1.4m learners to join Form One to be last 8-4-4 system cohort

Ministry of Education Directorate of Filed Surveyors and co-curricular Activities and school heads during the launch of Form One extra-county selection at Nakuru Boys High School. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The scramble for Form One places will commence today as the government prepares to admit a record 1.4 million learners who sat the 2023 KCPE examination.

This admission is unique, representing not only the largest number of students  joining secondary school but also the last cohort to enter secondary education under the 8-4-4 system.

The intake is expected to push the number of students in secondary school to about 3.8 million learners.

As is customary, parents whose children are joining Form One will bear the brunt of the high cost of living, facing increased prices for requisite items and learning materials.

Additionally, school fees will pose a significant challenge and dilemma for parents, who are seeking government intervention to cushion them from the harsh economic realities.

Silas Obuhatsa, National Parents Association chairman, is calling for flexibility in fee payment when learning resumes in January. He also wants the government to compel school heads to adhere strictly to school fees guidelines.

"We have cases where schools admit students and provide them with a fee structure, only to call them back after admission to increase the fee amount;  such cases should be taken seriously," Obuhatsa said.

He said some schools demand Form One entrants to pay the full fees before receiving admission, which he believes will exclude a significant number of students from joining secondary school.

"Parents are set to spend huge amounts of money on the purchase of necessities for admission, and we should find a way to distribute the fees throughout the term," said Obuhatsa.

Indimuli Kahi, the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association chairman, said they will await the government directive that will guide admission once the selection exercise is complete.

For schools, Kahi says the headteachers will also be grappling with the high cost of commodities and utility bills.

He said the biggest headache is the delays in fee payment and the release of government capitation funds. Kahi says this has impaired the smooth running of operations in schools.