Heed wise counsel from school principals

This week, secondary school principals have been meeting in Mombasa County at the luxurious Wild Waters Hotel for the 40th annual conference of head teachers.

It is the largest gathering of teachers heading most of our secondary schools, and the deliberations are of utmost importance in the management of education. Hence, the proposals therein are critical in improving quality of education and the deliverables after our young ones go through the education system.

The tutors have made a raft of proposals to overhaul the education system, especially the curriculum, to keep pace with emerging trends and the needs of the job market.

Majority of participants felt that a major review is needed to step up the quality of education. The first curriculum reform was done in 1984 and the latest in 2014. Indeed, there are ongoing reforms in the education sector that should set the pace. Now, one of the major concerns raised was that too many learners are scoring highly in national examinations, only to perform dismally in the next level.

For instance, majority of those who attain high marks in the KCPE end up with highly disappointing grades in the KCSE examinations. Similarly, those who score high grades in KCSE have been found to struggle with university education.

It is also instructive to note what Director of Quality Assurance at Moi University, Laban Ayiro, said: Nowadays if a student revises ten past papers, he or she can be assured of scoring an A in KCSE.

Is that true? Is it also true that application and synthesis are lacking in examination questions, thus diluting the value of marks awarded? There have also been reports showing that a good number of primary school graduates can barely read or solve simple mathematical questions. This is a huge indictment of our education system. What can be done to bridge these gaps? The quality of instruction and testing should always be above aboard.

The Ministry of Education, the Kenya National Examinations Council, the teachers’ unions, parents and other stakeholders, must constantly keep these quality challenges in mind and seek solutions. Education by its very nature is dynamic and calls for visionary planning and execution of policies. It would be unfortunate and waste of resources to come up with good proposals but put them on a shelf to gather dust.

And in keeping with changing times, participants at the principals’ conference have raised concern on security within and outside the school compounds. Terrorism is a chilling reality in Kenya, especially after the slaughter of 148 people (142 of them students) at the Garissa University College in April.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett, Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi, all school boards and headmasters must urgently step up security measures. It should be made clear to all and sundry that the days when anybody could stroll into a school compound without being stopped and searched are gone. All schools should have security officers manning all entry points.

Obviously, this means schools must be fenced; but to do this effectively, they must know the boundaries of their land. This is where the Lands ministry and the National Land Commission come in.

They must conduct an urgent audit of all school land and facilitate adjudication. Cases of school land grabbing should be a thing of the past.

Finally, the Commission for University Education (CUE) has come up with a startling revelation that some eight university campuses face closure for breaching education rules. The campuses have been operating outside stipulated regulations and the commission has asked students to relocate to their main campuses.

CUE notes that some campuses are located near matatu termini and other commercial activities that are unfavourable for learning. But how were these campuses allowed to set up shop in those areas in the first place? Did someone sleep on the job or was somebody compromised to look the other way? Parents and students deserve better from the education managers.