NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 22 – Candidates in areas worst hit by insecurity may have to wait until next year to sit national examinations, the Education ministry has said.
While appearing before the Senate Education committee to give a status update of the education situation in Wajir, Garissa and Mandera Counties, Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi said it would be unfair for students there to take the exams as they are not adequately prepared and ranking them would be difficult.
“The students can pass the exams but they will not do as well as their counterparts from other regions. We cannot set special exams for the students, but we are considering postponing the exams until next year,” said Kaimenyi.
Last week following failure by the CS to honour earlier summons, leaders from Northern Kenya led by Nominated Senator Halima Abdile who doubles up as the vice chairperson of the committee threatened to move to court to block the candidates from sitting the national exams until their concerns were addressed.
Uasin Gishu Senator Isaac Melly had raised questions over how the Education Ministry intended to bridge the gap in education in the region which largely remains marginalised and which had now been widened following refusal by teachers to resume work over the insecurity situation.
Kaimenyi dismissed proposals made that students be given special examinations saying this was impossible as already practical’s for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams had commenced and could not be halted.
Kaimenyi also opposed suggestions that schools be allowed to take in untrained teachers saying this was against the law which required that the ministry provides qualified and fully trained professionals to teach students.
“In fact there are proposals to lower the grade but we also need the best brains to teach the students,” said Kaimenyi.
The CS appeared jointly with Interior and National Coordination Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery who said the government had secured all the learning institutions with armed police officers and were also working with the leadership to come up with tangible solutions to the insecurity situation.
Since the April 2 Garissa University College terror attack, 90 schools within the county have been closed with 909 teachers being interdicted by the Teachers Service Commission for failing to report to school.
“Majority of the schools are operating with a few teachers ranging from one to four in entire schools in Garissa, Mandera and Wajir Counties and in some instances, the one teacher is either untrained or ECDE teacher employed by the county,” said Kaimenyi.
Nkaissery noted that although the security situation had improved, public confidence had yet to be restored as non local teachers and students had fled the region.
Abdile accused the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion of instilling fear among the non-residents and particularly teachers who have since remained adamant that they will not return to Northern Kenya.
A statement by Frankline Choge, representing the Director of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) that the 909 teachers who had failed to report to work had been interdicted angered Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe who said it was unfair to retrench teachers yet they were insecure about the area.
“It is like telling them to go and get killed. To tell a Kenyan to go to a place they feel insecure is unjustified…over the weekend we buried others,” he complained.
He said teachers should be trained and armed to respond to any future attacks adding that although this was bound to be opposed by many, “desperate times called for desperate measures.”
Choge said despite the fact that they had advertised for the positions for those who were sacked, the response was poor and the required numbers are yet to be met.
Kaimenyi called for a concerted effort between leaders at all levels, parents, county administrators, security agencies and education stakeholders to hold forums and sensitise people and assure students and teachers of their safety so as to bring Northern Kenya back to normalcy.