Secondary schools are grappling with congestion as the government implements the 100 per cent transition policy.
A recent survey by the Sunday Nation established that most principals have converted dispensaries, laboratories, stores, libraries and disused buildings into classrooms and dormitories to cope with huge number of students.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Education acknowledged the problem and told head teachers that it is looking into ways of addressing it.
Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said the congestion was expected due to the new policy.
“There are quality assurance teams together with regional directors of education, county education directors and sub-county education chiefs going around the country to assess the situation and see what interventions are required,” the minister said in a statement.
“The 100 per cent transition policy will not be diluted or abandoned. It must be fully implemented. We will deal with the issues arising as a result of the policy in a timely and appropriate manner.”
The 1,052,364 candidates who sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination in November last year are expected to join the more than two million students already in secondary schools across the country.
Education stakeholders say the institutions require more classrooms, dormitories, bathrooms, toilets, dining halls, desks, chairs, laboratories and teachers.
Despite requests by the Teachers Service Commission for funds to recruit 12,000 secondary school tutors, annually, it was given money to hire only 7,000 in 2018.
The government also said it set aside Sh16 billion for infrastructure development in close to 10,000 schools countrywide.
It has, however, emerged that the funds were deducted from various vote heads in the current budget of the Ministry for schools.
In Vihiga, for instance, nearly all schools in the county are grappling with massive congestion.
Head teachers and boards of management members told the Sunday Nation that they put up additional classes and dormitories to ease the strain on those available.
At Chavakali High School, the administration has set up a seventh stream to accommodate its more than 1,900 students.
Mr John Kuria, the principal, said the school had a vacancy for 480 Form Ones but more than the number have already reported and others are still arriving.
"The school is congested but we have embraced the new admission policy. We are supposed to be a 10-streamed school but we only have 28 classes," Mr Kuria told the Sunday Nation.
At Kaimosi Girls High School, which has a student population of 1,800, the administration built four extra classrooms last year.
Kaimosi Girls principal Everlyne Odhiambo said the classrooms have eased congestion.
The principal of Kanga Boys High School, Migori Michael Kaunda Ogweno said the institution is grappling with challenges of overstretched facilities and a massive teacher shortage.
At St Paul's Ombo Mixed Secondary School in Uriri constituency, some students are learning under trees.
According to the head teacher, Mr Isaac Odongo, residents prefer taking their children to the school because the fees is relatively low.
One class has 124 students. The recommended maximum number of learners per class, according to the Education Ministry, is 40.
"The number of students is big but we cannot turn them away or run away from the problem. That is why we have come up with makeshift classrooms," Mr Odongo said.
Head teachers in Busia County are also face similar problems.
Mr Joseph Onyango, the principal of Nambale Urban Secondary School, said the big number of Form One students is straining the few available resources.
“Despite being a mixed day school, we don’t have enough classrooms. Almost 240 Form Ones have reported and we expect the number to increase in the coming two weeks,” Mr Onyango told reporters.
In Nyeri County, principals say they will not admit more students.
At Nyeri High School, the principal James Maina said he would admit 360 Form Ones, "which is our capacity".
“About 335 have already reported and we expect the rest by Monday,” Mr Maina said.
St Mary Boys High School head teacher Peter Kombe said the admission was based on bed capacity.
The number of Form Ones who joined the school is 110.
“We are at full capacity. The students will be in two streams of 55 each and it is tough. A hundred others are on the waiting list but there is no vacancy,” Mr Kombe said.
Othaya Boys High School principal Edward Waititu said he would only admit 288 Form Ones, "because our facilities are limited".
Mama Ngina Girls and Shimo La Tewa Boys schools in Mombasa County are also grappling with congestion after admitting a big number of Form Ones.
In Nakuru County, Naivasha Girls Secondary School principal Susan Mundia said the classrooms, laboratories, dormitories and other facilities are overstretched after 465 students reported last week.
She said a cubicle, which normally houses eight learners, now has twice that number.
“We are experiencing a serious congestion crisis and are looking for the best way to address it,” the principal told reporters yesterday.
The situation is the same at Karima Girls High School.
School principal Grace Wanjiru admitted that the challenge is huge.
“There is a shortage of accommodation, toilets, laboratories and other vital infrastructure,” she said, adding that she hopes some problems would be solved soon.
Mr George Muchendu, the principal of Jomo Kenyatta Boys High School in Bahati constituency, Nakuru County said the institution expects to receive almost 500 new students against its capacity of 450.
At Elburgon Secondary School, a teacher said there would be an accommodation crisis when all the new students report.
“We usually admit 176 students but the number has risen to 188 this year. That means every class will have a minimum of 57 learners instead of 45,” the teacher, who did not want to be named, told the Sunday Nation.
Nyahururu Boys High School head teacher Samuel Kahura downplayed the “crisis” and said the institution has enough facilities and is ready to accommodate the extra number of new students.
“We are commissioning a new dormitory this year and we expect to create more space for the extra number of learners,” Mr Kahura said.
St Joseph Chepterit Girls in Nandi County is in a crisis following the admission of 300 Form Ones.
Teachers said the dormitories and classes have become congested.
They asked the national and county governments to come to the aid of the school.
In West Pokot County, Kapenguria Boys High School head teacher Moses Ndenda said there is a need for infrastructural development and expansion in learning institutions in the arid region.
In a report to the National Assembly last November, Auditor-General Edward Ouko said most secondary schools in the country do not have enough dormitories, libraries and teachers.
Most of the laboratories and libraries in the other schools are ill-equipped, the report added.
“To cope with the situation, some schools have introduced triple-decker beds in the dormitories, contrary to the quality assurance standards that require a bed to be either single or double-deck,” Mr Ouko said in his report.
Contacted yesterday, Kenya Secondary School Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli admitted that learning institutions are facing a congestion crisis.
Mr Indimuli asked the government to allocate more funds to the TSC in order to recruit more teachers if the 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school policy is to succeed.
School heads also took issue with the government for reducing personal emolument allocations, saying the funds are used by boards of management to recruit teachers and the subordinate staff.
“County and sub-county schools have taken 70 per cent of all the new students but have no funds for basic infrastructure. Some have only two or three teachers employed by the commission. This makes it hard for students to get quality education,” a principal told the Sunday Nation.
Early this month, TSC officials raised concerns over a possible crisis in education this year unless close to 70,000 teachers are recruited to support the growing student population in schools.
Reported by Derick Luvega, Gaitano Pessa, Vivere Nandiemo, Benson Ayienda, Ouma Wanzala, Joseph Wangui, Winnie Atieno, Macharia Mwangi, Waikwa Maina, Joseph Openda, John Njoroge, Steve Njuguna, Tom Matoke and Oscar Kakai