The Ministry of Education launched a probe after reports that some parents were colluding with schools to register Grade 7 pupils for the 2023 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams.
The 2023 KCPE test will be the last such national exam as Kenya transitions to the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) education system.
Kenyans.co.ke spoke to an education expert to determine why Grade 7 parents desperately want their sons and daughters to be part of the last batch of the 8-4-4 education system.
Muthoni Ouko, an education rights advocacy specialist and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tunza Mtoto Coalition revealed that the blame was solely on the shoulders of the government.
“We have a problem as a country because we have not fully realized that education is a public good and is not meant for sale.
“The government has not internalized this idea and put the necessary effort to make sure that all Kenyans get their constitutional right for access to education,” she detailed where the problem started.
Why parents are rushing to register for KCPE 2023?
Muthoni explained that the government had not invested enough to Junior Secondary Schools to ensure that students got quality education.
“The recent announcement by Kenya Kwanza government that they have converted primary schools to host JSS was made without caring what infrastructure and facilities were available.
“Additionally, there was a promise to deploy 15,000 which is yet to be actualized,” the Tunza Mtoto Coalition CEO revealed why public JSS were ill-equipped.
With the public JSS ill-equipped, parents were wary of letting their children go through such a program.
“Education is a public good but the children belong to individual households who are responsible for what the children become.
“No responsible Kenyan would sit down and watch the government mismanage the potential of their child without them wanting to do something,” she explained to Kenyans.co.ke what drove the parents towards KCPE registration.
Who are the parents registering grade 7 pupils for KCPE?
Muthoni explained that the government’s negligence had stratified households based on income levels.
“Those parents who are able to take their children to equipped private JSS have done so because they are assured of quality education under the CBC program.
“Parents who have their children in underfunded and undeveloped primary schools are the ones rushing to register for KCPE because they cannot afford school fees charged by private schools,” she explained.
According to Muthoni, parents are trying to maneuver the system because they do not have the money or wherewithal to join private schools but they still feel the desperation and confusion and they do not want to subject their children to that.
What should be done going forward?
Muthoni opines that the government should take responsibility of the confusion and mess in public junior secondary schools.
“Instead of the government loosely saying that they are investigating, they should first research why parents are willing to have their kids skip a whole year of study.
“It shows that the parents know challenges the Ministry officials do not know,” she remarked.
She faulted the officials from the Ministry of Education for being detached from the situation on the ground and issuing circulars at the comfort of their offices.
“Children are not statistics, they are the future of the nation and that is why a lot should be demanded from the government.
“The government should not investigate with a view of punishing, but with a view of knowing how they can allay parent’s fear about the quality of education at public junior secondary schools,” she advised the Ezekiel Machogu-led docket.