The recent death of eight pupils and 69 injured at Precious Talent School has not only saddened the entire country but also exposed how several schools in Kenya don’t meet the safety requirements. In the same breath it has yet again uncovered in-depth corruption, impunity and disregard for procedure that engulfs our regulators.
Why parents prefer private schools
1.Most private schools perform better than public schools hence parents in Kenya pay a huge financial sacrifice to educate their children in private schools in the hope of the best education they can get.
2.Some parents are also forced to admit their children in private schools because there are no public schools in their area of residence.
3.Some private schools in informal settlements and rural areas are supported by NGOs and faith based organisations hence their fees is subsidized. Some also have school feeding programmes. These attract many many parents who can not afford the standard fees.
Requirements to start a private school
There are high end private schools in Kenya, well equipped and their school fees even run to millions of shillings but there are also other private schools that do not meet the basic standards.
Precious Talent School is one such school.It had over 800 learners on a non-permanent structure of green iron sheets and timber. The school was established in 2009 and first registered for KCPE in 2012. It is on a quarter acre, although the Ministry of Education demands that a school must have at least half an acre of land in urban areas and at least two acres in rural areas. The school also had a permit to accommodate 350 pupils but had over 800.
The institution had just two toilets for over 800 learners against the ministry’s recommendation of one toilet for 40 learners.?
According to official Ministry of Education figures, the number of private primary schools has more than doubled over the past four years from 7,742 in 2014 to 16,594 this year. On the other hand, public primary schools have only increased by 1,728 from 21,718 in 2014 to 23,446 currently.
A similar trend obtains in secondary schools, where private ones have increased fourfold – from 1,048 in 2014 to 4,310 currently. Public schools have only increased by 1,731, from 7,686 in 2014 to 9,417 this year.
While Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, took responsibility for the deaths and questioned his quality assurance officers, much remains to be desired.As a result, more than 300 primary and secondary schools have received a shut down order and parents have been asked to take their children to nearby public schools.
He further ordered an audit and closure of unsafe and unregistered schools countrywide.The directive has however faced resistance from some parents.
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko also suspended 16 county officials to pave way for investigations. RoGGKenya has put together the existing laws to answer several questions surround the tragedy. Click here to understand the conditions that should apply when starting a private school. Who should be held responsible? What remedies are available in cases where these requirements are not satisfied? Click HERE to read more
By Jenifer Githu