When the government announced last year that there would be a 100 percent transition rate from primary school to Form One, the declaration was received with great relief from parents and students alike. It was a noble goal that aimed at ensuring that no qualified pupil dropped out of school before they had spent 12 years in class. However, even as Kenyans welcomed the move, it appeared that those implementing the directive forgot that there were intrinsic challenges that would come with the quest to admit the pupils.
Following the Form One admissions, many head teachers warned that they were expecting acute congestion in their institutions as students were being received in large numbers despite lacking adequate infrastructure and teaching personnel. The policy makers at the Education ministry have decreed that the schools must follow orders and ensure that the 100 percent transition is a success. This has resulted in many schools ending up with hundreds of students that they cannot adequately cater for due to lack of facilities.
School heads are now lobbying Parliament for a fee increase of up to Sh17,773 per student. They argue that this will help them cater for the rising operation costs and maintenance of classrooms and desks.
According to the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association, national schools require Sh91,646 per student to run the institutions against the set current budget of Sh75,798.
The association also wants the fees for extra county schools increased to Sh80,452, county boarding schools by Sh7,537 and day schools by Sh6,257 to Sh28,501 excluding lunch.
The government should listen to the cries by the school heads and find ways of mitigating their plight.
It makes no sense filling the institutions with students to meet the 100 percent transition rate goal if they will only end up studying in cramped conditions and not receiving the required quality learning. Overstretching the school infrastructure by congesting classrooms, dormitories and laboratories will only hurt the quality of learning.
The government’s policy honchos should burn the midnight oil and find a way of assisting the institutions. Extra funds are needed to hire more teachers, build new infrastructure and to ensure that the learning environment is suitable for the students.