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Ongeri defends upgrading of schools

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – Education Minister Sam Ongeri has defended the government’s decision to upgrade two provincial schools in each county to national status, saying it will not erode the quality of education.

He said the decision was merely meant to increase the capacity of national schools to absorb more students.  The current capacity stands at 4, 517.

Educational experts had warned that increasing national schools to more than 100 will impact negatively on the standards of the institutions.

"There has been a hullabaloo about the affirmative action that we took. We were not intending to punish any child whatsoever," he said. "If we are to follow the Constitution completely, the element of equity comes in."

The Ministry of Education has launched a taskforce expected to streamline the education sector in line with the new Constitution.

Prof Ongeri said that the taskforce would be tasked with analysing the implications of the new Constitution on education and review the education system in the country with respect to access, equity and quality.

He stated that the team will also be looking at investment in infrastructure in both public and private schools countrywide.

"With the new Constitution, it gives us a new impetus to be able to draft relevant polices that will drive us to the ultimate goal for this nation," he said.

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The Education Minister further stated that the panel will also undertake a situational investigation of the education sector to determine its strengths and weaknesses in relation to the country\’s objectives.

"This taskforce is mandated to look into the education sector, in a bid to realign it with the provisions of the new Constitution in the broad areas of investment, legal content and financial content," he said.

He expressed optimism of an increase in the transition rate of students from primary to secondary schools.

Prof Ongeri said that a 72.5 percent transition rate will be attained from the recent form one selection process.

He however stated that despite this increase, there are still quite a large number of children who have not enrolled in school.

"We expect in the primary circle that total enrolment should be over 10 million but currently, it is just 8.6 million so these 1.5 million children out there must be captured.

He stressed the importance of education saying it contributes greatly to the economic development of a country.

"Quality education and training contributes significantly to economic growth and expansion of job opportunities. It is also enhances equity in line with our commitment to MDG goals," he pointed out.

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