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January headache for parents and teachers as reality bites

By Augustine Oduor | December 27th 2019

Form One students' belongings are lined up for inspection during the admission at Lwak Girls High School in Rarieda, Siaya County on January 09, 2017. [Photo: Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Parents are struggling with the hunt for Form One admissions for their children as anxiety grows over a proposal to increase tuition fees.

Meanwhile, teachers have to grapple with looming mass transfers as schools reopen next month.

With Christmas festivities drawing to a close, parents and teachers are now being forced to confront the challenges plaguing admission of Form Ones, and the roll-out of the Grade Four competency-based curriculum (CBC) in primary schools.

Protests have emerged over the just-concluded Form One selection, with some parents complaining that they did not get the schools they wanted for their children.

Ministry scholarships

Some of the parents who spoke to The Standard yesterday said they were yet to settle on schools allocated to them, and were facing the headache of a physical hunt for better institutions in the days ahead.

And for those who were allocated the schools they wanted, high fees seemed to be an overriding worry, even as Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha directed schools to ensure strict adherence to tuition guidelines.

“We have been allocated a good school but we may not afford it, so we may have to give up the slot and get a cheaper school,” said a parent in Kakamega County.

Some parents were pegging their hopes on the ministry’s 9,000 scholarships, but Prof Magoha said the scheme targets extreme poverty cases in 110 sub-counties, and informal settlements in 15 urban areas.

Secondary school principals have already asked the ministry to raise fees per student by between Sh6,257 and Sh17,773 to bridge huge budget deficits in their institutions.

The school heads said more than 8,000 secondary schools are facing challenges of acute underfunding, which has informed the push for higher fees.

If the request is approved, fees in extra-county schools will go up by Sh17,773, pushing the annual cost to Sh80,452 up from the current Sh62,679.

It also means that parents with children in national schools will have to fork out an additional Sh15,848 per child, increasing the annual tuition fees to Sh91,646.

The current annual fee in the 103 national schools was pegged at Sh75,798.

The government sends Sh22,244 annually per child in boarding or day schools to cater for tuition costs, medical cover, activity fees and maintenance and improvement.

Under the new proposals, parents with children in county schools would pay Sh7,537 more, taking the fees to Sh70,216 up from the current Sh62,679.

Parents with children in day schools (sub-county schools) will also be hit because in addition to lunch money, they would be required to pay an additional Sh6,257 per year.

Fees guidelines

Speaking when releasing the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam results, Magoha said school fees guidelines must be followed.

He, however, added that schools are free to engage well-wishers who are wiling and capable of chipping in additional monies to fund various projects.

Teachers who spoke yesterday also expressed fears about the ongoing mass transfers, with some saying they have been separated from their families.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is moving more than 2,000 teachers and heads of institutions to new stations under its normal transfer programme that is effected every end of the year. 

Further, implementation of the new curriculum is gathering pace, with the roll-out set to be extended to Grade Four as authorities work to ensure effective transition from 8-4-4 to the 2-6-3-3-3 school system.

President Uhuru Kenyatta announced there would be no national examinations at the end of primary education under the new curriculum. A task force set up by Magoha to advise on the finer details of the transition is set to release its report soon.

Uhuru directed that the roll-out of the Grade Four CRB starts in January next year.

Magoha said the ministry has supplied the requisite Grade Four textbooks in 97 per cent of the counties.

He said the remaining counties would be reached before schools open for the first term in January.

On teachers’ training, Magoha said a critical mass to implement the curriculum has been reoriented.

TSC Chief Executive Nancy Macharia said a massive training exercise for 106,320 tutors ended, bringing the total number of teachers trained on CBC to 228,000.

Unending tension

However, with the unending tension between the Kenya National Union of Teachers and TSC, the Education ministry will have to rally all teachers around implementation of the CBC.

The ministry will also need to get Kenyans to adopt the new proposals that will be released by the Education curriculum task force.

In three years, the first CBC cohort will transit from primary to junior secondary school in 2023.

Magoha said the task force he set up to advise on curriculum reforms is in the process of finalising regulations and guidelines on the establishment of institutions under the Basic Education Framework.

The proposed regulations and guidelines from the team will be subjected to public participation before gazettement.

Getting the one million pupils who sat this year’s KCPE exams to join secondary schools under the 100 per cent transition policy is also lined up among the looming challenges, with fears some girls may have already been married off.

Magoha said a campaign to enrol all candidates who sat KCPE this year into Form One would start in January.

Last year, about 150,000 students could not be traced under the Last Mile Form One Admission Campaign towards 100 Per cent Transition.

In Mombasa, Lamu, Kwale, Samburu, Isiolo and Tana River counties, admissions were below 70 per cent.

The ministry is facing an uphill task on transition that will require concerted efforts from regional administrations, parents and teachers.

Magoha already asked all primary school headteachers to develop an inventory of the schools to which their 2019 candidates were placed, and liaise with all relevant agencies and institutions to ensure they are enrolled in Form One.

And in high schools, creating additional spaces to accommodate the huge number of candidates will be a daunting task.

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