Thursday, October 17, 2013

Gachathi's 'costly' ideas are trashed

The Gacathi team. The Gacathi Report came up with 325 recommendations, some of which were contradictory. The piecemeal adoption of few components by the successor regime of President Moi was a manifestation of the misgivings in its viability. PHOTO|FILE.

The Gacathi team. The Gacathi Report came up with 325 recommendations, some of which were contradictory. The piecemeal adoption of few components by the successor regime of President Moi was a manifestation of the misgivings in its viability. PHOTO|FILE.  NATION

By EMMAN OMARI
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The Gachathi Report was the most controversial in the history of Kenyan education.

It was widely discredited by ordinary Kenyans and university academics alike.

It recommended a confused system that would have meant a heavy financial burden.

Headed by influential Jomo Kenyatta-era Education Permanent Secretary Peter Joseph Gachathi, it recommended a 9:4:3 education system.

Gachathi was so powerful that he would often publicly reverse policies announced by his Minister Taaitta arap Toweett.

So he had his way, on the committee appointed by Mzee Kenyatta in 1975.

The Kenya National Committee on Educational Objectives and Policies (NCEOP) Gachathi headed came up with 325 recommendations, some which contradicted each other.

CONFUSED SYSTEM

First, 9:4:3 was a confused system as it failed to define the boundaries between primary and secondary, even the A-Levels (Form Five and Six) at the time.

His team suggested pupils should have a universal seven-year free primary.

Then Senior 1 and 2 classes would be introduced in all primary schools where parents would pay fees.

The two classes were to be established in all primary schools in 1983 and 1984 in which case Form I and II in the secondary schools would be abolished.

Certificate of Primary Examination (CPE) would be abolished and replaced by Primary Progressive Examination (PPE) at Standard Seven only for the purpose of “guiding and counselling” pupils to be admitted to Sr 1.

The last CPE would end in 1985 to phase out the old system and for PPE to start in 1986.

Meanwhile, the CPE pupils who did it in 1983 would have progressively moved to Senior 2.

They would qualify to be admitted in the first class of Secondary called Senior 3, established in 1985.

FIRST EXAM

The first examination of Senior 6 (same as Form 6 of the time) would have been done in 1988.

While it was definitive about PPE at Standard Seven to go to Sr 1, it left grey areas on how students from Sr 2 would be admitted to Sr 3.

The Report only prescribed aptitude tests and school records for admission to the Four Year Secondary stage.

Admission to university would remain the same as the A-Level examinations done at the time by that class.

A degree would take three years – except Architecture and Medicine which took five years.

Critics also faulted the Gachathi team for failure to define between what was seen at the time as Secondary and Advanced Level stages.

The addition of two classes from secondary to primary was seen to be against the spirit of the Ominde Commission which sought a crash programme for manpower training in a young nation.

TOO EXPENSIVE

Financial analysts said it was too expensive to implement given that all primary schools would require new physical and material facilities for the two classes.

Though nearly all its recommendations were not implemented, there were some which the Moi government implemented in varying degree over time.

The establishment of Commission for Higher Education to regulate universities education was Gachathi’s as well as upgrading Kenyatta University College to a full university.

On technical education, NCEOP recommended the establishment of production lines in all national and village polytechnics as a means of financing themselves.

KNEC

NCEOP also recommended the establishment of the present Kenya National Examination Council being cognisant of the shaky political relations in the East African region that existed at the time.

KNEC was to take over the functions of the EAEC as soon as it was set up and equipped to set exams and supervise.

The Committee, which began its work in December 1975, presented its report to Kenyatta in December 1976.

But it was not until May 1978, three months to Kenyatta’s death that it was made public.

The politics at the time had it that the Cabinet was divided on its financial implications if it was to be adopted.

The piecemeal adoption of few components by the successor regime of President Moi was a manifestation of the misgivings in its viability.

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