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Economy

Rules on Harambee schools put 2.6m children at risk

At least 2.6 million pupils are at risk of missing school if new draft rules by the Ministry of Education seeking to regulate informal schools are passed into law, key stakeholders have said.

The new regulations require teachers in informal learning institutions, commonly called the Harambee schools, to acquire Teachers Service Commission (TSC) certification immediately.

The rules also seek to limit the registration of informal schools to only those within seven municipalities; namely Nairobi, Thika, Kisumu, Kitale, Nakuru, Eldoret and Mombasa.

“An estimated 1.5 million Kenyan children attend these otherwise called Harambee primary schools and a further 1.1 million children go to these institutions for early childhood education across the country. The implications of their closure would be to force the thousands of children in these learning facilities in the rest of the country out of school,” said George Mikwa, chairman of the Kenya Independent Schools Association (KISA).

The informal school operators say they need more time to comply with the new regulations, as was provided in an earlier draft that was agreed upon by stakeholders.

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The Egerton Consensus draft made in March 2014, which involved key Alternative Provision of Basic Education and Training (APBE&T) schools stakeholders, provided a timeline of three years for 50 per cent of teachers in each APBE&T institutions to acquire a government recognised teaching certificate and be registered with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

The players including KISA, the Kenya Complimentary Schools Association (KCSA), and the Kenya Alliance of Non-formal Schools Welfare Association (KANSWA), however said Wednesday that the new draft guidelines give the institutions no timeline to comply and raise the percentage such that virtually no APBE&T institution will be compliant and risk of closure.

They also say the move to ban informal schools outside the seven municipalities is ill-advised.

Mr Mikwa urged the parent ministry to review and engage stakeholders on the new draft guidelines and regulations on the schools.

He said the new guidelines released in June 2015 by Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi do not apply nationally.

Kennedy Buhere, a Communications Officer, earlier this week sought to downplay the matter by saying that the Education ministry provides for informal schools.

“Children in informal urban settlements, which the Basic Education Act, 2013 duly recognises — do not face such an apocalyptic future,” said Mr Buhere.

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