Primary schools could emerge as the new academic powerhouses if proposal to merge nursery, primary and the newly established junior school to form one big unit, is adopted.
In new suggestions by the education reforms team, the single unit encompassing all the three levels will be known as Comprehensive School headed by a principal.
The principal will be assisted by teachers who will head nursery, primary and junior schools and they will be referred to deputy principals.
If adopted, the move will lead to expansion of current primary schools in terms of population of learners, teachers, infrastructure and resource allocation.
Presently, according to the Education Ministry data, the institutions accommodated at least 10 million learners from Class One to Class eight.
The changes will see the number of classes grow from previous eight to 11; that is two for pre-primary, six classes for primary schools and three classes for junior school.
Subsequently, this will mean a swell in number of learners. And in addition to overseeing class one to eight as was the case under 8-4-4, the new head (principal) will oversee operations across the three levels of school. This also means the principal will coordinate and oversee millions of shillings pumped into the institutions.
The Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms has recommended that nursery children also get capitation from the government.
In addition to this, the team has also proposed a review of capitation per child.
The team proposes that the principal be a signatory to all school bank accounts from pre-primary, primary and junior school.
In the comprehensive schools, funds will be pooled from capitation from government, a minimum essential package, parental contribution, and sponsors.
Unlike in 8-4-4 the government funding to the institutions will be channeled in two levels; one is capitation which will be given depending on number of learners in a school, which the team proposes be revised upwards.
The other is proposal to provide a flat-rate fund — varying on the level of school — that will be referred to as a minimum essential package.
Under the revised capitation, each nursery school pupil will receive Sh1,170 from the government yearly.
Each primary school child will receive Sh2,238 annually while those in junior secondary schools will get Sh15,043. Each learner in senior secondary schools will be allocated some Sh22,527 yearly. Special needs learners will get an additional funding at Sh604 for nursery schools and another Sh3,624 for primary school children.
Special needs learners in junior secondary and senior school will get additional Sh10,000.
The comprehensive school in public institutions will be mainly funded by the government resources but also will have other support avenues to channel resources.
Analysis reveals the team’s intention to expand the mechanism and sources of funding learning institutions.
Then, there is the minimum essential package. This will cater for school expenses that arise regardless of the population in the institutions; and will be essential in cushioning institutions with limited population.
The essential package will be distributed as follows; Sh70,200 for pre-primary, Sh536,880 for primary education, Sh1,632,120 for junior school, Sh1,890,000 for senior school and Sh2,060,940 for special needs education.
This means, a comprehensive school will get a cumulative Sh2,239,200 as the minimum essential package.
The minimum essential package will cover financial obligations in schools and will be the same for all institutions regardless of the population in schools.
This was found necessary as some schools are unable to enroll the required number of learners to operate optimally.
“This makes it difficult for them to raise sufficient funds through capitation to cover for fixed and variable costs such as BOM expenses, postage, rental boxes, telephone and internet connectivity in administration and teaching,” the report reads.
Another critical channel to fund the comprehensive school will be direct household contribution from well off families to reduce pressure on government resources; this will be referred to as the equity-based funding model.
This is similar to the system currently adopted under the new university funding model where the government supports education of learners from low-income households through scholarships while those who are from less needy families get more loans to be repaid after they complete university.
It also is one of the proposals by former education Cabinet Secretary the late George Magoha to address the shortfall of funding learning institutions.
It also emulates the traditional practice of the prestigious Starehe Boys Centre where the rich pay higher fees and learners from low-income households pay little to nothing.
However, neither the amount of household contribution to be met by the ‘well-off’ families nor the mode of identifying the families to pay has been determined by the reforms team.
To ensure prudence in the use of the massive allocation the team wants the ministry of education to employ accountants and accounting clerks.
The comprehensive schools, if all goes as planned will see a rapid increase in the number of teachers in the institutions.
TSC data shows that currently, there are 44,496 teachers in nursery schools domiciled in primary schools;
In primary schools, there are 223,296 teachers. The Teachers Service Commission projections published in the draft report indicates that the immediate demand for Junior Secondary schools is 70,430; that number is expected to rise to 120,923 by 2024.
This means the number of teachers in comprehensive schools by 2024 could shoot up to 390,000.
With the ongoing recruitment of 20,000 interns, the human resource under the principal will be huge.
This is higher than the current number of teachers in both primary and secondary schools currently which stands at 347,000 teachers.
For infrastructure development, the team recommends that inside two years, ministry of education should do a renovation of underutilised and under enrolled classrooms in Primary schools in urban and rural areas to serve learners in Junior school.
The team recommends that in the initial five years, Sh4,000 of the capitation be provided per learner to enable infrastructural development.
This will be used to construct laboratories, extra classes, and other needed learning facilities under junior school; this, the team proposes it be done in two years.
In the same period, the report wants the ministry to renovate underutilized and under enrolled classrooms in primary schools in urban and rural areas to serve learners in Junior School.
The team also proposes in six months, the ministry of education to devolve infrastructure development fund to the constituencies.
This, the team notes will minimize bottlenecks in the delivery of infrastructure development.
The team also proposes a framework to jumpstart digital literacy in the comprehensive school signifying a revival of the Digital Literacy Programme project.
The DLP project was adopted as a flagship project of the Uhuru Kenyatta government in 2013.
At the programme’s inception in 2016, the Uhuru-led regime boasted of supplying 95 percent of learners in Class 1 with tablets but the utilisation has remained poor since then.
In 2019, the government shifted focus from laptop distribution, instead opting to build computer laboratories for 23,000 public primary schools.