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Sunday, 12 May 2019

New curriculum to heal education wounds: private schools

competency-based curriculum
This week, Kenya Private Schools Association Chairperson (KPSA) Mutheu Kasanga responds to your questions.
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1. Most private schools are family-owned and run, and this poses a serious challenge to learning especially in case of family disputes relating to property distribution, more so land. What is KPSA doing to ensure minimal disruption of learning during such disputes? Dan Murugu, Nakuru
You are right that with schools, the effects of badly managed transitions can affect the students adversely. Not many schools have a succession planning policy at the ownership level.
The main reason for this is that our (Kenyan) cultures do not discuss or plan for death. This then leads to family wrangles when a school owner passes away.
The KPSA is fully aware of these hurdles and has partnered with The Association of Family Business Enterprises and other partners to encourage school owners to prepare for succession.
It is important to create guarantees that schools can be assured for generations. We do this through professional advice and seminars to school owners and boards on succession policies.
2. Madam, there is a general view that most private schools are examination results-oriented. This approach leads to learners being drilled so as to pass exams. This doesn’t help the learners who later become non-effective in subsequent learning levels. How would you respond to such views? Edward Wanjala Mangoli, Mukhweya, Kabuchai
Yes, this is the general perception especially for primary schools, both public and private.
While the motive assigned to such schools is usually monetary, it is the Kenyan way of ranking schools solely on academic performance that drives schools to push students towards high examinations marks as a sole outcome of education.
This has been pointed out as the major flaw of the KCPE examination where eight years of education are judged in three days of multiple choice testing.
The stakes for both students and parents are very high and a child’s life is decided on this one exam.
The KPSA has and continues to support the full implementation of the new curriculum as it presents us with a framework that resets our thinking around education outcomes, shifting to an education system that attempts to discover and nurture a child’s strength.
The uptake and implementation of the new curriculum in private schools is very impressive across the country.
In the private secondary school sector, the association has teamed up with others to come up with an initiative to rank private secondary schools in eight categories, rather than relying on just KCSE outcomes to rank schools.
3. We were excited to read that together with Minet and NHIF, KPSA had launched a medical insurance cover for children in private schools in Kenya. Please explain why parents should buy this cover for their children, what the cost would be and when we can enrol our children. Dr Njoki Fernandes, Nairobi
This month the NHIF Edu-Afya scheme will have been in place for a year in public secondary schools.
The payments for this scheme are deducted from each student’s capitation.
As an initiative to achieve universal health, this scheme has helped numerous students access healthcare.
When the KPSA approached the Ministry of Education with a proposal to open the Edu-Afya Scheme to all Kenyan students, support was given.
The inclusion of students in private schools into this scheme will go a long way in helping achieve Universal Health Coverage in Kenya.
The cover will be affordable to all parents no matter the level of private school and includes unlimited inpatient and outpatient coverage, wellness and preventive care, health and safety risk management as well as a life cover for the students.
We look forward to rolling out this cover through our partners Minet and NHIF.
4. Early this week, Teachers Service Commission (TSC)Chief Executive officer Nancy Macharia gave orders for a crackdown on unregistered or deregistered teachers teaching in either public or private schools. She seems to point an accusing finger at some private institutions for flouting the TSC regulations. Are your members victims of this? How will you navigate the situation now that schools have just opened and your members may not have adequate time to engage new teachers? Komen Moris, Eldoret
Our members are fully aware of the law, and that all teachers must be registered with the TSC in order to seek employment in Kenya.
So far, we do not expect this to affect our member schools as compliance on this is quite high.
On the issue of deregistered teachers, we urge the TSC to use the court systems so that we can work together to block dangerous people from working in the sector. Such people should never be able to get a Certificate of Good Conduct as is the case now.
5. One of the nightmares of parents at the moment is the safety of their children while in school. Public schools have proved quite a challenge in this area, especially with frequent fires being witnessed. Does KPSA have standard measures to be observed across schools to help avert such disasters? What would some of the challenges in achieving such level of efficiency be? Komen Moris, Eldoret
While indiscipline and arson in our public secondary schools have been a major cause of concern for the past three decades, it is only in this age of social media that the average Kenyan has seen the inner workings of the schools.
Various task forces have been set up and many recommendations made over the years.
In the past seven years, we have seen state school infrastructure stretched by increased intakes. Kenyans have been shocked by how crowded the dormitories are.
The KPSA has consistently urged caution especially when admitting students who, because of disciplinary cases, seek to transfer to our member schools.
The KPSA also has encouraged schools to invest in a fully trained guidance and counselling specialist to work in the school (not just a teacher).
There are many factors that affect the youth in modern times and early detection of issues, including mental health issues, goes a long way to ensure that KPSA secondary schools remain safe havens for the students.
The KPSA has also encouraged schools to invest in technology to help manage the schools effectively. For instance, CCTV cameras and biometric systems to manage roll calls for day schools.
6. Not long ago, KPSA was crying foul after being sidelined in implementing the new system of education. Are you satisfied with the way the rollout, including the training, has been handled? Kamau Wachira, Murang’a
It is sad that some Ministry of Education officials feel that they are not obligated to deliver the new curriculum to Kenyan children in other schools, yet the ministry itself acknowledges the fact that it does not have the capacity to educate each and every child in its schools.
Last year, KPSA took the initiative to work directly with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to ensure that teachers in private schools were trained and that school owners understood the new curriculum.
This year, teacher training for Grade Four was conducted and private schools were included.
We expect that the inclusivity will continue despite disruption of training in some areas by the Kenya National Union of Teachers.
7. My nephew was a candidate in one of the top performing schools. But he confided in me that the entry I saw in the media was not the actual one as poor performing students were registered in other centres to hoodwink parents. Isn’t this fraud and ploy to convince parents that your schools are top performers whereas you register the top cream in your schools and the weak ones in other centres? What are you doing about these cheats in your membership? Robert Kinyua
Ethics in education is an area we as Kenyans all need to keep working on. The KPSA is in support of all initiatives to clean up the education system.
To help with the management of examinations, KPSA has supported the implementation of the National Education Management Information System (Nemis). This system will track students right from Grade One to Form Four.
Once fully implemented, Nemis will be the only number in use for all educational functions including examinations.
This will go a long way in curbing the exclusion of weaker students from schools for purposes of examination ranking.
8. What control measures does KPSA have in place to protect parents and guardians from exploitation by private schools in the name of academic trips, holiday tuition books and the likes, which are not included in the fee structures? Okulo Andrew Guya, Nairobi
The cost of education in private schools is varied and depends on each school.
However, KPSA encourages parents to use Parents Teachers Association frameworks to discuss trips. The value of educational trips cannot be ignored, but parents need to be involved.
9. Are you aware that during the training on Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), some training centres were charging teachers from private schools? Okulo Andrew Guya, Nairobi
We are aware that the Ministry of Education is not able to fund the transport and meals for teachers in private schools attending the CBC trainings.
The KPSA member schools have committed to ensuring that their teachers are facilitated to attend these trainings for the next phase of the CBC rollout.
What we object to are charges for training itself, and we have discussed this issue with the Ministry of Education.
10. Madam, why are some private schools still having untrained teachers or teachers who have been removed from service for indiscipline? Oliver Jumba Hyuga, Kakamega
As mentioned earlier, for many graduates, private schools provide the only employment opportunities.
The KPSA urges all new teachers to register with the TSC as the law requires.
As for teachers who have been fired by the TSC, provided they are not deregistered, they can get employed in the private sector, just the same way that teachers who have been fired by private schools can and do get employed by the TSC.
All employers have disciplinary policies, and teachers can get dismissed for various reasons. For private schools, the Association urges schools not to employ deregistered teachers.
11. With the liberalisation of the education sector, one of the striking observations has been the growth of private schools. However, that growth has not been all good as some schools have cropped up in locations that makes one wonder how they manage to teach. There are schools along busy streets in Nairobi’s Central Business District, near pubs, in congested residential areas and practically every imaginable place. Is there anything KPSA can do regarding the location of schools so that learners have a conducive environment? Peter W. Shifwoka, Nairobi
The KPSA works with the Ministry of Education to deliver quality education to Kenyan children.
The Ministry of Education’s Quality Assurance and Standards Directorate is charged with ensuring that all schools meet the criteria as outlined in the Basic Education Act 2012.
That said, land prices in our urban areas are exorbitant and not all school owners can afford.
The ministry has standards for schools in such areas, and the association urges school owners in such areas to liaise with their local Sub-County Education Office for compliance.
12. The Ministry of Education has announced that it will begin a clampdown of private schools that have not met quality standards by mid-June. What is your take on this? How will you shield your members from falling into the category of schools targeted in the clampdown? Brigid Wangui, Nakuru
So far, KPSA does not have any members being targeted, and we urge any schools that may have any registration issues to get in touch with our county offices for assistance.
The KPSA regional offices are able to work with schools that have met hurdles in registering schools despite having met all criteria.

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