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Blow as KNEC rules out transfer of candidates

Readers Lounge - By Augustine Oduor | October 15th 2020 at 08:45:00 GMT +0300
Form four students of Lake Baringo secondary during a lesson (Kipsang Joseph/Standard)

The Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) has ruled out change of examination centres for the 1.9 million KCPE and KCSE candidates.

This as it emerged that many parents were transferring their children from boarding and private institutions to low-cost schools with manageable fees.

Some parents have also transferred their children from schools they deem as congested to institutions with fewer learners to beat the social distancing challenge in containing spread of Covid-19.

Knec said the registration process of candidates was complete, data validated and candidates would have to sit the examination in their registered centres to avoid confusion.

The reopening of public and private schools schedule says the 2020 KCPE candidates will sit exams starting March 22, next year.

The three-day examinations will end on March 24, just a day to start of the KCSE exams that will last three weeks and three days. Marking of the two national exams will be spread between April 19 and May 7.

Some 1.2 million candidates were registered to sit KCPE with another 751,150 listed to sit KCSE.

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Knec said opening another registration window may disrupt the examination preparation process, as the tests will be administered early next year.

However, candidates who wish to transfer from one school to another may feel free to do so on condition that they will sit examinations in the centres they were registered.

Parents who spoke to The Standard yesterday said some candidates may be moved to different counties as they seek alternative learning centres affordable to them.

“I live in Nairobi but my child studies in Kisii. I want to enroll her in a cheaper day school because I can no longer afford the high fees,” said a parent in Nairobi.

The parent said having lost her job during the Covid-19 pandemic, she can no longer take all her three children to boarding schools.

“I decided to transfer all of them to day schools,” she said.

National Association of Parents chairman Nicholas Maiyo said yesterday many parents have decided to move their children from private schools citing high fees.

Transfers normal

“We have had a meeting with private schools and agreed that all children are the same and they are free to move as long as they will be allowed to sit examinations in those centres,” said Maiyo.

Mutheu Kasanga, Private Schools Association chairperson, said transfers are normal but noted that Knec must ensure all candidates sit examinations.

“Knec has a mechanism of moderating and validating the examination centres as they have always done,” said Kasanga.

Maiyo asked Knec to ensure all children will be allowed to sit examinations when the tests start.

He said some parents, unable to pay boarding fees, have opted to transfer their children to day schools.

The government pays tuition fees for all children in day secondary schools, with parents only paying lunch fees. Meal costs in day schools range between Sh5,000 to about Sh15,000.

For boarding schools, the government pays Sh22,244 per child per year in all secondary schools. Boarding fees, paid by parents, range between Sh40,000 and Sh53,000.

Some schools, however, charge more even as the Ministry of Education struggles to enforce the fees guidelines.

For instance, at Upper Hill, a public school, parents have been asked to clear fees.

“Pay full Term 2 school fee of Sh27,290. Any outstanding balance must be cleared,” reads a note to parents.

The note further says Form Four candidates must report with five plain blue reusable masks, labelled with one’s name and admission number.

Candidates must also have adequate personal effects to last 11 weeks. And in addition to this, they must carry a spoon, blue cup and plate and a small bag to carry the items.

“They should also carry a blue bucket,” reads the note by Masaku Muiya, the school principal.

At St Hannah’s Preparatory School, parents said second term fees has been increased from Sh51,000 to Sh95,000.

“Fees should be paid in full on or before the commencement of the term. Please refer to the school fees policy for more details,” reads the note to parents dated October 10.

Maiyo yesterday urged school heads not to send away students over fees, but negotiate with them, in respect to Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha’s directive.

“We know some schools are jittery and plan to send away children. But we plead that these are not normal times and they should bear with parents at least for now as they look for money to pay,” said Maiyo.

Secondary school heads association national chairman Kahi Indimuli asked the ministry to issue clear fees guidelines.

“We foresee a problem. Magoha asked principals to be considerate but what happens in cases where parents don’t bring anything at all? It is a delicate balance for the sake of the child,” said Indimuli.

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