Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi has said his ministry is in the process of carrying out major reforms with 11 action plans already at advanced stages of implementation to ensure the wave of school fires recorded in the past does not hit the nation in the future.
Matiangi who presided over a function at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) on Friday where a task force appointed to look into the cases of fire reported in learning institutions in 2016 presented a report, said no single recommendation will be left out in the implementation process.
“We have developed a predictable school timetable in the country. Changing school timetables up and down is not sensible and no reasonable people should behave that way,” Matiangi said affirming that the schedule will remain intact.
According to the CS, the ministry has identified a number of action plans to ensure that all the twenty-nine recommendations outlined in the report are implemented forthwith.
Matiangi said the ministry has appointed and posted county directors of education to enhance supervision of schools at the grassroots.
He noted that a structure of regional coordinators of education similar to the one at the Interior ministry has since been established with eight regional education bosses required to coordinate with their counterparts from Interior.
“By the time schools were burning last year, we did not have a substantive County Director of Education in any county because of so many court cases we had objecting that,” he said.
The CS however ruled out the appointment of more quality assurance officers saying the over 900 officers available at the moment are adequate to ensure institutions of learning are monitored.
The ministry is however proposing the scaling down of the membership of school management boards from the current seventeen to nine to provide for a more effective way of managing schools and cut down on cost.
“Principals of our schools spend time romancing 17 people in January and imagine each of these people are demanding to be paid allowances or refunded transport,” he said arguing that the number was untenable.
“We want to have a small number of people and we’re prescribing qualifications so that we don’t just have good villagers but we have people who can add value as it were,” he noted.
According to the highlights of the report which will be publicized after being presented to the President, indiscipline, peer pressure, alcohol, drug and substance abuse, mismanagement, congestion in dormitories, too many exams, political interference, and lack of intelligence gathering contributed a great deal to incidences of fire reported in schools.
Other motivating factors include ethnic and tribal interference in management of schools where parents demanded to have principals and head teachers who hail from their communities and what was described as over empowerment of student leaders.
The report recommends the detribalization of learning institutions and phasing down of powers conferred upon school prefects to minimize on the cases of harassment and bullying.
The report also recommends issuance of title deeds to schools that have none and erection of perimeter walls to keep off intruders who were blamed for setting up fire in some schools.
In order to solve the congestion problem in boarding facilities, the ministry of education intends to spend at least Sh6 billion in construction of new facilities.
The function was also attended by Principal Secretaries Prof Collete Suda (State Department of Higher Education), Dr Belio Kipsang (State Department of Basic Education) and Dr Dinah Mwinzi (State Department of Vocational, Technical and Training Education).
Vice Chancellors present included Prof Peter Mbithi of the University of Nairobi.