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Private schools blame State for exodus of pupils

Thousands of pupils have quit private schools over the last three years, a new report reveals.

Enrolment in private primary schools dropped from 51.3 per cent in 2011 to 39.6 per cent last year, the 2013 annual report on education by education lobby Uwezo Kenya, shows.

Beatrice Maina, the owner of Good Shepherd Academy in Githurai is contemplating shutting down after two-thirds of her students transferred to public schools.

“Since we opened for the first term, 120 pupils have transferred from the institution and I am seriously contemplating shutting down the institution because it is becoming economically unsustainable,” said Maina.

The exodus from private to public primary schools has been blamed on the formula used to pick students for secondary schools, which favours candidates from public schools.

Good Sheoherd Academy, which has been losing pupils to public institutions for the past two years, now has a population of less than 100 students, with the proprietor saying the recent Form One selection was the heaviest blow so far.

Equal opportunities

This year, private schools were allocated 25 percent of 16,918 slots in the country’s 78 national schools.

Private schools, under the umbrella Kenya Private Schools Association (Kepsa), have raised the alarm that the Form One selection criteria will kill private schools if not revised to accord equal opportunities to candidates regardless the schools they are coming from.

“We have received complaints over massive transfer of students from Standard Seven to public schools,” said Kepsa Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndoro.

“The current exodus from private schools will only escalate. Parents want higher chances for their children to join national schools and they stand a better chance in public schools,” said the Knut’s Nairobi Branch chief Hesbon Ogola.

According to the 2013 report, Nairobi West District has the highest number of pupils in private schools at 55.3 percent while Nairobi East has the least number of pupils in private schools at 39.6 percent.

Nairobi North district has 44.6 percent of children in private schools and Westlands district has 43.2 percent of pupils attending private schools.

Following the trend, Nairobi private schools have called for the scraping of the ministry of education’s quota system in Form One selection terming it discriminatory.

Ndoro further termed the quota system introduced in 2011 counterproductive, saying it would frustrate the whole education system by undermining transition from primary to secondary learning.