• He said his firmness and teamwork with other players also saved parents from paying for damages as is norm.
• Magoha tells his critics to provide solutions, 'not just criticise for the sake'.
Arson in secondary schools has reduced by 75 per cent this year, Education CS George Magoha has said.
The CS attributed this to his firmness and teamwork, adding that had he not been firm on regional educational coordinators both in the Teachers Service Commission and the ministry, arson cases would not have reduced.
“We have reached out to you, both in boarding and day schools, and we have reasoned together and we have reduced burning by almost 75 per cent compared to the same period last year,” Magoha said.
He spoke on Tuesday while opening the 44th Kenya Secondary School Heads Association annual conference at the Kenya School of Revenue Administration in Mombasa.
He said his firmness has also saved parents a lot of money.
“As thinkers, we agree that it is better to punish one child rather than punishing the parents of the whole school to produce money that they don’t have to build another structure."
The trend has been that parents of a school that has been set ablaze by students are forced to pay for the damage. This must change.
Kessha chairman Indimuli Kahi said a different approach in student management has also helped reduce the cases.
He disclosed that they held a week-long meeting with about 2,500 student leaders from across the country on how to better address learners' problems.
Principals, Kahi said, have also partnered with anti-terror groups which go round schools to address issues of radicalisation and extremism.
“This is a programme that has been running for the last two or three years. The fruits of all these efforts supported by the government are what we are noticing now – the rate of arson in school this year going down,” Kahi said.
On Tuesday, Magoha said being firm is one of his virtues and told off critics saying he cannot change.
“My strength, first of all, comes from God and my firmness. So, don’t tell me to stop being firm. I shall not listen to you. There are people out there who have decided to demonise my firmness for arrogance,” he said.
He was responding to, among others, Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion, who accuse him of being arrogant.
Sossion and Magoha have been at loggerheads over the rollout of the Competency-Based Curriculum.
The Knut boss says Magoha will ruin the lives of Kenyan children "if he continues to bulldoze his way over the CBC".
But Magoha said he will continue to be firm with himself and the people he leads.
He said as a student of Starehe Boys Centre he was trained to be a servant and a leader by example.
The CS told critics to offer concrete solutions to move forward and not just criticise for the sake of it.
In a thinly veiled criticism of Sossion, Magoha said teachers are supposed to be thinkers, accusing some of them of stopping to become activists.
“Any teacher who has become an activist should resign from the noble profession of teaching because when you are a teacher, you look at issues and think openly and widely."
PS Belio Kipsang also defended his boss from criticism about his firmness.
He said dealing with a population of about 17 million learners, millions of parents and Sh470 billion needs one to be tough.
“Professor and our field marshal, we urge you to continue being firm, focused and having a clarity of purpose so that our children and this country can get a return on the investment that is being put in this sector,” Kipsang said.
Magoha said a CS, especially in the Education docket, must be criticised because it is the most difficult docket everywhere in the world.
Criticism energises him, he noted, adding that without being firm, the ministry risks getting budget cuts which will affect capitation in schools.
The least funded Education ministry in Africa, Asia and the Middle East gets about 22 per cent of the country’s total budget, he said.
“So, at 35 per cent of the budget, we are definitely not doing badly."
He will ensure the 100 per cent transition programme is a success but this can only be achieved if all the education stakeholders work as a team, he said.
Edited by R.Wamochie