What’s in a school name? Parents’ pains in search of Form One admission


Students and their parents during form one admission at Kapletingi Mixed Day School in Chepkorio, of Keiyo South Constituency, Elgeyo Marakwet County on February 06, 2023. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

As Form One students started reporting to school on Monday, some parents are yet to find admission slots for their children.

According to some parents who spoke to the Business Daily, some teachers are asking for up to Sh100,000 to admit the students, most of whom got admission letters to day schools in other counties.

“The challenge is that many students end up with schools they didn’t choose; some of those could even be good, but the school is too far from home which is a challenge to parents and learners,” says Levi Kones a TV producer-cum-author.

“Then we have brokers who are not even ashamed to ask for a bribe. There is a certain school in Kitale that asked me for Sh30,000. I cannot bribe,” he says.

According to him, a teacher asked for the money. “What I have heard from many parents is that principals are fearing to ask for the money themselves; so they use someone. Another parent told me they were asked to pay Sh100,000 for a national school that is in Rift Valley. It is a boys’ school, yet the child scored over 400 marks,” he says.

Mr Kones says the Education ministry should allow children to go to schools of their choice.

“Every year, parents are given a very long form whereby they choose County, National, and all those (schools). You are given a form; you choose two national schools, two extra county, two county, two day schools…. you end up choosing almost 10 schools, then you get none of them…. I think out of your choices you should be able to get one,” he says.

His social media rant helped him get a school.

“An alumni of a certain school called me and asked me if I liked their school, and talked to the principal and the following day they sent me a letter. The school is in Rift Valley - Baringo,” says Mr Kones whose child scored 348 marks in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and did not like the school the government picked.

“It is not just a matter of choosing a school; a school is not only about academics. As a parent, you need academics, discipline, and values, because when you send a child to Form One, you don’t know how they will be when they come back. So we consider many things,” he says.

Herbert Karani has gone to some schools to look for admission for his child who scored 317 marks in KCPE, but his efforts bore no fruits.

Together with his friend, they were not allowed to enter the school compound, until a former headmistress intervened on phone.

However, they were told to wait until those who had been selected to join the school reported, for his request to be considered, if there would be some vacancies.

“I also sought admission in a nice school in Mbiuni, but they told me that my child had not qualified - they are only picking those with 350 marks and above,” says Mr Karani.

He adds that they are still looking for a school and that his daughter got an admission letter to a day school that they did not choose.

“So I was wondering how they could select the child to a day school in Tala, Machakos, yet we live in Nairobi. The selection was not fair,” he says.

“The government should be transparent. We were choosing those schools based on the proximity,” he adds.

Mary Mugo, an education expert, who is the country’s Director for Edukans, says most parents resist some schools due to a lack of facilities and teachers and that there is a need for an equalisation programme to ensure all schools have similar facilities and human capacity.

“Years back the Ministry of Education had an economic stimulus programme to fund undeveloped schools. This inequality mess has to be addressed. Kenya has enough schools, the competition arises in pursuit of performance and discipline. Choose schools that develop children holistically, life is not just determined by grades only,” Ms Mugo says.

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