, KISAUNI, Kenya, Sep 3 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has decried low primary school literacy levels, saying it was unacceptable that most children remain both illiterate and innumerate at the end of primary school.
The President said statistics showing that less than 50 percent of teachers have actual contact with their pupils spelled a problem for the country.
He directed the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Science and Technology to report to him what those charged with Quality Assurance and Standards at the ministry are doing to ensure pupils are learning and quality teaching is taking place.
“Somebody is not doing their work. Government is not getting value for money. This situation cannot and should not persist, because it is a reprehensible disservice to our children. I will not permit it,” the President said.
The President was addressing thousands of primary school head teachers on Tuesday at the Sheikh Zayyed Children’s Centre when he opened their 9th Annual Delegates’ Conference.
The Head of State said in the interest of accountability, an explanation for the rise in the disturbing statistics is overdue. He urged school managers to exceed minimum benchmarks in service delivery.
He acknowledged that teachers’ grievances were legitimate but urged them to be patient, saying his Government sees in teachers a capable partner in seeking solutions and transforming Kenya.
The President expressed the need to redefine the engagement of school managers and teachers with Government to maintain teachers’ effectiveness.
“We must maintain sober and coherent dialogue, and reduce confrontation. Government has a stake in teachers’ welfare. Our collaboration must be focused, patient and founded on mutual understanding and the national interest,” the President said.
He affirmed his Government’s commitment to eliminate regional imbalances in school enrolment where counties like Turkana and Garissa managed less than 35pc when the national average is 93pc.
The President said other challenges including the quality of education, overcrowded classrooms, underequipped schools and underfunding were also being addressed.
“My Government sees in its mandate the imperative to expand access to education while at the same time raising its standards. This involves removing financial and non-financial barriers,” he said.
The President informed teachers that by 2018, Government will be able to dedicate 32pc of its spending through steady annual budgetary increments to the education sector.
He emphasized that as the country embarks on a journey to national resurgence and prosperity, the education sector will play a leading role in producing a professional, well-adjusted human capital of the highest calibre that will confidently compete with the world’s best.
UNICEF Country Representative Madhavi Ashok assured the President and teachers that her organization will step up its support to the country’s education sector including provision of training to head teachers at the county level.
Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi said his ministry was implementing reforms aimed at transforming the education sector to promote seamless education.
(Story by Kazungu Chai – PSCU)