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Sunday, 9 June 2019

Principals to meet CS Magoha over transition policy

SECONDARY SCHOOLS
OUMA WANZALA
By OUMA WANZALA
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DERRICK LUVEGA
By DERRICK LUVEGA 
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More than 9,000 principals of secondary schools across the country will converge on Mombasa starting Monday for a one-week conference on the 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school that is proving a nightmare for head teachers.
The conference, whose theme is “Quality education in the context of 100 per cent transition”, will give the principals an opportunity to put facts on the table in sessions expected to be attended by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, senior ministry officials, teachers union officials and the Teachers Service Commission chief executive Nancy Macharia.
LEARNING QUALITY
Principals have been up in arms for the last two years over the government's failure to provide funds for infrastructure to support the 100 per cent transition policy. It only provides Sh1.5 billion against the required Sh9 billion.
Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang has on more than one occasion admitted that the funds are not enough to support the institutions.
A report by Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) indicates that the policy has created congestion in classrooms, dormitories, halls, laboratories, school fields, and washrooms.
“This threatens to lower the quality of learning as the environment is not conducive. Makeshift houses have been converted into classrooms, staffrooms and dining halls. Sanitation facilities are inadequate and these among others have created a major health risk,” said Kessha chairman Kahi Indimuli, adding that in some secondary schools students are forced to take lessons under trees.
FEES
Mr Indimuli said triple-decker beds have also been introduced in dormitories to cater for the big number of students as a result of the policy, rendering them susceptible to injuries due to falls.
The principals have since asked the government to allow parents to pay for infrastructural development of schools by contributing a moderate fee as well as increase school fees paid by parents.
Principals also want the government to undertake targeted infrastructure audit to establish the infrastructural needs of each school and allocate commensurate funds accordingly.
TEACHER SHORTAGE
On teachers, the institutions have been forced to hire their own 80,000 teachers after the government failed to provide enough teachers to support the policy.
Mrs Macharia admits that teachers in secondary schools are overworked and the situation is expected to get worse, as the government has only allocated Sh2 billion in the next financial year starting July for recruitment of 4,000 teachers against a demand of 12,600 teachers.
The TSC has asked for Sh82 billion to recruit teachers in the next five years; it was to enable it address biting teacher shortage in schools, currently estimated at about 100,000.
The figure is likely to rise to about 120,000 by 2023 unless the number and pace of recruitment is increased.
Staff shortage worsened this year following enforcement of the policy.
NEMIS
The issue of capitation will once again emerge, with principals demanding prompt release of the funds and suspension of National Education Management Information System (Nemis) that has been a thorn in the flesh of principals.
Principals have rejected Nemis, saying it is locking out genuine students from funding and want the ministry to conduct manual audit of students as they sort out the issue of birth certificates, which has been the main cause of the problem.
The government pays Sh22,244 annually for every secondary school student and Sh1,420 for each pupil in primary school, and Dr Kipsang admits that the funds need to be increased.
The controversial issue of the new competency-based curriculum will also take centre stage.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) - which supports the new system through its Secretary-General Akelo Misori - will make a presentation on “Teachers union perspective on CBC”, while Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion will highlight on “The role of teachers in education reforms”.

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