NAIROBI, August 26 – Education Minister Professor Sam Ongeri Tuesday directed all schools to set up a guidance and counselling department in efforts to respond to the recent school unrest in the country.,
Speaking during the Kenya Education Stakeholders Conference at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, he said the government was working on a crash programme to provide counselling in schools through the Teachers Service Commission.
He called for collective responsibility in guiding children in schools and at home.
Ongeri also reiterated his ban on holiday tuition saying that parents should use the holidays to bond with their children.
“If you are able to go through the curriculum which is provided for, then you will be able to give your children an opportunity to rest during the normal vacations, stay with your children at home and give them guidance,” he said.
Ongeri further said there was need to have a student-friendly curriculum that would retain children in school.
He said some of them drop out of school due to the tight curriculums that overburden them.
He also directed education sectors to start focusing on ICT and digitalising the curriculum to move with the modern technology.
The Minister noted that young people form close to half of the 38 percent of illiterate Kenyans.
“Only 62 per cent of Kenyans are literate, meaning that 38 percent are illiterate this is far way too below in the international standards where some countries have more than 90 percent, and the sad thing is that of the 38 percent who are illiterate, 49 percent are young people,” he said.
He also said about 1.9 million children of school-going age were not attending school even after the introduction of free primary and secondary education.
He noted that Kenya would host a regional conference in November to discuss the absorption rate since it is low even in urban areas.
The Minister also expressed concerns that the country was incapable of absorbing students for higher learning due to shortage of the public and private universities in Kenya.
He said out of the 82,000 students who qualified last year, only about 40,000 of them gained higher education in public, private and foreign universities.
Acknowledging it as a real challenge for the government, Ongeri urged the private sector to partner with the government to work towards expanding room for higher learning.
Riara Group of Schools Director Daniel Gachukia however said about Sh25 billion is spent yearly by Kenyan students studying abroad.
He appealed to the government to quickly take action and expand the higher learning institution to save such colossal amounts that could have otherwise been used to develop the country.
The conference being attended by both the public and private education stakeholders will also be deliberating on improving the quality of education and among others how to partner to raise resources and create other avenues to support education in the country.