State must tackle woes hurting public schools

Friday, November 22nd, 2019 00:02 |
Education CS George Magoha (right) with his PS Belio Kipsang. Photo/TABITHA MBATIA

While some public schools pulled a surprise in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education(KCPE) exams by crashing the party of the regular academic giants,  it is still evident their private  counterparts continue to dominate the top positions.  

The poor showing in government-run primary schools is attributed to, among other factors, inadequate funding, high pupil-teacher ratio, demoralised staff, poverty and, in some places, parents who are hostile to teachers. Although the problems experienced in public schools differ with the locality of the institutions, the State must even the playing field. 

For instance, the teacher deficit in rural schools is endemic compared to urban schools.   

While it is commendable that the Teachers Service Commission has recruited 5,000 secondary school teachers and is in the process of hiring 10,000  interns,  the numbers are inadequate  to bridge the estimated 108,610 deficit. 

Questions also abound about the remuneration  for the interns. The Sh10,000 that the primary school interns and the Sh15,000 that the secondary schools counterparts will earn is too low in current tough economic times. 

To reduce the deficit, the government has to direct more resources to hiring of more teachers.

 But this alone cannot change the fortunes of public schools in exams. The government needs to ensure the teachers give value for money. That many public school teachers prefer to take their children private institutions is not a secret. This speaks volumes about their confidence in the institutions they work in.  

It is also common knowledge that teacher absenteeism is chronic in public schools with disturbing reports that some teachers devote more time to their private businesses. This truancy must be punished. 

Parents, who are key stakeholders in education sector have their share of blame in the woes of public schools. 

Besides abdicating their parenting role, some are indifferent to issues such as feeding programmes that are key to performance of their children.  Ultimately, the performance of a school is dependent on the  synergies of all stakeholders— the ministry, teachers, pupils and parents. 

The State, too, must provide  requisite infrastructure and fast-track delivery of textbooks and other learning materials to schools to boost performance in public institutions. 

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