Report of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reform

Written by on August 7, 2023

Professor Henry Onderi is the chairperson of Kisii County Education Board. He is also a lecturer at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University and director of The Milimani Academy.

What is your general view of the report that was submitted by the taskforce to the president?

The whole process has been good. The president put together people with knowledge on matters education. All the members of the taskforce are qualified people and I must commend the president. They went throughout the country to gather views of Kenyans. In Kisii I was at the Kisii University. Some of the views we gave I can see them captured in the report

What is your take on the recommendation that pre-primary, primary and junior school be under one management?

The report recommends that the ministry of education establish a comprehensive school system where all levels of learning from Pre-Primary to Grade 9 are managed as one institution headed by Head of Institution. This is what we proposed from the beginning. They will be managed by the same head and board of management

What challenges are likely to emerge by consolidating management?

Boards of management will have friction because of the believe that those in primary are the ones properly elected. Primary gets less capitation compared to junior school. The chairman and head teacher serve in both levels. Other board members will want to serve in both levels.

Teachers of junior school are required to have diploma and above. It is possible you can find a head teacher who has just a p1 certificate. He or she will be managing people with diploma and degrees and is likely to feel inferior. The same teachers may underrate that head for feeling they are managed by someone below their cadre. We pray that such conflicts will be ironed out by properly inducting boards of management and their roles and taking teachers for seminars

How has primary and junior secondary been sharing infrastructure?

There is disquietment in some sectors. Junior secondary child has been receiving about ksh15, 000 while those of primary about sh1000 per child. The head teacher who handles both levels in some institutions has faced criticism from board members who feel h/she should not serve both levels

We are trying to educate them that all these resources are meant for the good of our children. Junior secondary requires certain mandatory infrastructure such as laboratories and library, the reason they get more resources. Junior school is still faced with a challenge of understaffing.

What is your take on the proposal to reduce learning areas?

The report recommends that learning areas in pre-primary (pp1-pp2) be reduced to five, lower primary (Grade 1-3) not to exceed seven, upper primary( Grade 4-6),  not to exceed  eight, junior school (Grade 7-9) not to exceed nine, senior school(Grade 10-12) not to exceed seven

This is actually a good thing. Our learners have been over-burdened with many subjects. There has been even an overlaps in some subject areas. Learners had been turned into robots, with so many assignments, forcing them do homework up to midnight. It became a challenge even to parents who are supposed to assist them. Some learners could even carry books exceeding their body weight. Teachers were also overworked. The international standards provide that one teacher should handle 16 learners, however the reality is that in Kenya one teacher handles about 40-60 pupils. These leads to overburdening the teachers and consequently lowering quality of education.

What is your position on the recommendation of scrapping categorization of schools from the current nomenclature?

Schools are currently categorized as either national, extra-county, county or sub-county. I am not very comfortable with this recommendation. When this ranking is scrapped, on what criteria will learners be allocated to these various schools? My take is that this ranking should not have been removed. I am waiting to see on what basis they will send a learner to Mang’u, another in Alliance, Kisii School, Riokindo and so forth.

The report recommends that every learner be given a unique identifier from birth that is to be captured in the Kenya Education Management Information System (KEMIS). What does this exactly mean and how safe is the data at a time Kenya is scrupling with data privacy issues?

Currently most births are done in hospitals where they are issued with birth certificates. This makes it easy for ministry of education to provide the unique identifier to every learner once they join school. This will enable the government track the transition level of learners and those dropping out. It will also enable government ensure every child gets capitation. This is why it is critical for every parent to ensure the child has a birth certificate. Kenyans should just trust that the government has put all measures to ensure the data is safe. Yes there has been instances of cyber-attacks, however, the benefits exceed the risks. Just trust the process. You don’t give information, you don’t get the service that is due to you.

Prof Onderi: Photo/Courtesy

Most of the teachers employed to teach junior schools were university graduates trained to teach high school learners. What challenge does this pose and the recommendation to train and retool them, how will it assist?

This is not something new. We’ve been having in-service training. You are retrained because there is some change in curriculum or policy. Bachelor of education courses were implemented on a crash program. There was a shortage of teachers in those years. You are supposed after finishing being trained on content, you go for post-graduate diploma in education for another year to give you the practical aspects of teaching. There are teachers who enrolled for education for the sake of it, not because they wanted to. Going through the post-graduate diploma and internship for one year will enhance the professional aspect of a teacher. I strongly support this recommendation. The teachers after undergoing refresher courses will be able to adapt. The high school environment they were used to indeed would be advanced, but they have to cope. They need to uphold professional ethics and respect one another regardless of the level of education.

What is your take on the recommendation for every learner to go through National youth service before joining tertiary institutions, and do mandatory community service afterwards

I really support this. I went through the process for three months. That training has enabled me forbear difficult situations. The training gives one practical reality in life. The rigorous training will give our learners necessary discipline and life skills to enable them go through life.

The report recommends for increased funding to learners. What is your take?

Indeed the cost of everything has changed upwards. It is practical that the government has considered increasing the allocation per learner. The implementation may be a challenge. Already with the current rates, the funds are prone to delays that affect delivery of service in schools.

What is your comment on recommendation of the report in regard to university education?

Learners have been categorized into various groups. The vulnerable will have up to 92% scholarship of the required money. The government also gives them a loan of 18%.

The second category is the extremely needy. These would be orphans for instance. They are given a scholarship of 70% and a loan of 30%

The needy who fall under the third category are given a scholarship of 30%, and loan of 40%. The parent pays a little.

The less needy will be given 38% scholarship and loan of 53% as the parent foots 7% of the required money. Indeed the cost of university education is going to be very exorbitant, but the government has also put measures to cushion parents. Learners are advised to correctly fill their details when joining tertiary institutions



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