The Ministry of Education has issued new regulations to informal schools requiring them to register afresh, in an effort to improve the poor quality of education offered.
As part of the Basic Education and Training guidelines, quality standards officers will monitor the schools to ensure they adhere to the rules.
Schools will be required to use an approved curriculum and a current school time table, have a variety of co-curriculum activities and enrol their pupils for national examinations.
The regulations further expect the schools to employ at least 30 per cent of trained and registered teachers, while the untrained teachers are required to have a minimum of C plain in KCSE and undergo in-service training within the first three years of their employment.
Education Cabinet Fred Matiang’i on Thursday said the alternative schools must uphold the highest level of quality education by hiring competent teachers and providing an appropriate learning environment for children.
“It is pointless to purport to provide education to poor children when the conditions they get that education [in are] hazardous and the teachers who are employed in the schools are not qualified.”
Dr Matiang’i spoke after making an impromptu visit to Wami and Bridge International Schools in Kawangare, Nairobi, where he observed that the learning environment is unsafe.
He said: “The government will ensure alternative schools comply with standards to ensure quality education as well as the safety and well-being of the children.”
The Cabinet secretary’s remarks follow pressure from a teacher’s union and civil society organisations calling for the closing down of such schools in slum areas, saying they are compromising quality.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion insists the government must close existing legislative and regulatory loopholes and ensure compliance in relation to minimum national standards with respect to the provision of education.
“Registration of schools must be conditional on full compliance with minimum standards,” he said.
However, Bridge International Academies, which operates about 400 schools, disputed Dr Matiang’i’s comments, saying the institution has always offered decent education to poor children and employs competent teachers.
“We have been working as a complementary partner to the Ministry for 8 years now. We have been able to show that even on a very limited budget, a school can deliver a world-class education,” said the schools' co-founder, Ms Shannon May.
She added that the institution has secured Sh80 million in scholarships to ensure their top graduates join top secondary schools.
Ms Susan Njau, the deputy director of quality assurance at the Ministry of Education, said 1.9 million children in Kenya aged six to 13 years old are out of school and another 2.7 million aged 14-17 years have suffered the same fate.