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Ouko: New national schools lack resources

EDUCATION
By Lydia Nyawira | January 10th 2019
Auditor General Edward Ouko. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]

A report on the upgrading of 85 schools to national status paints a grim picture of the institutions' status.

Auditor-General Edward Ouko said a review of Form One admissions showed continued pressure on the original 18 national schools due to a strain on facilities in 22 of the sampled upgraded institutions.

Mr Ouko said that under the upgrading programme, the schools were expected to expand their infrastructure to cater for larger student numbers as well as improve educational standards.

However, he noted that the newly-upgraded schools continued to enrol more students without adequately improving and expanding their infrastructure.

“This has led to congestion and deterioration of the existing facilities. For instance, the classrooms are not adequately expanded as 16 out of the 22 schools, representing 73 per cent of the sampled schools, were holding more than the ideal 45 students,” Mr Ouko reported.

The requirements

He said that this was contrary to the requirements of the Basic Education Regulations 2015, adding that some schools had up to 76 students in one classroom.

“As a result of the huge number of student in the classrooms, there is reduced teacher-student interaction, which hampers delivery of effective quality education,” the report stated.

The capacity of dining halls was also overstretched in 18 out of the 22 schools. As a result of inadequate space, students in eight schools ate in shifts while in five other schools, the students took their meals outside in the hot sun or under trees.

The Auditor-General conducted interviews with the schools' managements that revealed the cramped dining halls negatively affected students’ morale.

With regard to boarding facilities, more than half of the 22 schools sampled did not have adequate dormitories for their population. Seven of the schools had students in excess of their capacity by between 29 per cent and 71 per cent.

“To cope with the situation, some of the schools had introduced triple-decker beds in the dormitories, contrary to the quality assurance standards that require beds to be either single or double-decker,” the audit revealed.

Ouko also noted that libraries were stretched in terms of capacity and resources. “Three of the schools did not have libraries or science laboratories. Either the library had been converted into a classroom, it was just a small book store or it was not there at all."

According to the audit, in other cases, either the libraries did not have adequate reference materials or did not have furniture.

Due to the strain on the libraries, the students were not motivated due to poor research opportunities. They also felt underprivileged compared to their counterparts in the original national schools that had better library facilities.

“The upgraded national schools were also expected to have sufficient and well-equipped science laboratories. However, none of the schools visited had an adequate number of laboratories for the streams in the school,” the auditor said.

Multiple shifts

Ouko further noted that the students had to sit for practical exams in multiple shifts. In some schools, Form One and Two students had to do their practical lessons in the classrooms.

Most of the laboratories were not in good working condition, others were dilapidated and in most cases they did not have appropriate utilities. However, the original national schools had sufficient and well-equipped laboratory facilities.

Ouko said the low student reporting rate was attributed to the public's perception that the new national schools had yet to meet the required standards befitting their status.

He noted that the upgraded schools were expected to enhance national integration by admitting students from all the 47 counties.

But he observed that an analysis of the schools' admission records showed that most of the institutions were admitting students from home counties.

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