By Winnie Kabintie
Despite efforts made by the government to realize 100 percent transition from primary to secondary schools, poverty is still locking out many students from joining secondary schools and the situation has been made worse by exorbitant costs of school uniform.
Over the years, cartels working in cohorts with school heads have made school uniforms such a taxing affair to parents and in most cases, the cost of the uniforms is even more than the school fees.
As seen in one list of school uniform issued to parents by a school in Kiambu county, parents are required to buy several items in different quantities e.g., three skirts and five pairs of socks among other items and sets Sh 18, 535 as the total cost of the uniform. The school further declares that the uniform will be provided in school after a banker’s Cheque is made to a supplier, whose details are indicated at the bottom of the list.
The school goes further to direct that parents pay an additional Sh 400 for labeling of the school uniform.
Last Week as the official form one admissions kicked off, the media was awash with headlines of students who reported to their respective schools with empty school boxes (zero school requirements including uniform).
One such student is Levis Otieno, who got admission to join Kanga High School in Migori County. He had scored 391 marks in KCPE at Pala Kojwanga primary school in Karachuonyo, Homabay county and he was not ready to let poverty stand between his dream of joining high school. He reported to the school with only an empty box and two bars of soap.
Other than school uniform, students joining form one in boarding schools are required to have other requirements such as stationery, personal effects bedsheets, buckets, mattresses, blankets, just to mention a few.
The government has been trying to achieve a 100 percent transition and last year, The Ministry of Education said that there has been an 85 percent enrolment in secondary schools for pupils who sat for the 2018 KCPE, a 7 percent improvement from the previous year.
Indirect Costs Of Secondary Education
Former education Education Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohammed had last year cited indirect costs of secondary education and extreme poverty in households alongside teenage pregnancies and early marriages as some of the major challenges that have hindered the attainment of 100 percent form one enrollment.
Same School Uniform
Last year, Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang made public a proposal by the Kenya Parents Association (KPA) proposing that all schools adopt a standard uniform for students as one of the measures to deal with the school uniform extortion.
The idea is to have the same uniform and fabric and Kipsang, who was then speaking at the Rivatex Mills in Eldoret said that the Moi University-owned firm will be used to manufacture the uniforms.
We are not sure that having students wear the same uniform is a solid plan but what we are certain of is that It’s high time the ministry of education comes up with drastic measures to deal with school uniform cartels otherwise the country’s ambitious plan to guarantee education for all will remain a far-fetched dream.
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION RECORDS 85 PER CENT FORM 1 ENROLLMENT