Stick to your core duty, school heads told

An attendant serves parents who were doing last minute stationery shopping for their children who are preparing to join form one. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Principals of secondary schools who force parents to buy uniforms from their institutions or preferred dealers will be tracked down and punished.

Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang said parents whose children will be joining Form One should be allowed to buy school uniforms from shops of their choice.

"We shall be working closely with our colleagues from the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to sanction anybody that will be abetting any illegality by charging fees which are not sanctioned by the government," Dr Kipsang said. 

This came as it emerged that some schools have separate accounts for uniforms and forced parents to deposit money for uniforms that are provided in schools.

Kipsang said that the sale of merchandise should be left to business people and allow schools to perform their core duty.

‘‘I wish to urge our school managers that as our parents buy school uniforms, let's allow them to do so in a way that will give them a competitive advantage because they should buy uniforms in a competitive process,’’ he stated.

‘‘We discourage any school from participating in the selling of school uniforms. Let's leave uniforms to business people who sell uniforms,’’ Kipsang said.

Speaking during the commissioning of 3000 scholarships from the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation in Nairobi, the PS observed that many schools are capitalising on the sale of uniforms to fleece parents.

‘‘We urge those tasked with the duty of tackling the competency that is expected of our children in their level of learning to do their duty, all other things let’s leave it to competent people to do it,’’ he stated.

The PS said as Form Ones start to join schools starting Monday, the government has ensured that capitation is available in schools for the smooth running of institutions.

‘‘We have done our part to ensure our children go to schools in an environment that is conducive and ready for them to learn,’’ he said.

He warned school heads against diverting the funds to other uses.

‘‘The government will closely monitor to ensure the resources that come to schools will be optimised for our children and we urge the leadership of our schools that they use these resources in the most prudent way so that it benefits these young ones,’’ PS said.

The PS assured parents that the government had hired enough teachers to teach learners in Junior Secondary.

‘‘Every teacher is trained in all aspects, there may be small changes in the way that we deliver. We have been building capacity for teachers for the past six years. Most of the teachers who are going to handle these learners are those already domiciled in our primary schools,’’ he said.

The government has trained 300,000 teachers in readiness for the rollout of Junior Secondary Schools.

He noted that since most learners are in day schools, there was no need for introducing any new charges that have not been sanctioned by the government.

‘‘There will be consequences for any of our teachers who are asking for anything that is not sanctioned by the government,’’ he stated.

He said the Ministry of Education and other partners continue to give girl child education a priority with 55 per cent of its funding going towards the girl child capitation.

‘‘We are trying to address the regional disparities and we are targeting the vulnerable and marginalised areas and informal settlements in urban areas," he added.

The Sh1.1 billion scholarship will benefit 3,000 students joining different institutions across the country for the next four years. The money will finance the learner's tuition, shopping, transport, and other personal effects including pocket money.

‘‘We envisage you (JKF) becoming our national body that will manage and coordinate a more central role in issues of scholarships for our learners at our Basic Education institutions. Government is at an advanced stage in ensuring that this mandate becomes a reality,’’ he said.

Jane Waruhiu, the Chairperson of the Foundation said, since its inception 57 years ago, 12,000 students have benefited from the programme.

‘‘It proves our commitment to providing education to the most deprived and vulnerable members of our society. Also, special needs education schools have been catered for in the scholarship,’’ she said.

She observed that the effects of Covid-19 have affected its effort to expand the scholarship to reach many needy students.

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