When the government did not have a secondary school

There is a raging debate about whether the government should offer financial subsidies to students studying in private universities.

A similar scenario is unfolding where some lawmakers feel taxpayers' money should not be used to pay examination fees for students in private secondary schools.

This topic brings to mind a time, during the infancy of this nation in 1965, when the government readily admitted it did not own a single secondary school.

“There are no government secondary schools in Bomet or anywhere else in the country. There is, however, a maintained secondary school in Bomet, Tenwek Secondary School founded by the World Gospel Mission and which is grant-aided by the ministry through the Provincial Education Office, Nakuru,” assistant minister for education Gideon Mutiso said.

This answer confounded Bomet MP A K arap Soi who demanded to know since the government had no school, who owned Kabianga.

“Could he (assistant minister) state what Kabianga is? Is it a mission school or a village school?" wondered Soi, to the amusement of other MPs who were equally in the dark.

Although there were no government schools, Mutiso explained, all institutions belonged to the country and were aided by the State.

When asked whether the government would construct a secondary school instead of just giving aid to an institution built by another body, Mutiso said this was irrelevant. However, he was forced to respond by Speaker Humphrey Slade who ruled that the matter was weighty.

The government policy then was that whenever members of the public or other stakeholders pooled resources and established schools, the government would provide finances and teachers.

Over the years, however, these harambee and church-sponsored secondary schools were taken over by the government, which further appropriated primary schools and took over the training and deployment of all teachers.

Previously, each church or mission employed its own teachers and there was no harmony on how much a teacher was paid until the Teachers Service Commission was created in 1967 through an Act of Parliament. It gave teachers one employer and uniform terms and conditions of service.

Long gone are the days when the government played a peripheral role in the running of secondary schools. Today, there are 10,413 secondary educational institutions out of which over 8,800 are privately owned.

The harambee secondary schools were eventually phased out, and private schools are concentrated in urban areas where the government has been unable to keep up with population increase and demand for education.

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