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November 20, 2018

Parents will pay for school fire damage

A dormitory burns at Mnara Secondary School in Muhoroni, Kisumu County, July 11, 2018. /FAITH MATETE
A dormitory burns at Mnara Secondary School in Muhoroni, Kisumu County, July 11, 2018. /FAITH MATETE

The government is encouraging the establishment of more day schools across the country as a way to afford education for all deserving children.

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang yesterday told the Star that while boarding schools will remain in place, the government was pushing for day wings to be established in all boarding schools.

"We have 16 schools across the country which are piloting this concept and they are doing very well. Because not all parents can afford to take their children to boarding, we want those who can afford day to do so. No child should be denied the chance to go to school because of fees or because boarding schools do not have facilities to accommodate them," said Kispang.

Earlier he told the National Assembly Education committee chaired by Tinderet MP Julius Melly that day schooling program will enable parents to engage their children by instilling proper discipline in them.

“The direction that we need to go is a day school system where students operate from home. The ministry would want to increase opportunities in day schooling so that parents can have an opportunity of engaging their children and making sure that the children are properly taken care of,” he said.

The PS cited schools such as Strathmore High School and Kianda School whose students are day scholars contending that the same may be replicated in other schools across the country.

“The two are top schools and we have never had so much challenges because parents have an opportunity to contribute to the discipline of their children. Going forward that is the direction that we are going to adopt. Day schooling is the future that will be able to help us as a country to handle this issue of arson,” he said.

A spate of school fires has left 39 schools closed and 142 students arrested for various offences across the country.

The Cabinet secretary Amina Mohammed and all her senior officials have been allover the country literally fighting and insisting that the ministry will not relent on its reforms.

More on this: [VIDEO] Alarm as new wave of fires hits schools

Read: What Amina said about school fires

Yesterday the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Kisii region other senior officials were in North Eastern, Bomet, West Pokot and Nakuru holding meetings with school managers and students.

In Parliament Kipsang said parents needed to start reflecting on the effects of boarding schools on their children.

“This is one of the countries where obsession for boarding schools is so high. In other parts of the world, day schooling is so strategic and important. The future of any country is day schooling,” Kipsang said.

“Day schooling is the future that will be able to assist us as a country to handle these issues. I think the direction that we gradually need to go is day schooling. Going forward, that is the direction that we are going to day schooling.”

This is after Melly directed: “We need your input as a Ministry on these unrests so as to help us in drafting a report that we will table before the House when it resumes on July 24”.

Kipsang told the MPs that the ministry will first consider introducing day schooling in schools that are situated in major towns in the country.

“We will start with schools that are located in towns like Moi Girls Eldoret, Kisii High School, Mama Ngina Girls, Shimo La Tewa High School so that students can easily walk to and from their homes,” he said.

Accompanied by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development chief executive officer Dr Julius Jwan, the PS gave examples of some day schools which are performing exemplarily.

“We have some boarding schools like Nairobi, Lenana and Dagorreti which have day wings. Going forward from next year, we shall spread this to some of our schools.”

Jwan noted that the country needed to reconsider emphasis on the role of parents as far as education is concerned.

“As a country, we really need to re-look the role of parenting in education. We are giving burden to the teachers without the support of the parent,” Jwan said.

“When parents start complaining that they don’t want their children to stay at home for two months, then we have a challenge.”

Kipsang said the need to increase opportunities in day schooling was part of the recommendations in special investigation report.

“One of the recommendations in the Claire Omollo report is the issue of day schooling. We have so far implemented more than 65 percent of the Claire Omollo report,” Kipsang informed the lawmakers.

The ministry has further maintained that it will not incur the cost of school structures that have been destroyed by students but the responsibility will squarely land on parents.

“Parents whose children participated in these crimes will meet the cost of repairing the schools to the status in which they were before the incidents occurred. We shall not, as government, subsidize crime by restoring those schools,” Kipsang said.

The PS said they are partnering with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in nabbing suspects linked to the widespread unrest that have elicited mixed reactions.

He said the ministry has a report detailing all incidents that have occurred in the 39 schools and promised to table it before the committee next week.

“These are criminals who will not hide behind their uniforms and we shall unmask them. These are criminal activities being committed by criminals and they will go through the due process of the Law,” said the irritated PS.

Details: You will not hide behind uniform, Kipsang warns

Also see: Parents will pay for damages, KCSE unaffected, CS Amina says on school fires

On Wednesday, Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary General Wilson Sossion linked the recent unrest to delocalisation of school heads.

Sossion accused the Education ministry of implementing the policy without consulting other sector players and warned that it hurts learning.

“The delocalisation of heads of schools was wrongly conceived and no one is keen to listen to us. We have seen destabilized management of schools which were performing well by having their management changed,” the ODM nominated MP Sossion said at Parliament Buildings.

But Yesterday, Kipsang reiterated that the policy championed by the Teachers Service Commission will not be halted, saying all teachers have the right to work anywhere in the country just like other public servants.

“Without contradicting anybody including those in Parliament, the government policy of delocalization of school heads will continue to be implemented,” Kipsang said.

He called on leaders and other education stakeholders to allow the TSC to do their work as enshrined in the Constitution.

“When we were students then, we did not choose principals to run our schools. We are not about to allow our children to guide us on who will run our schools,” he said.

“We have never been consulted when a new County Commissioner is posted to a county or when a new OCPD is posted to a police station. We shall therefore not consult our students when it comes to who run our schools.”

Under the policy, no head teacher is allowed to lead a school in his or her native county.

Kipsang further promised to adduce to the committee a detailed assessment report from the ministry’s Directorate of Quality Assurance on the fire incident that occurred at Moi Girls' School in Nairobi.

Another report from the Directorate and Kenyatta National Hospital will also be tabled before the committee on the incident where a student was raped at the same school.

However, the PS requested to have the reports tabled in camera “due to sensitivity of the students”, adding that the DCI has since taken over the matter.

The ministry said it has rolled a programme dubbed Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project to distribute 33 million textbooks to over 30,342 public primary and secondary schools.

The programme targets over 6 million learners in Standard 7, Standard 8 and Forms 1,2,3 and 4.

According to Kipsang, publishers commenced the process textbook distribution after the process was flagged-off by President Uhuru Kenyatta

The project is funded by the World Bank at Sh20 billion.

The PS said: “These sub-counties have been identified based on their high incidence of poverty, low retention rates at primary school level and low transition rates from primary to secondary”.

He said the six-year programme targets Science, Mathematics and English subjects but opted to incorporate Kiswahili “due to its status as both the national and official language”.

Kenya Literature Bureau has distributed 18,720,980 books, Moran East Africa has dispatched 2,600,422 books while Oxford University Press has given out 4,000,936 textbooks.

East African Educational Publishers have distributed 2,140,677 books while Longhorn Publishers have dispatched 3,307,209 books.

Read more: Probe school fires quickly and find causes - principals

Also see: Expert comment: Boarding schools have challenges

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