Nightmare: No space, no money for extra Form One admissions

All the students must transit to Form One but school infrastructure is bursting at the seams. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Parents are staring at a tough time next year during Form One admission of the 1.4 million KCPE candidates.

Being the last cohort of the 8-4-4 education system, all the students must transit to Form One.

But The Standard has established that no additional classrooms have been constructed to accommodate the huge number of candidates expected to transit to secondary schools.

It is also emerging that the secondary schools are nursing a Sh22 billion funding deficit, further raising questions about the readiness of the institutions to operate smoothly come first term.

Already, high school managers have had face-offs with the government over unpredictable and inaccurate free education capitation flow to the institutions and even proposed fee increments to plug their deficits.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu Wednesday revealed that for the last five years, the money given to schools has been declining.

‘‘The funds provided to the Ministry of Education have fallen short of the approved rate leading to underfunding of schools. The ministry is compelled to divide the available amount to the learners which has been increasing every year,’’ Machogu said.

Machogu spoke when he appeared before the National Assembly Education Committee led by Julius Melly (MP, Tinderet).

Public schools

Machogu noted that the public secondary schools in the country presently have a population of 3,956,547 learners, which could not be satisfied by Sh65 billion allocated.

“The Sh65 billion translates to Sh16,428 per learner meaning the money given to us does not equal the Sh22,240 per learner. This means there is a funding gap below the approved figure,’’ Machogu said.

Machogu added: “Next year we project that the enrolment will be higher at 4.2 million learners, if funding remains as it is, therefore, the capitation will reduce further to Sh15,476 per learner.’

Machogu said that the funding gap must be addressed urgently, even as he revealed that some 350,000 students have been receiving state funding through Nemis. 

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said next year schools will open with a deficit of 32 per cent in funding.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu. [File, Standard]

‘‘There has been underfunding in certain areas. What that means is that we are starting a year at 68 per cent of funding,’’ Dr Kipsang told MPs.

And with the revelations, parents are worried over the huge candidature expected to transit to Form One next year.

National Parents Association chairperson Silas Obuhatsa raised concerns about a possible overrun of the secondary school infrastructure with the anticipated huge admission.

Obuhatsa said that the schools were already overstretched after a high number of students were taken in this year.

“It is increasingly becoming hard for schools to handle the huge number of students coming in and this threatens the quality of education our children are getting,” Obuhatsa said.

 Space deficit

Last year, when 1.2 million candidates sat the KCPE examinations, Machogu announced a space deficit of about 90,000 in 14 counties.

Nairobi County was leading with a gap of 45,087 followed by Kilifi with 10,212 and Mombasa’s 9,559.

And this year, with additional candidatures of more than 200,000, sources in government hinted at a looming crisis if early plans to expand classrooms are not made.

Machogu, however, said available capacities will be adequate for the candidates under the 100 per cent transition. “We have enough space for all the students. It is true we had deficits for the last year class in various counties but we shall balance them out.”

He added: “Nairobi will share spaces with neighbouring counties of Kajiado, Kiambu, Machakos and Muranga as we seek to construct more classrooms.”

Parents are, however, worried that their children may not to get dream schools.

Candidates are placed into secondary schools based on their performance, school choices, and affirmative action.

At school, candidates are given chance to select four national, three Extra-County and two County and Sub-County schools.

Over the years, only candidates who score 400 marks and above are guaranteed slots in national schools.

Education PS Belio Kipsang. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The quota system, which picks top performers per county is also used. In some cases, top two boys and top two girls are picked, depending on the quota. According to the data released last year, Machogu said 38,972 students were placed in national schools.

School audit

Extra County schools received 228,160 students while County schools admitted 199,027 students. Sub County schools got about 762,610 students while the Special Needs Education (SNE) schools admitted 1,819 students.

Parents now want the government to conduct an audit of the school infrastructure and address the missing gaps before the admission exercise set for January next year.

“We need a holistic kind of assessment on the labs, classes, dorms, furniture and even teachers to be able to identify what we have and how much more is needed,” Obuhatsa said.

Parents who spoke to The Standard said that Form One selection issues should be fixed early as this was the last 8-4-4 group.

“The majority of parents are worried that their children may not get slots in schools they selected because of inadequate capacities in the institutions,” said a parent.

The parent said children get demotivated when they do not secure spaces in schools of their choices.

“If a child selects a national school and they do not get that instead they are sent to an institution that perhaps was not in their list it gets so demoralising,” the parent said.

Parents also claimed that many students miss out on their dream schools because the institutions do not have capacity.

Machogu said: “Selection process is strictly guided by the principles of merit, choice, equity and availability of space in placing candidates.”