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January 20, 2019

'Form one selection should not favour public schools'

Kenya Private Schools Association CEO Peter Ndoro
Kenya Private Schools Association CEO Peter Ndoro

The teachers’ month-long strike came to an end this week bringing a sigh of relief to parents and students.

But with the end of the strike, another problem will readily present itself towards the end of the year — the form one selection conundrum. The issue has persistently angered private schools as the government favours public schools in the placement.

Private schools have been crying foul at the manner in which the selection is done, arguing that it is discriminatory and unfair, as it favours candidates from public schools.

But speaking to the Star, the Kenya Private Schools Association chairman Peter Ndoro said negotiations, to resolve the matter, have been ongoing and are at a critical stage.

“A policy that targets institutions is a no-no for us. But we have no problem with a policy that targets less advantaged pupils. Pupils with lack of facilities, from the marginalised areas are deserving cases. That one we support 100 per cent,” he said.

The association wants the criteria amended into a more merit-based for top performers. Ndoro said the association was also not opposed to the selection of students based on the quota system as long as the interest of the pupil was upheld and not the school’s.

“We maintain that a policy that discriminates just because one is from a private school is wrong and self-defeating,” he said.

During the strike, the ministry announced the closure of all schools — both private and public — but the former were angered and moved to court and obtained orders that enabled them to continue learning.

According to the ministry, the closure of all schools was necessitated by the need to monitor the curriculum delivery across all schools, including private schools, that run on the 8-4-4 Curriculum.

“The protracted strike had disrupted and distorted all the harmony and uniformity that must exist in the management and delivery strategy of the 8-4-4 curriculum across the board. The ministry extended the directive to cover students in private primary and secondary schools because they run on the same curriculum as public primary and secondary schools,” a statement from the ministry stated.

The government said it recognises the role owners of private schools play in complementing government in providing education services to Kenyans. “It is deeply indebted to this partnership in addressing the problems of access, equity, quality in the provisions of education services,” the ministry said.

The ministry spokesman Kennedy Buhere told the Star talks have been ongoing. He added the criteria has never been static but there has been structural changes over the years. Three years ago, two best candidates was picked from the districts regardless of whether they are from private or public. And last year, the best three girls and boys were picked from every sub-county for positions in the national schools.

In a report released this week, the numbers of schools grew at an annual rate of 5.1 per cent between 2009 and 2014. The report notes that the growth was higher, 12 per cent, in private schools compared to that of public schools at 3.2 per cent. In terms of proportion, private schools increased from 19 per cent in 2009 to 26 per cent in 2014.

The number of KCPE candidature has been growing over the years with 727,100 in 2009 to 880,486 in 2014, representing an annual growth rate of 3.9 per cent, according to the ministry. “The data reveals that the candidature of girls has been growing faster with an annual growth rate of 4.8 per cent compared to that of boys at 3 per cent,” it adds.

Over 900,000 pupils will write the examinations this year.

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