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Citizen Weekly

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

MP pleads with ministry to extend term one dates

The Education ministry has been urged to extend dates for the first term to recover time lost during the two-week national teachers’ strike. Murang’a Women’s Representative Wanjiru Chege said students have lost two weeks “which should be recovered at all costs even if it means shortening the April holiday period.”
Speaking in Maragua on Sunday, the MP who is also the parliamentary Education Committee chairperson said the first term of the year is crucial in the schools’ academic calendar as some of the students join school at the time and also teachers try to draw up schedules for covering the syllabus.
Wanjiru proposed extending the term by one week and reducing second term’s period by one week to cover the days lost in the strike. “It is only public schools that were affected since students in private schools went on with learning during the teachers’ strike,” she said.
Wanjiru also urged Education Cabinet secretary Prof Jacob Kaimenyi to give directives on how much school fees public secondary schools should charge and not leave the matter to school management boards.
She said although a task force on Kenya’s education system, chaired by former Education assistant minister Kilemi Mwiria, had submitted its report “there is still no clear information on how much public secondary schools are supposed to charge as fees.”
“The Cabinet secretary should ensure clear guidelines on school fees that reduces the current numerous levies charged by school managers,” she said. She warned school heads against arbitrary increase of school fees saying “it could deny many students a right to an education as enshrined in the Constitution.”
The Women’s Rep said the Sh13,000 subsidy for each student from the State should guarantee each Kenyan child an education. Meanwhile, it was not business as usual at Kagwathi Primary School in Tetu, Nyeri County as the parents demonstrated demanding the removal of the school’s head teacher.
The parents, carrying twigs and chanting slogans, claimed school funds have been misused and the institution needs fresh leadership to turnaround its performance. They claimed the school has been demanding money from parents despite the free primary education programme.
According to Ann Wanjiru, a parent, the parents are forced to buy exercise books for their children and pay a monthly charge of Sh145 each pupil to cater for teachers’ welfare. “We do not know of free primary education programme in this school because we buy everything for our children and also pay additional levy to cater for the welfare of teachers,” she said.
The parents also accused the head teacher of encouraging child labour at the school by forcing pupils to pick coffee at the school farm “yet proceeds from the crop do not benefit us or our children.”
“Our children are the ones who pick coffee and the money from the sale of the crop does not benefit the institution but goes into pockets of a few people in the school management committee,” she said.