MP Urges ‘Tiny’ Slum Academies to be merged
Dagoreti MP Mrs Beatrice Elachi is concerned about the high number of informal schools in her area of jurisdiction.
While attending a public forum, she wondered why there were schools with only fifty to seventy students and asked whether this was the right situation for the school-going children.
In a recent interview with Saturday National. MP Elachi implored the schools to be merged and form a consortium. In her view, this will put the learners in an environment with more children and hence a more hands-on approach can be taken with the Competency-Based Curriculum.
The MP complained that these schools are growing due to the how expensive public is and the problem of overcrowding in those schools.
It was reported that some primary school heads were charging up to Kes. 8,000 to admit a child to public schools. Coupled with the money required for meals and other expenses, this puts parents in a difficult place.
The informal schools made of iron sheets are seen as a cheap alternative to the expenses of public schools in addition to being closer to the residences of most parents.
Elachi saw these schools built with iron sheets as a ‘joke; a bad joke’ and she supported only schools that have only 200 students and good infrastructure.
She reiterated how important it is to have a good environment for the school and not put schools in areas close to busaa and chang’aa brewing areas.
The government sees the informal schools as similar to village polytechnics and are meant for young learners who missed out on admission to conventional schools. They are supposed to be teaching basic reading and writing skills and imparting technical skills like tailoring and carpentry.
According to now a retired official of the Ministry of Education Dr Onesmus Kiminza who was charged with policy-making, some of these schools in urban areas is low-cost academies that pretend to be non-formal schools.
Dr Kiminza said that he does not believe that any school should be judged by its learner population since a school is defined as a place where children go to receive an education.
He added that it in the non-formal curriculum, a child can finish their education in four years because the learners there are mature children who know what they want.
He said that the concept of a school and its evaluation is a complex issue that raises many questions. He added that a school should be judged only on the bases of its learner population.
In his view, a school is a place where children assemble to receive an education regardless of the population. The quality of instruction and the qualification of the teacher is also an important factor that needs consideration.
He believes that governments need to conduct a crackdown on illegal levies in public schools to ensure that children sincerely receive free education. This is because when public schools get more expensive that the low-cost ‘mabati’ schools, parents often opt for the latter.
Dr Kiminza said that setting up schools that offer only literacy and numeracy and technical skills in informal settlements can help those learners who drop out to have at least some knowledge to help them to earn a living.
However, according to a recent interview conducted by Saturday Nation, many parents are in support of private schools regardless of their size.