A government decree requiring all Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidates to transit to secondary schools has slowed down admissions in technical institutions and polytechnics in Kakamega county.
Dr Joseph Obonyo Indire, a career educationist warns that the 100 per cent secondary school transition drive may cripple enrolment in local polytechnics and kill the institutions, which have seen remarkable growth in the past four years.
In an interview with the People Daily Dr Indire, formerly working at the Kenya Institute of Curricular Development (KICD), says the county polytechnics are already experiencing falling enrolment as a result of the policy.
“The policy is good and makes the national government look good, but in reality it goes against the new curricular, which stresses competence-based training, early identification of talent and student abilities and aligning that to training,” he said.
Indire said polytechnics are a detour for students, who are not good cognitively, to acquire skills. “But for now, it appears some of these children will be forced to waste another four years in secondary schools, learning theory,” he said.
Education records for Western region released at the close of the 2018 Form One reporting /admissions date in January revealed a transition rate above 80 per cent for the four counties of Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga and Busia.
Kakamega recorded the highest transition from primary to secondary at 88.79 per cent followed by Vihiga County at 88.53 per cent, Bungoma county was third at 84.42 per cent.
Some 107,706 candidates who sat for KCPE last year transited to secondary schools across the region against a total of 125,635 available Form One places, 13 percentage points above the transition rate in 2017 after the compulsory 100 per cent secondary transition policy came into force.
Indire, who is the new County Executive Committee member for Education in Kakamega county, says the county government must invest more in equipment and manpower to make institutions under it watch viable and competitive. “County polytechnics have long been associated with grade test certificates.
They must now rise and train students in certificate and diploma coursesso as to compete for Form Four graduates with the government-sponsored technical institutes and private colleges,” he said.
Indire emphasised the importance of skills training, saying it offers hope against shrinking formal employment opportunities. He promised to revamp technical education in the county by equipping polytechnics and re-engineering the courses to make them competitive and market-driven.
He called on county polytechnic managers and the boards to recruit competent staff to attract more students, adding that a look beyond traditional courses — masonry, joinery, carpentry, Jua kali mechanic, wiring was inevitable.