The annual secondary school headteachers’ conference opens in Mombasa on Monday and runs for the rest of the week.
The conference, which has become a key event in the education calendar, is being held at a critical moment when the sector is going through fundamental changes.
First, the country is about to scrap the 8-4-4 education system that has been in place for more than 30 years, and which has largely been faulted for being burdensome to learners and unable to equip them with practical skills and knowledge to make them creators and innovators rather than copycats. Conversely, a new system that seeks to harness learners’ potential and shifts emphasis from rote learning to acquisition of practical skills.
Secondly, the education sector is grappling with the question of quality and the credibility of national examinations.
Until last year, the examinations had been thoroughly compromised.
A web of cartels running from the Kenya National Examinations Council to the schools had taken over and messed up the system.
Cheating became the norm and grades were routinely changed at a fee, making a mockery of the entire education system.
With the strict measures to stem the vice, the grades dropped dramatically last year and put most schools on the spot.
Scrutiny on the performance of the schools will be intensified this year and the principals are under pressure to deliver credible results.
Thirdly, secondary schools are facing a serious funding crisis as the fees guidelines have proved unrealistic and subventions from the Ministry of Education are not only inadequate, but also irregular.
While fees must be affordable, there is a need to determine reasonable rates that enable schools to operate.
And, discipline, safety and the welfare of students are increasingly becoming pivotal.
A recent investigation into safety in schools revealed horrifying facts, putting the managers on the spot.
The conference must pay serious attention to these and other critical issues and make resolutions that can enhance the quality of education.
The conference has been faulted for being jamboree without concrete resolutions; let this year’s make a difference.