Fix hurdles hurting full transition policy
On Tuesday, Education Cabinet secretary George Magoha released Form One placements for more than one million Kenya certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination candidates.
One key policy pronouncement he made was the government is dead set to achieve its 100 per cent transition to secondary school.
Going by the statistics, save for 8,255 candidates, who were not placed because of being over-age or in refugee camps, 1,075,201 out of 1,083,456 pupils will report to class next month.
This is commendable effort by government to ensure all children have access to education. But this begs the question on whether the policy is feasible, given physical constraints and teacher shortage in most schools, affecting quality of learning.
A more direct question would be: where are all these slots? For instance, statistics shows last year, 960,765 (93 per cent) of 1,052,334 candidates, transitioned to secondary schools.
This means in the last one year, more than 114,000 vacancies have opened up. Is there evidence to back the figure? May be, may be not.
According to this years’ Economic Survey, 826,000 students were in Form One in 2018, meaning about a quarter of a million new Form One slots have been created in the last two years.
Noble as it may be, it would be foolhardy to fail to admit 100 per cent transition policy, started last year, has been weighed down by a myriad challenges.
To cope with swelling student numbers and infrastructural stress, some schools have had to convert old workshops—and even parking sheds—into dormitories and classrooms.
The situation is further compounded by financial handicaps straddling learning institutions.
Granted, CS Magoha has promised to avail Sh8 billion for infrastructure improvement in primary and secondary schools, but this is like a drop in the ocean.
Though the situation is dire across the country, counties such as Nairobi, Mombasa and Kilifi are hardest hit— and as a result spill their stress elsewhere.
What is needed is for the government to roll out a massive expansion of schools by building new ones and hiring tutors even as it strives improve existing facilities to ensure its 100 per cent transition policy succeeds.