, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 7 – The task force set up to review fees levied in public secondary schools wants smaller institutions merged to reduce the cost of running them.
Chairman Kilemi Mwiria indicated that a ceiling should be put on the maximum amount of fees to be paid in the schools since most costs are driven up by extra levies and charges that weigh down on parents.
He was speaking during the validation of the task force report on Monday which further recommended that the registration of new secondary schools be suspended in a bid to reduce the cost of running public schools by the government.
“There are secondary schools all over and they are coming up whether or not there are enough students. They are coming up all over the place and that puts a lot of strain not only in government but also the Teachers Service Commission with regard to having enough teachers and the parents who have to pay for the non- teaching staff,” he said.
Mwiria pointed out that should the recommendations be implemented by 2015, the free secondary education programme would be a reality which will see many students access education.
“We are also encouraged that we have time to implement the report by 2015. The Free Primary Education was implemented by the NARC government without any preparation. It was a political commitment and the government came in and in January 2003 it said that we have to implement free primary education. We can also do the same with secondary education,” he stated.
A number of stakeholders however stated that it would be difficult to implement some of the recommendations as they were not practical.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Charmin Mudzo Nzili explained that the population in some parts of the country was so small that merging schools would be inconveniencing to many students.
He further stated that this would have political implications as many leaders would not take it kindly to the closure of schools in their regions.
“You know there are some areas which are not as populated. The distances are so wide and the population is so small. In the previous definition of a school, it was a place where twelve or more students are receiving regular instructions. Before those schools are denied teachers by the TSC, they should be defined to mean what they are described in the education Act,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by the Kenya Union of Post Primary Schools Teachers (KUPPET) Secretary General Akelo Misori who said that the final report needs to be amended to ensure contentious clauses are dealt with.
“In our view, I think while the task force has done a commendable job in terms of revealing to us and itemizing what we are supposed to cover, we need a revision and there should be an amendment in the outcome to this when it is finally tabled,” he said.
Education Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi had appointed the task force to review the fees levied in public secondary schools to ensure they are affordable.
The task force was to handle concerns that have been raised by education stakeholders and parents over the high levies being charged following reports that the cost was beyond the reach of bright students from poor backgrounds.
It was expected to look into policy guidelines on the implementation of the free day secondary education programme, identify and recommend best practices from private schools and other countries in governance and management.
It was also to review guidelines on reducing indirect costs in secondary and special schools and examine possible challenges in the implementation of tuition fees waiver programme in secondary and primary schools.
The team is also expected to improve on the provision of Free Day Secondary Education and align it to a pro-poor programme.
The high fees and levies are among factors that have forced some bright students earlier selected to join national and extra-county schools to move to less expensive district schools, mainly day schools.
The task force guided by the theme “Affordable and Accessible Quality Secondary Education” consists of professionals from diverse fields who are expected to examine ways of expanding access to secondary schools as well as review essentials versus optional needs in secondary education.