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Government bans ranking of schools by exams

The ranking of schools in national examinations has been banned to eliminate cut-throat competition among institutions.

Form Four and Standard Eight candidates will also not be ranked on the basis of their scores. The new rules come into effect with those who sat the exams this year.

The new policy is expected to end unethical practices by teachers in the rush for top positions.

Form One selection will now be determined by quotas, performance, affirmative action and the candidates’ school choices, according to a circular sent to schools this week.

This effectively means that candidates from public primary schools will secure more places in the national and top county schools compared to those from private schools.

“Ranking of schools and students on the basis of national examination results, therefore, is discontinued with immediate effect,” says Education Principal Secretary Bellio Kipsang in the circular copied to county and district education officials.

However, the circular does not prescribe an alternative criteria to be used in gauging performance of schools and their candidates. It only spells out a raft of new guidelines and regulations aimed at improving school management and lowering learning costs.

The directive brings to an end a tradition in which national exams have been used as the only tool for grading schools.

UNETHICAL ROUTINE

The ranking method has been cited as a leading cause of unethical routine by some schools where bright candidates are registered in different streams from the rest to maintain top slots in the national list.

Some schools have also been forcing weak learners to repeat classes while registering the weak ones in satellite schools.

Dr Kipsang says the government will conduct regular visits to schools to see if the new rules are being followed.

The rules are a blow to private schools because they retain the contentious Form One selection formula that favours pupils from public schools in admissions to the elite national schools.

The method has been challenged  several times in court by private schools whose pupils have missed out on national school places despite attaining high marks in the examinations.

The formula is based on the notion that learners in private schools enjoy access to superior teaching materials and enough teachers as opposed to their counterparts in public schools.

“The number to be admitted from either public or private primary schools will be proportionate to the candidature in either category,” Dr Kipsang says in the regulations to be enforced in January.

The rules also put a stop to conversion of day schools into boarding schools unless approval is obtained from the Cabinet Secretary.

County Education Boards have also been ordered not to register any new schools without clearance from the Cabinet Secretary.

New schools will only be sanctioned on the basis of their viability as determined by their proximity to other schools and the number of people in the area.

Public boarding secondary schools will have at least three streams with a class size of not more than 45 students each.

CLASS SIZE

“Day schools already established in immediate neighbourhoods and have not raised a minimum of two streams with a class size of  45 that makes them viable will be merged except in arid areas where those with a single stream of as low as 25 in a class will be considered.”

The regulations are from recommendations of a task force on secondary school fees, chaired by former assistant Education minister Kilemi Mwiria.

In line with the task force’s recommendations, Dr Kipsang says public schools will be classified into three categories for the purpose of disbursement of grants, boarding, day and special schools. But for selection of Form One candidates, public schools will be classified into national, extra-county, county, sub-county and special.

As a result of the classifications day schools will be expected to charge annual fees of Sh11,105, boarding Sh38,969 and special schools Sh22,830.  The government is expected to provide a subsidy of Sh12,780 per student per year for the regular schools and Sh32,605 for special schools.

The circular also asks the Teachers Service Commission to review the work load of teachers and cautions against employing many teachers on contract, a trend that leads to high learning costs.
“This will remove the burden of hiring board of management teachers from parents,”  the rules say.

The government has also ordered the establishment of coordinating units at all national, county and sub- county levels to maintain a data bank of all bursary providers, names of beneficiaries and the schools they are enrolled in.

The number of non-teaching staff to be hired by schools, qualifications and salaries will be guided by the school sizes.

“Essential support staff should be employed on such terms as may be determined by board of management in consultation with the ministry of education, science and technology,” Dr Kipsang says in the circular.

School employees hired to manage school income generating activities will be paid strictly from the proceeds of the programmes and not from school levies or any other source.

Dr Kipsang says students should be encouraged to carry out basic tasks such as gardening and cleaning as part of instilling a sense of responsibility in them. The rules call for the elimination of laundry services in schools to give students the opportunity to develop life skills.

FINANCIAL REGULATIONS

“All education institutions are instructed to strictly adhere to the establishment provided for under each size and type of school and where possible endeavour to engage a smaller workforce by recruiting multi-skilled staff,” says the PS.

Headteachers are required to ensure prudent use of school resources and adhere to laid down financial regulations detailed in the handbook of financial management for secondary schools and colleges and public finance management Act.

“The expenditure of public funds will be subjected to monitoring and audit by relevant government agencies. Schools must promote social audit by stakeholders such as parents, teachers, non- teaching staff and students to enhance transparency and accountability. Financial reports must be a standing agenda of all BOM and PTA meetings,” the guidelines say, adding that schools must submit annual financial reports to county education directors, sub-county directors and heads of school audit units on quarterly basis.

The PS says to ensure accountability and smooth implementation of free day secondary education, all schools will operate several accounts with three signatories.
He said schools should run a tuition account for procurement of teaching and learning materials, an operation account for daily operations, a boarding account for funds paid in by households for boarding-related expenses and a personal emolument account for non-teaching staff service gratuity.

According to the rules, each account should have a separate cash book and all school fees structures applicable to boarding schools should reflect the government capitation grant and individual student allocation.

The guidelines also require all schools to acknowledge receipt of funds by returning an official receipt to the principal secretary for education.

Special needs secondary schools will be expected to have one transcriber per secondary school for visually and hearing challenged, one house mother or father for every 20 students in a dormitory and one teacher aid for every 10 students.
According to the task force between 2008 and 2013, the number of schools increased from 5, 600 to 7, 325 with enrolment increasing from 1.4 million to 2.1 million students.

The government spends Sh67.2 billion on capitation grants, teachers’ salaries, bursaries and grants which is 39 per cent of the cost of secondary education while families cover 61per cent.