Should it happen that pupils admitted to Form One must just join the schools to which they were selected then we can as well forget about total transition from primary to secondary. At this point, I thought the most important issue is access, not where to.
Considering that there are so many factors determining where parents take their children to school, it may not be possible to impose it upon parents on where their children should learn. There are monetary and social factors to it.
It is appreciated that there is need for checks and balances in the education sector to ensure both access and quality. However, so many factors work against this and the restriction being imposed now may only serve to hurt further.
Someone will wonder what could have gone wrong with parents making direct requests and getting letters from the schools. Could it be that someone at the ministry wants to use this system to hold some of the 'top' schools and parents at ransom, having been convinced that principals of such schools were making a kill from direct requests?
If the Form Ones are supposed to report at around the same time to make learning uniform, is this objective not being defeated by such a procedure?
Similarly what is the problem with principals accepting requests and giving letters directly to the parents when they have adequate facilities to accommodate the numbers they have admitted?
This is from the assumption that the restriction is meant to check overenrolment by some schools. Should it be that the ministry insists on this for tracking purposes, the learners have a unique personal identifier (UPI) and can therefore be identified no matter where they are are admitted.
Once the details are logged in, the information will just be a click away. The order will be obeyed but equally the Education secretary should have considered the following:
In the selection exercise, there are those who were randomly placed in schools hundreds of miles away and schools that were not among their choices. They cannot imagine going there come what may due to monetary and social reasons. Such pupils have county and extra county schools closer and more convenient. Must they go through the torture of waiting when they also need to be in school with others?
Secondly, there are boys who were selected to join girls schools and girls selected to join boys schools. What is their crime in asking for admission in same category schools, and conveniently getting their admission letters?
Then there is the last group who were either not selected to any school or got letters to multiple institutions.
Admissions ito secondary schools is self checking and what is practical is that every new admission must have the UPI keyed in so that the government gets to know who learns where and how many they are.
If it is the fear that principals will extort money from parents who make direct requests, of all the corruption cases in courts now, none is a principal and there is a way this can be checked without necessarily punishing parents..
Allow the learners the freedom of choice, with responsibility, and follow them up in the schools to be sure they are really learning there, to make the total transition real.
Tasma Saka, Homa Bay, via email