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Schools open amid fresh demands, confusion and anxiety as Education PS remains mum on cash for free secondary education

EDUCATION
By Moses Nyamori | January 3rd 2018
Gladys Kamotho, a teacher at Nyamachaki Primary School, in class with Standard Eight pupils. [Kibata Kihu| Standard]

Schools started opening yesterday even as head teachers complained that they were yet to receive Sh29 billion for free day secondary education.

They warned that failure by the Government to release the cash could disrupt operations in schools.

And Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i yesterday met teachers’ unions leaders to discuss a wide range of reforms. 

Sources told The Standard the ministry agreed to establish panels of subject examiners in every county to take teachers through areas where students failed in last year’s KCSE exams.

Today, Dr Matiang’i will hold a consultative meeting with key players in the education sector to decide whether implementation of the new education curriculum will continue as planned or be postponed as demanded by unions.

The meetings come on the back of confusion over the new curriculum and fees payment.

The unions are also pushing for hiring of more teachers given the expected surge in enrolment in schools. They are also demanding the lowering of the minimum university entry grade to C citing the poor performance in last year’s KCSE exam.

Yesterday, Kenya Secondary School Heads Association Chairman Indimuli Kahi said schools were yet to receive money from the Government.

Mr Kahi said the situation was especially dire for day schools that were now wholly dependent on Government funds.

“The Government promised to disburse the money in December last year but that has not happened. No single school has received the funds. This means day schools will have no money to run,” he said.

“If they are telling you that they have disbursed the money then let’s assume it has been disbursed today, and that means schools will get it after two days,” Kahi added.

He noted that the money was necessary to buy learning materials including textbooks, laboratory equipment and teachers’ reference material.

He was responding to reports that yesterday's closed-door meeting with Matiang’i, officials of Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet) was informed that a total of Sh29 billion had been wired to all public schools across the country.

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang did not respond to our inquiries on the disbursement. At the same time, parents demanded the lifting of night travel ban to allow their children to report to schools for First Term.

And head teachers demanded faster delivery of textbooks to schools for Form Ones to enable smooth learning when they report next week.

In Murang’a for instance, only physics and kiswahili textbooks had delivered to schools.

“Although we have been (told) to wait for further deliveries, there was need for the Ministry of Education to make adequate planning in the printing and distribution of textbooks,” said one of the principals from Kandara sub-county.

Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion yesterday said implementation of the new curriculum should be delayed by a year or two to guarantee quality education.

“There must be proper consultation of all education stakeholders on this matter,” he added.

On last year's KCSE performance, the unions argued that transition from secondary to university should be above 50 per cent and not 10 per cent.

Kuppet Secretary General Akello Misori and Mr Sossion said the ministry and Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) owed Kenyans an explanation about the exam. Out of the 610,000 candidates who were tested, only 70,073 managed grade C+ and above.

Mr Misori challenged the ministry to provide a policy framework for the future of more than 500,000 students who performed dismally in the test.

He demanded the lowering of university entry point to C, arguing that failure to review the requirement would kill public universities.

“The CS has not given a single way forward for the students who failed in the national exams... I want to believe that the results were not a true reflection of the quality of students we have in the country,” said Misori.

The Standard learnt the ministry yesterday promised union officials Knec would take them through the examination process for proper understanding of the outcome.

“We want to know whether the exams were reliable in terms of the questions that were set for the learners. The experts will review the performance of Knec on what caused the poor performance,” Misori said.

Mr Misori and Kahi asked the Teachers Service Commission to hire more teachers to match the number of students to join Form One. Public schools have a total deficit of 94,000 teachers, with 38,000 being for secondary schools.

Additional reporting by Boniface Gikandi

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