NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 8 – Over 250,000 candidates who sat last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education will miss form one places representing a 64 percent absorption rate.
Education Minister Sam Ongeri announced on Thursday that public and private schools in the country could only absorb 435,872 students out of 695,728 who sat the exams.
“The Ministry is concerned at the large number of KCPE candidates who are unable to proceed to secondary education. This remains a challenge that needs to be addressed by all the stakeholders in the society,” he said and urged schools with available infrastructure to increase the number of streams to accommodate more students.
National Schools will admit 3,331 students (0.5percent), provincials 122,365 (17.6 percent) while district schools will accommodate the bulk of 277,693 (40 percent). Private schools are on the other hand expected to take in a total of 42,483 (6.1 percent).
Last year 70 percent of the candidates were absorbed.
Selected students are expected to report to school between February 2 and 6, but this hangs in the balance owing to an impending teachers strike.
Talks between the government and the Kenya National Union of Teachers hit a deadlock last month and a three hour crisis meeting called by Prof Ongeri on Tuesday failed to yield fruit. The teachers rejected a Sh17.3 billion three-year phased package that would have seen them earn as much as their civil servant counterparts, saying that they wanted a lump sum payment.
The union is also demanding for more increases for teachers in the lower cadres which comprise of a bulk of its members.
KNUT has threatened to go on strike on January 19 while another union, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) plans to hold its strike next Thursday. The Minister said he was preparing his report to the Labour minister who is expected to pick up the matter.
The Minister said he would on Friday publish the offer in the dailies as a last resolve to persuade the teachers.
“If you take an extra trouble to look at the details of what you will take home you will have a second thought,” he told teachers present at the selection exercise.
Prof Ongeri has already warned teachers that the government would withdraw the offer if the matter heads to the industrial court.
In the meantime, KUPPET said it is studying the offer to establish whether it suits its interests. The union which was not engaged in the consultations that bore the offer however said it would seek an agreement with the government to avert their planned strike.
The union has been pushing for the harmonisation of salaries for its members with other civil servants which the new offer now grants.
“You don’t go to war if you have already gotten what you wanted. So we will determine the way forward after studying it,” he said.
The government refused to negotiate with the union since it does not have the statutory membership of 51 percent but Secretary General Njeru Kanyamba said that it had made progress in registering new members and will sign an agreement with the government once the exercise is complete.
While launching the National Schools selection, Prof Ongeri urged schools to prudently use infrastructure funds to expand their institutions.
Prof Ongeri in the meantime warned school heads against haphazard fee increases. He maintained that only parents’ annual General Meetings had the mandate to review fee guidelines issued by the Ministry with the approval of District Education officers.
The caution came amidst reports that some schools had increased their fees. Teachers had petitioned the government to allow 28 percent increases to cater for increasing costs of living. The chairman of the Secondary School heads Cleophas Tirop urged the minister to enable schools to purchase grain directly from the National Cereals and Produce Board at cheaper rates.