Secondary school principals are bracing themselves for crowded schools once Form One students report on August 2 because they have enrolled in excess of their capacity.
Principals who spoke to Nation blamed the government for failing to expand infrastructure in secondary schools.
Congested schools will deal a big blow to the government’s 100 percent transition policy, which is even more critical now considering the need for social distancing because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Public secondary schools are also broke and understaffed. On Tuesday, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha announced that all the 1,179,192 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidates would get slots in secondary schools.
Every year, the number of KCPE finalists increase. Schools had been asked to declare their capacity on the National Education Information System (Nemis) portal before the Form One selection exercise, but some of them still ended up with more students than their capacity while a few others have been allocated below their capacities.
The CS acknowledged the challenges but appealed to MPs –through the National Government Constituency Development Fund — and other well-wishers to help in expanding schools’ infrastructure.
Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) chairperson Kahi Indimuli warned of crisis if capacities remain limited by 2023 when there will be a double intake as the competency based curriculum rolls out in secondary schools.
“There’s an increase of students across the board. We have not increased the capacity of secondary schools in tandem with the number of earners leaving Standard Eight,” he told Nation.
Shortage of classrooms
In Nyeri County, Kagumo High School has been allocated 398 against a capacity of 285 while Othaya Boys has a capacity of 300 but has been allocated 399.
“We should look at the growth of established schools and upcoming ones as well. When one principal is complaining about crowding, another one is complaining of under-population. We need to strike a balance,” Nyeri County Kessha chairman Cyrus Wahira said.
Kakamega School principal Gerald Orina said 500 learners have been picked to join the institution against a capacity of 380.
“We have 70 teachers and a total enrolment of 1,592 learners. We will be grappling with social distancing in the classrooms but the government policy is clear on 100 per cent transition,” he said.
In Kisii County, principals say there is a serious shortage of classrooms and teachers. At Kereri Girls, the school will receive 551 students, an increase from last year’s 431.
The principal, Ms Teresia Atieno, said there are only 43 classrooms against a population of 2, 600 students. The school requires six more classrooms. A laboratory has been converted into a classroom to accommodate all students.
“We have 79 teachers employed by the government and 26 by the board of management. We have a shortfall of 33 teachers,” she said.
Nduru Boys High School expects to admit 350 students, an increase from last year’s 240. At Oriwo Boys in Rachuonyo North, Homa Bay County, a plan is underway to put up new classrooms and dormitories.
The principal, Mr Ouma Okal, said the school expects to admit up to 600 learners, while the space available can accommodate 500 students.
New dormitory block
In Vihiga County, Chavakali High School is in a race against time to complete construction of a dormitory and a block of classrooms before August.
The principal, Mr John Kuira, said the school can only handle up to 1,600 students, while the population will rise to 2,120.
The new dormitory block has a capacity to hold 1,000 students. The principal said phase one that will be completed by August can accommodate 200 students. The remaining three phases will hold the remaining 800 but funding is a challenge.
At least 546 Form Ones have been selected to join the national school that currently has a population of 1,574.
At Tenwek Boys High school, a national school in Bomet County, the principal, Mutali Chesebe, said 400 Form Ones will be admitted against a capacity of 272.
Richard Sang, the principal at Kaplong Boys High School in Sotik Constituency, said the institution has been allocated 400 students against its capacity of 280 accommodated in six streams.
“We are struggling to accommodate an excess of 120 students with our limited space for additional facilities,” said Mr Sang.
A dormitory with capacity to accommodate 700 students is under construction, but is expected to be completed in a year’s time as the facility is funded by the national government.
Reporting by David Muchunguh, Reginah Kinogu, Benson Amadala, Benson Ayienda, George Odiwuor, Ian Byron and Vitalis Kimutai