Kenyan parents who fail to send their children to school risk landing in jail for a term not exceeding one year, or having to pay a Sh100,000 fine. This is after Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo forwarded the new regulations in accordance with the new Basic Education Act last week to the Attorney General for editing before they are gazetted. The act became law early this year after President Kibaki assented to it.
The new rules state among others that;
- The school board of management in consultation with parents, students and teachers associations shall discuss disciplinary measures to be taken against a student.
- Only the county education board can order the expulsion of a student and in such a case, it’s expected to recommend the student for admission to an institution that specializes in behavior correction.
- Only the board of management can declare a school closed in case of mass indiscipline, after which it’s required to report to the county education board.
- Affected students and their parents are entitled to a hearing by the board before any disciplinary measure is taken.
- The education appeals tribunal will be the final appeal authority for aggrieved parties.
THE BASIC EDUCATION ACT
The Basic Education Act guarantees every child the right to free and compulsory basic education and unlike in the past where basic education only covered primary level, it now starts from pre-school all the way to form four.
Suspensions and expulsions have been common especially in public schools were thy have been viewed as the best disciplinary measures even though experts have maintained that guidance and counseling could prove a better way forward. Some schools heads have been notorious for expelling students without following all the proper channels and with such law in place, this will be a thing of the past.
Caning was also a common disciplinary measure until Corporal punishment in Kenyan schools was banned through a Kenya Gazette notice on March 13, 2001 by the then Education Minister, Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka.
EDUCATION AND TRANSFORMING SOCIETY
Retiring President Kibaki’s government introduced free primary education in the country in 2003 but this notwithstanding at least a million children are reported to be still out of school, a factor that has been attributed mainly to parents’ reluctance to send their children to school.
Education perhaps is the best way to transform our society and studies have proved that children who are highly educated are better placed in the society compared to those who lack even the basic education.
“Children who drop out face a bleak future”, the Director of Basic Education, Leah Rotich, said back in December, 2012. “They are more likely to be illiterate, unemployed and will live in poverty”.
Of the 9.4 million pupils currently in public and private institutions the dropout rate is about 4.6 percent annually.
The future structure and wealth of Kenyan society will be directly related to the impact that future generations have and this in turn will be very largely dependent on the level of education that they achieve. It is therefore crucial for the government to mandate parents to educate their children as part of their plans to upgrade educational standards.