry tattered record

Congratulations to the KCPE cohort of 2022!  Despite the distractions occasioned by COVID-related school closures, this cohort managed to take the national exam in preparation for secondary school.

It is a testament to their resilience that they did this in a compressed academic year. Within two months, the same cohort will be in secondary school working away for spots at universities and other tertiary institutions.

It is unfortunate that the exemplary actions of pupils and their teachers have not been matched by the Ministry of Education in its role of placing students in secondary schools.

The announcement of Form One placements on Monday was met with consternation from a large section of parents. Social media was awash with examples of well-performing students who were clearly mis-assigned to lower-than-expected schools.

Parents wondered loudly about the criteria used by the ministry in placing students and why the formula used was not made public. Some students who had clearly met the standards for admission to their chosen schools found themselves placed in schools that they had never heard of.

The Minister of Education might have a perfectly good explanation for these outcomes. There might yet be a sound policy behind the placement outcomes announced on Monday.

However, without proper communication and transparency, reasonable people would be forgiven for thinking that this was yet another example of the Government playing fast and loose with children’s lives.

So for the sake of transparency, it is only fair the Ministry publishes its school placement policy and the formula it uses to place students for all to see.

More broadly, this is a good opportunity as any to discuss a national policy of standardizing broad contours of the school experience for all students across the country.

Many parents’ angst was undoubtedly driven by the quality of teaching at facilities at certain schools.

What if, as a matter of policy, all the physical infrastructure in our schools had to meet a set minimum standard? What if we equally invested in teacher training across the board?

Ken Opalo

The writer is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University.