Managing the Surge: School Principals Grapple With Increased Form 1 Admissions

The aftermath of the 2023 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams has seen secondary school principals nationwide facing challenges as they accommodate a significantly higher number of Form 1 students. The surge in admissions, a result of the scrapping of the KCPE exams, has forced schools to take drastic measures to cope with the increased student population.

Soaring Enrollment Numbers

With 1,406,557 candidates sitting for the KCPE exams in 2023 – an increase of nearly 173,000 compared to 2022 – schools are grappling with the surge in admissions. The Ministry of Education has emphasized the need to place every student in a secondary school.

Principals’ Perspectives

Nairobi Schools’ Preparedness

Deputy Principal David Mwai of Jamhuri High School in Nairobi acknowledged that they anticipated nearly 50% more learners than in 2023. Despite investing in more desks, beds, and expanding dormitories, congestion is expected. The Infrastructure Fund from the government has aided in acquiring additional resources. The school is converting rooms into boarding facilities and increasing class streams from eight to ten to accommodate the influx. However, challenges arise in adjusting food budgets due to rising costs.

Nairobi School Principal Casper Maina echoed these sentiments, expecting 650 learners, an increase from the 570 admitted in 2023. The institution plans to expand facilities, including more beds and desks. President William Ruto has expressed support for Nairobi School’s expansion plans.

Regional Variances

In Bungoma, Kolanya Boys High School’s Principal Albert Masiolo faces similar challenges, with an increase from 443 to 486 Form 1 students. Despite the pressure, available classrooms built for the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) offer relief. In Busia, Kwangamor High Principal Alfred Sisela expects 500 learners, leveraging unused CBC classrooms. St. Paul’s Igara in Nambale anticipates 150 new learners, with existing CBC classes aiding in addressing space needs.

Government Response and Monitoring

Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang assured that there are sufficient classrooms, thanks to the construction of 10,000 classrooms when Junior Secondary School (JSS) transitioned to secondary schools. Education CS Ezekiel Machogu emphasized the importance of parents embracing day schools, noting that the focus for day schools is on classrooms and tuition fees. The Ministry of Education is closely monitoring the situation as Form 1s continue to report for the new term.

Conclusion

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