Elimu Bora Working Group is perturbed by the prevailing crisis in Education sector in Kenya today and wish to make the following observations and recommendations -
- Confusion in the reporting by Junior Secondary Schools: The first day - 30 January 2023 - at junior secondary schools saw the head teachers bemoan serious logistical mess. Failure by the newly recruited teachers to report to their new workstations, slow distribution of textbooks and pressure on the few available classrooms are some of the challenges that the school heads have had to contend with even as the country’s new CBC transitions to junior secondary schools. All these logistical problems only show poor preparation on the side of the government. They confirm the fears that the whole idea of Junior Secondary Schools was not properly thought through, and as such afforded proper preparations. The processions by parents and community members in some counties in Northern and Eastern parts of the country protesting the relocation of their children to schools far away from their homes speak volumes about poor levels of preparation for the transition.
Domiciling JSS in primary schools has its challenges but the government need not fold any pre-existing primary schools, especially public primary schools, but should step in to provide the needed infrastructural and human resource support to make the school be up to standard in providing JSS.
- The level of preparedness by teachers for the junior secondary schools (Manpower): Speaking during the 2022 KCSE results release, the Chief Executive Officer at the Teachers Service Commission, Dr. Nancy Macharia, stated that the Commission has already trained 2376 master trainers who were expected to retool the new instructors for the junior secondary schools. This position is problematic to the extent that the students in the junior secondary schools may not have instructors until the training is done. It is easy to see the way the training process will be rushed in an attempt to catch up time. It would be helpful to expose the stakeholders to the training manual that has been adopted to prepare the teachers for the junior secondary schools.
Rapid recruitment, induction and deployment of teachers for JSS should be prioritized.
- Infrastructural preparedness: While the infrastructural demands of transitioning to junior secondary schools are glaring, the reality points to poor preparations by the government to keep up with the pace. The proposed new curriculum is resource intensive yet there is no serious resource commitment by the government to ensure that all the junior secondary schools are equipped with the necessary infrastructure.
Capitation grant should be made available to schools to enable them to bridge the infrastructure gaps.
- The issue of management of the junior secondary schools: That the government is proposing that the new established junior secondary schools be under the management of the host primary schools demonstrates an assumption of the unique management and governance needs of the junior secondary schools. Furthermore, such an arrangement runs the risk of putting a strain on the school management teams, thus interfering with their effectiveness.
The MoE should prepare and release clear guidelines that would streamline participatory school administration and management.
- The ministry to clarify on whether it has vacated the Matiangi-Magoha directive barring the media from accessing public primary schools: Such a directive is a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the right of the public to get the most accurate picture of the state of the country’s public learning institutions.
We demand for immediate vacation of that draconian and uncalled for rule to enable the media - as the public eye – to continue accessing and reporting to the public on what goes on in schools and other learning institutions. Articles 32, 33, 34 and 35 should NOT be derogated by anyone whatsoever.
- There are concerns of the government favoring private schools: The defunding of public schools and poorly thought through implementation of the CBC is likely to work to the advantage of private learning institutions as they enjoy direct resource intervention from their private owners. In the long run, there will be a mass exodus of pupils from public schools to the private schools.
The GoK must prioritize public Education of quality and must cease forthwith from promoting for-private schools. Direct public resources to strengthen public Education system – and NOT applying public funds for private profits.
- The CDF bursary scam: In as much as the members of parliament have in the recent past come out guns blazing, demanding for the release of CDF funds, the recent reports on disbursement of bursaries by various members of parliament from this kitty show an opportunistic and dishonest cabal is keen on using the slightest opportunity to rob the public coffers. The latest auditor reports show that at least 1.2 billion shillings’ worth of CDF bursary funds have gone missing in some counties and constituencies. The report also shows misuse of the funds, and denial of assistance to needy and deserving learners. The scrutiny for the NG-CDF for some 50 constituencies in 2019/2020 shows that up to 797 million may have been lost to underserving students. Unless the members of parliament give a convincing response to these glaring audit queries, they lack both the moral and political justification to claim further control of the CDF bursary funds. If anything, the revelations brought forth by the office of the auditor general should attract the necessary criminal prosecution. Worse still, the Supreme Court had recently pronounced itself on the illegality of the CDF Act of 2003. The Government has disclosed that it will spend Kshs. 6 Billion on capitation grants to learners of Junior Secondary Schools for Term One and Term Two of 2023, with each of them receiving an individual capitation of Ksh.15,000 per year. This information needs to be simplified and explained to parents and school Board of Management to avoid mismanagement or double charging of innocent parents.
Elimu Bora calls for TWO options:
- Government MUST re-commit to its national, regional, and international commitments of making BASIC EDUCATION free and compulsory hence no need for bursary.
- Consolidate all bursary funds (MCAs, Governors, MPs, and President’s bursary schemes into ONE administered at the WARD level…. but not controlled by MCAs or Chiefs.)
- Privatization of Public Universities: The Cabinet Secretary in charge of Investment, Trade and Industry, Mr. Moses Kuria, recently revealed plans to privatize several public universities in a bid to strengthen their financial stability. We find this style of reasoning badly flawed as it completely deserts the philosophy of education being a public good and should as such be affordable to all. If anything, the government owes its youths an opportunity for self-advancement. The privatization of university education thus alienates a significant portion of learners who may have the resource wherewithal to keep up with the cost of private training. In the circumstance, the government needs to increase the funding for public universities to enable them to sustain their operations.
We say NO privatization of Public Universities or TVET, Tertiary and Higher Education.
- Destruction of Schools in the North Rift Valley: One of the challenges of education in Kenya is inequality, which means that those from low socio-economic backgrounds have difficulty accessing education. Central to the education reforms in Kenya has been establishing an education system that addresses relevance, equity, inclusion, and waste. The insecurity happenings in Turkana, Samburu, West Pokot, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet has affected learning in schools. The government has severally made public statements which do not address the menace. How will equality in education achieved in such a learning environment?
Let’s engage on the Safe Schools Agenda and let the government provide a structured framework for stakeholder participation in the process.
- Discordance in communication with parents, teachers, students, school administrators and other key stakeholders: Education matters have become goods for juggling by all manner of persons. If the CS Trade is not giving directives on school uniforms, or threatening to privatize public universities, the other is directing teachers on how to teach, and no one is talking about funds transfers to schools. Where is the CS Education? What are the 3 PS doing?
We call upon the leadership of the Education sector to remain sober, forthright, transparent, and accountable to the stakeholders and general public so that challenges in the sector can be identified in time and addressed appropriately. Unpredictability in leadership is not helping the sector to think and act straight.
Members of Elimu Bora Working Group
Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Uraia Trust, Elimu Tuitakayo, Forum for African Women Educationists (FAWE), Constitution Reforms Education Consortium (CRECO); African Population Council (APC); National Students Caucus, Kenya National Interface Team (KNIT); Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA); (Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU).