Private primary schools are now pushing for a bigger stake in next year’s Form One intake.
The private schools want the current criteria that gives the lion’s share of places in national secondary schools to pupils from public primary schools dicarded on account that it is unfair.
The proposal, if adopted, will see 60 per cent of places in national schools shared purely on merit between pupils from private and public primary schools. The remaining place places should be allocated to pupils from marginalised areas.
If the proposed formula is approved by the government, then it will mean more than 11,000 Form One places in the country’s national secondary schools will go to this year’s top candidates in Standard Eight exams from both public and private primary.
There are only 18,500 slots available in the national secondary schools which are currently shared in the ratio of three to one – that for every three public primary pupils selected, only one from private schools is picked.
Heads of private primary schools from across the country will meet in Nairobi tomorrow where they will released the new selection criteria which they hope can be used for the 889,107 pupils sitting the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams next month.
“In an effort to reward merit 60 per cent of all slots in national schools less pre-select should be given on merit and shared proportionately to all the counties irrespective of whether from public or private primary schools,” according to the formula seen by the Nation.
“In appreciating the diversity of the country and its people, and in realisation of the fact that there exist disparities in different schools across the country, there be proportionate sharing of 40 per cent of all national schools,” the document adds.
The new criteria should end the existing government’s selection guide that gives preference to pupils from public primary schools over private ones.
In the past, the schools merely picked the best candidates, most of whom came from wealthy private schools which were able to hire the best teachers and purchase teaching materials.
Kenya Private Schools Association (Kepsa) Sunday asked the government to abolish the current Form One selection criteria which it termed as “self-defeating” in the sense that while it is supposed to have many students from public schools take up places in national secondary schools, the reverse happens.
“Most parents from private schools are now registering their children in public school exam centres so that they can benefit from the present selection formula,” said Kepsa boss Peter Ndoro.
“That is why we are saying the current criteria is self-defeating. We are asking the government to constitute a technical committee to iron out this issue,” Mr Ndoro said on phone.
The current formula for picking students to the country’s 98 national secondary schools came into force three years ago and has been marred by court battles between the government and private schools.
There are 2.1 million pupils enrolled in about 9,000 private primary schools out of which 123,000 are writing this year’s KCPE exams.
The association said it was satisfied with the manner schools in the lower levels – Extra County, County and Sub-County – selected students for the institutions.
Currently, there are 236 Extra County schools that admit 47,200 pupils. The County schools are 1,262 and admit 174,300 pupils while 376,880 pupils are absorbed by the Sub-County schools.
The 3:1 ration formulae was introduced in 2001 and was meant to make it easier for bright students from poor families to join top public secondary schools.
It sought to end the dominance of candidates from private academies, who took up as much as 90 per cent of Form One places in national schools.
In the arrangement, admission to the best public secondary schools, such as Alliance High, depends on where the child comes from and whether he or she attended a public or private primary school.
Mr Ndoro said tomorrow’s meeting at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development will also discuss the registration of national exams.
Already, Deputy President William Ruto has waived the registration fee for all candidates in the national exams although Mr Ndoro expressed concerns that the directive may not be enforced in the private schools.
The Constitution provides for free and compulsory basic education as a right.