Even as the Education ministry continues to receive plaudits for restoring integrity in national examinations, there are a few things the Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i and Principal secretary Belio Kipsang need to address urgently.
First, some Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam candidates are yet to receive their results almost two weeks after they were released. Secondly, despite, the ministry’s warnings, there are primary schools still charging Standard One admission fees.
Thirdly, with the New Year just around the corner, parents are worried about the inflated school fees they are forced to fork out after virtually all secondary schools defied the government fees guidelines.
The ministry pushed Form One selection from Friday last week to tomorrow, to ostensibly ensure the exercise encompasses extra-county schools. But I beg to differ. I think the exercise was pushed forward to allow the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) to sort out the mess of missing marks.
The council said the marks were missing because some answer sheets had no names or index numbers. Such were marked ‘XX’. While those bearing ‘AB’ meant that the candidate did not sit the exams.
However, most affected candidates claimed they sat the exams. I have heard accounts from parents whose children are yet to receive their marks. They say they are still in the dark on when and how the issue will be addressed, despite having been promised that the mess would be sorted out by last Friday.
This begs many questions. Did the ministry and Knec rush the marking and announcement of exam results without doing due diligence hence the confusion? Affected students risk missing out their secondary schools of choice as Form One selection gets underway. Already some of affected candidates, especially from poor backgrounds, have missed out the opportunity to apply for scholarships from various organisations.
For instance, the application deadline for Equity Bank’s Wings to Fly scholarships lapsed on Friday. On the Standard One admission fee issue, I have learnt that some public primary schools in Nairobi are asking parents to pay Sh5,000 to be given application forms for admission.
I informed PS Kipsang of the same and, in my presence, he asked the Director General Leah Rotich to investigate the issue. I am yet to know the outcome of the investigations but I know parents are still paying the illegal levies. This trend is not only in Nairobi, and the ministry should address it seriously.
Finally, the ministry in the past two years has failed to rein in secondary schools contravening government fee guidelines. What next for learners? Sadly, again, parents and guardians with students joining Form One will be hit with unreasonable demands from schools to buy items that their children may not need, or buy from selected vendors at exorbitant prices. I am ready to eat humble pie on this one, if Dr Matiang’i and his PS do the right thing and ensure schools follow the government fee guidelines. firstname.lastname@example.org