Plans are underway for the construction of more than 20,000 classrooms to ensure a smooth transition from primary to a junior secondary school under the competency-based curriculum (CBC). Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha said yesterday the classrooms will ease congestion due to the 100 per cent transition policy introduced in 2018.
“Our aim is to improve school infrastructure and plans are ongoing to construct 20,044 classrooms between December and April next year. I also appreciate what the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is doing,” Prof Magoha told the parliamentary committee on education.
The committee chaired by Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua had invited the CS to explain why the government is yet to resolve the infrastructure challenge in schools.
Subukia MP Samuel Gachobe said many schools are congested, raising doubts about the quality of education. “In the last Form One placement exercise, schools received a double capacity of the students they can hold,” he said.
Many schools have had to improvise classrooms by using tents and other temporary structures to accommodate students. As the CBC pioneer class – now at Grade five – prepares to join a senior secondary school in 2023, there will be a need for more classrooms.
Prof Magoha said the ministry has been disbursing infrastructure funds to schools each term to boost facilities as the new curriculum takes shape.
“As the CBC class prepares to proceed to junior secondary, the government is making all plans to expand schools,” he said.
In the CBC task force report launched in February, the committee recommended that some of the junior secondary classes be domiciled in primary schools.
MPs also questioned the criteria the ministry uses in disbursing infrastructure funds to schools.
Prof Magoha said the funds channeled to each institution and the total number of schools that benefit depends on budgetary allocations.
Any school that needs additional funding for infrastructure is required to apply for grants. “Needs assessment and quality assessment recommendations by officials form a basis for such grants,” said the CS.
Prof Magoha also said the government will continue supplying desks and chairs to secondary schools.
“The distribution of 622,357 desks, lockers, and chairs are to be supplied to public primary and secondary schools under the economic stimulus programme was a success, and we plan to continue,” he said.
Samburu East MP Jackson Lentoi said when improving infrastructure and distributing desks, the ministry should consider accessing needy cases.
“For example, most primary schools in Samburu do not have enough desks as pupils have to sit on the floor and under trees. In other places, the desks supplied to secondary schools are not being used,” he said.
MPs asked the ministry to consider centralising the purchasing of school uniforms to stop principals from imposing extra charges. They often make it mandatory for parents and guardians to purchase uniforms and mattresses from certain outlets at higher than market rates.
Basic Education Principal Secretary Dr. Julius Jwan said headteachers lack powers to prescribe specific suppliers.
“The Basic Education Regulations, 2015 prohibit any institution from prescribing a specific supplier of school uniforms or any other materials for the parent or guardian,” he said.
Dr. Jwan said the government will take action against those colluding with specific suppliers to exploit parents.
Prof Magoha also said the process of disbursing funds for the second term has started and assured MPs that schools will receive the money on time.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION