Irene Githinji @gitshee
Thousands of parents across the country were left reeling in shock after the Education ministry directed schools which have offered Form One admission letters outside the National Education Management Information System (Nemis) to urgently recall them.
The revocation blow which is bound to add to the bile felt by parents comes as Jogoo House was striving to calm national anxiety over dithering on the rollout of the competency-based curriculum and barely 24 hours after fears of teachers strike threat was dispelled.
Even as Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang maintained that all placements and admissions must be done through NEMIS and that no school should issue any admission outside the system, the move has dire financial implications for parents who might have already shopped for their charges.
Kipsang warned that any letter issued by any school save for sub-county and private schools will not be valid for admission, saying that an audit will be undertaken at the end of the admission process.
He said in the circular dated January 2 issued to Regional Coordinators of Education (RCEs) and County Directors of Education (CDEs) of decision that NEMIS would be used as a central point of admission in order to not only account for every child but also enable the Ministry to get real-time information of Form One students.
Recall of the admission letters may be well intended but its timing adds little but reinforces a dismaying trend where the Ministry has been latching from one misstep to another.
The Ministry caused panic mid last month when the Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed announced that implementation of the competency-based education system would be shelved due to what she termed poor planning, budgetary constraints, lack of training for teachers and inadequate teaching materials.
Matter of urgency
The Ministry made an about turn a week later and announced that plans to implement the new system remained on course without giving details on the way forward. Indeed it prompted President Uhuru Kenyatta to apologise to Kenyans for the confusion over the rollout programme.
A report to the Senate Committee on Education later indicted Amina for ignoring a report by technical officers at the ministry suggesting preparedness to implement the new syllabus.
Yesterday, Kipsang further directed RCEs and CDEs to register in NEMIS, as a matter of urgency, to be able to perform approval of admissions.
“Any school that may have offered admission to students outside NEMIS should urgently recall those joining instructions. An audit will be undertaken at the end of the admission process on the same,” the PS said.
He said an earlier directive of a single Form One selection remains, adding that those who might have changed schools from those they were initially called should ensure they obtain admission letters through the online system.
“If there is any school that has been issuing letters directly, we want to say that they will not be valid for admission. The online approved letters will be activated during admission of students,” the PS stated.
Belio at the same time termed illegal reports that some schools are asking those seeking a replacement to prepay school fees, saying it is punishable by law.
“Action will be taken against school boards that will be found to condone such practice. For the avoidance of doubt, only those in NEMIS list of a particular school and has a system generated joining instructions, will be admitted,” the PS affirmed and that only Form One student admitted through NEMIS system will benefit from Government capitation.
Field officers have also been directed to ensure the 100 per cent transition policy to secondary schools is implemented and that every child secures a place.
However, aggrieved parents took to the social media to express frustrations over modalities the Ministry has adopted, terming them as unfair.
While some parents said their children did not receive any admission letters, others complained that placement to schools did not even consider the candidate’s preference and distance to schools admitted, prompting some parents to seek alternative admissions and went ahead to undertake shopping of the required items ahead of the January 7 opening date.
The complaints notwithstanding, the Ministry has affirmed that the closing date for Form One reporting day remains January 11.
Concerns were raised immediately after the Form One selection was completed, especially among top achievers but the Ministry moved to affirm that the system was fair, accurate and efficient.
Ministry officials pointed out that hundreds of students had over-selected specific schools, surpassing the number they can accommodate.
“For instance, over 7,000 pupils selected Alliance High as the school of choice but it can only accommodate 380 students. There is no difference between a national school in Nakuru and another in Thika since they all offer the same quality, have almost similar equipment and learning facilities,” Director of Basic Education, Habat Abdi said in December.
The Ministry introduced online transmission of admission letters and did away with the issuance of direct letters to students to discourage concealing slots available.