All primary and secondary school students could soon have common uniforms should a proposal by the Kenya Parents Association (KPA) is adopted.
The KPA wants all students to wear similar colours, arguing that this would enhance student’s safety and cushion parents from exploitation.
Basic Education Principal Secretar Belio Kipsang said the ministry was working on a policy to accommodate the parents’ proposal.
“The suggestion came mainly from parents who have been complaining of exorbitant costs of buying school uniform from specific shops that have continued to monopolise the business. Their call is to come up with a uniform that can be bought from any shop,” said Dr Kipsang.
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Kipsang spoke on Saturday at Rivatex Mills in Eldoret while attending a ceremony to mark implementation of a modernisation plan by the textile firm that is owned by Moi University.
The PS was optimistic that the policy would ensure safety of children, adding that a common attire would protect the learners from predators.
“We want to protect our children from predators so that when we see them in town being lured to places that are not good, we can be able to know that they are our students and act decisively,” said Kipsang.
He said the ministry was working closely with parents, head teachers and all education stakeholders on the policy.
The recommendations came up after a one-week workshop hosted by the parents’ association in Machakos County last week.
“As parents, we are concerned with the safety of our children. This is one of the reasons that prompted us to seek a common uniform,” said the association’s chairman Nicholas Maiyo.
The association suggested a grey uniform for primary schools and a blue one for secondary schools.
The official said the one-uniform policy would dismantle cartels that worked closely with some head teachers to fleece parents through single-sourced uniforms.
Similarly, the new proposal specifies how the students should wear their uniforms.
“As per the recommendations, all girls’ uniforms will reach below the knee, “ said Maiyo.
The association is upbeat that the proposal will sail through and that students will start wearing a common uniform by January 2019.
The proposal has received mixed reactions from parents and teachers.
Julius Korir, the national vice-chairman of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) dismissed the proposal as unpopular and colonial.
“I urge Dr Belio not to rush to unpopular policies. I propose the banning of school uniforms because they are colonial,” said Mr Korir.
Chepkoilel Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) branch executive secretary Sammy Bor described the proposal as ill-advised.
“Uniform is for identity and every school has its own aim and objectives and motto. We have not been told what is wrong with the current school uniforms that necessitate change,” said.
But the proposal received some support from some quarters.
Elgeyo Marakwet Kuppet executive secretary, John Chesergon Kuppet said the proposal was welcome if it would curb manipulation of costs by uniform sellers.
“I have no problem if it is tied with reduction of uniform prices in the market, but the ministry should understand that the proposal might not achieve all desired policy results,” he said.