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Team formed to look into Form One selection

Headteachers pick letters for Form One students at Coast Girls High School. The   formula in use saw 65 per cent of national school slots go to public school pupils. File
Headteachers pick letters for Form One students at Coast Girls High School. The formula in use saw 65 per cent of national school slots go to public school pupils. File 

The Ministry of Education is forming a taskforce to look into the Form One selection criterion that has raised a storm with claims that pupils from public primary schools are given preference to join national schools.

The decision to constitute an 11-member team was reached when Education PS James ole Kiyiapi met representatives of affected schools on Tuesday.

The team, made up of five representatives of the Education ministry and four from private schools, is scheduled to begin its work on Monday and will deliberate for two weeks.

Kenya Primary School Head teachers Association chairman Joseph Karuga and his secondary schools counterpart Cleophas Tirop will represent schools.

The ministry is drawing up its list of nominees. “We will refine the selection formula and make it more predictable to all stakeholders by ensuring that equity, regional balance, and merit are met,” said Prof Kiyiapi.

“After the technical committee presents its findings we hope that students will be able to make informed decisions as early as March,” he added.

It also emerged that the ministry had done a manual re-selection of candidates who scored over 400 marks and had missed out on schools of their choice.

“We will forward our list of nominees even as we continue working on a comprehensive list of recommendations regarding the matter,” said Mr John Kabui, the Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) chairman. Mr Kabui will be part of the task force.

Last month, KPSA went to court, for the second year in a row, seeking to have the ministry review the criteria which has seen more students from public primary schools join national secondary schools. Though judge G.B.M Kariuki did not grant a halt to the selection process, he directed that Education minister Sam Ongeri makes public the criteria used in the exercise.

The district quota formula in use saw 65 per cent of national school slots go to students from public primary schools with the balance allotted to their colleagues from private schools.

However, KPSA has in the past maintained that admission should be based on merit as opposed to the type of school pupils attend.

“This is what we have been calling for and with this task force we can now see some light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mr Kabui. The ministry seems to have shelved its hard stance, warming up to talks with private schools’ representatives.

During the launch of the Form One selection process last month, the ministry advised the private sector to invest more in secondary schools as opposed to “fighting” the ministry’s directives.

At the time, Prof Kiyiapi defended the criteria arguing that if all children were allowed to go to schools of their choice they would select top schools while it’s impossible for all to get positions there.

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