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Saturday, 10 December 2011

All pupils deserve an equal chance to join national secondary schools

Anne kinyanjui

Education and poverty are two issues raising conflicts in our country Kenya. The Kenya certificate of Primary education (KCPE) is over and the results will be due in a few days time towards the end of the year.

Who is or who is not supposed to join national secondary schools is the big question.

The ministry of education will determine this, but we, as education stakeholders have to get involved as well.

Private school parents are considered well up while their counterparts in public schools are viewed as poor.

According to a survey by Laikipia Rural Voices in Laikipia West constituency, 75 percent of parents have opposed the government directive made about one year ago, where primary school pupils from public schools are given more slots in national secondary schools while those from private institutions get few positions.

Those opposed to the government move argue that the parents who sacrificed to educate their children in private academies did so because they wanted them to access quality education that lacks in many public primary schools in the country.

They say that with the introduction of free and compulsory primary education in Kenya, the pupil- teacher ratio has tilted way out of the international standard of one teacher per 40 pupils with some schools having one class of over 100 pupils.

This they say has compromised the quality of education offered at these public schools and has seen many parents sacrifice to enroll their children in public schools in search of quality education to ensure good foundation for the children.

They therefore feel shortchanged when their children who worked as hard as the pupils in public schools to achieve good grades are denied a chance to join national secondary schools, just because they schooled in private institutions.

For the last five years according to statistics, those who usually top in national examinations rarely come from rich backgrounds. They mostly come from poor or average families.

The government should take responsibility of what happens in public schools since the syllabus, the school calendar year and the examination is the same.

It should address the problems of staff shortage and lack of learning facilities in public schools in order to increase the performance of the pupils who school there instead of lowering the national high school entry mark for them while and offering unequal vacancies with those from private schools.

This cannot be a solution and only creates more problems since it will lower competition and tend to make pupils in public institutions more relaxed rather than aggressive in their studies.

All these pupils whether in public or private institutions are Kenyans. They are equal and have equal rights and thus should be given equal opportunities without discrimination.

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