Kenya: Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi has defended his ministry’s Form One selection criteria that has been described by some as scandalous.
He insisted that merit, affirmative action and candidates’ choice of schools determined their placement in various schools.
He said the major challenge faced by his ministry is how to enforce the 20:40:40 ratio and the limitation of admission of candidates to county schools.
“The selection criteria was circulated to all relevant education stakeholders with a view that they cascade it to everyone. There is nothing that we have done differently this year,” he said.
The CS explained for national schools selection, competition for slots was purely between candidates in their respective sub-counties.
“Candidates from all sub-counties were given an equal chance for admission to national schools,” he said.
Kaimenyi said the top three boys and top three girls were chosen per sub-county to join national schools.
“This makes the total number six per sub-county. This explains why candidates from a given sub-county can be selected to a national school while another with higher marks may not,” he said.
He said sub-county quotas and affirmative action were used to ensure sub-county candidates got slots in national schools.
The CS made the clarification following reports that some top performing candidates were left out of premier schools.
Up to 20,291 candidates were selected to join the 103 national schools. Last year 888,258 candidates sat KCPE, but only 693,946 candidates were picked to join Form One this year.
This means that 194,312 candidates have not been allocated places in secondary schools this year, representing 22 per cent of the total number of candidates.
Kaimenyi clarified that after national schools’ selection, the remaining candidates were selected to join extra county schools based on merit and choice, “failure to which they were placed in county or sub-county schools”.
Extra county schools are expected to admit 66,497 students as county schools take in 128,049 students. There are 25 special needs education schools.
The CS also said there were cases where high-scoring candidates were not placed in county schools and admitted to sub-county schools.
“This is because some counties such as Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kajiado do not have enough county schools,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kaimenyi has instructed the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to punish secondary school heads that increased fees, describing such principals as criminals.
Speaking in his office yesterday, the CS announced that the Government had released Sh11.2 billion for the free education programme to benefit 2.1 million children in 7,711 public schools.
A team from his ministry has been formed to visit schools and make recommendations.
The seemingly furious CS termed as “criminals” school principals who have flouted the Education ministry’s school fees guidelines.
“These are like criminals and they must be punished,” he said and asked parents and other education stakeholders to identify the culprits.
The directive came after The Standard revealed yesterday the tricks used by some schools to charge up to Sh100,000 annually, locking out some needy children.
Kaimenyi instructed schools to adhere to a raft of cost-cutting measures generated by the ministry in a series of circulars.
“School uniform is one of the major items contributing to high fees in schools. Schools are expected to procure uniform through open tenders as per the regulations, and this should apply to all other items procured by schools,” he said.
Kaimenyi also said schools must stick to the recommended number of non-teaching staff provided for each type and school size.
“Essential support staff should be employed on such terms as may be determined by the Board of Management in consultation with Ministry of Education,” he said.
He said laundry services must be eliminated in schools and students given an opportunity to develop life skills.
“Staff engaged in the management of school income generating activities should be paid strictly from the proceeds of the same, and not from school levies or any other source,” he said.
He told parents: “If you give me the copies of fees structures I will present them to TSC for immediate action.”
Education PS Belio Kipsang said schools have been instructed to admit all students as long as they have made a fraction of the payment.