The Government will make secondary education free three years from now, President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged on Wednesday.
He said this will make transition from primary to secondary school possible for all KCPE candidates. It will also remove many of the factors that make students drop out of high school, the Head of State said.
The President pointed out that his administration has increased the Free Day Secondary Education expenditure by 33 per cent to Shs32 billion as it prepares to make universal secondary education free to ensure 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school.
“We are doing all this to improve the quality of education and ease the burden on parents by removing impediments of access to secondary education,” the President said.
President Kenyatta was speaking in Mombasa Wednesday when he addressed the 41st Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) annual national conference.
He traced the introduction of Free Day Secondary Education in 2008 when the Government started paying Sh10,265 for each student a year, saying the scaling up of the figure to Sh12,870 last year has seen a phenomenal growth in enrolment in high schools.
“The Free Day Secondary Education programme has paid handsome dividends – transition rates from primary to secondary schools have improved substantially from 60 per cent in 2008 to 86.7 per cent in 2015,” President Kenyatta said.
The central place of education in national development is crucial, the President said, and the Government will continue to invest heavily in education.
The President said the Government was concerned about those who were still not able to join secondary school.
On national examinations, the President said the Government has undertaken far-reaching changes aimed at improving administration of the national tests.
“My Government has embarked on critical changes in streamlining examination administration so that cases of cheating are eradicated,” the President said.
He said there will be harsh punishment for those who cheat and those who abet the vice, citing a 10 year jail term for the culprits.
As the Government injects colossal funding in education, the Head of State emphasised the need for school heads to embrace prudent management of the funds.
“Prudence is not limited to funds disbursed by the Government this includes funds collected from parents as well. As accounting officers in your institutions, you are fully responsible for management of the resources,” President Kenyatta told the secondary school heads.
He instructed the Education Cabinet Secretary to address the mushrooming of schools to ensure only economically viable ones are registered.
The President said as the country takes a leap into national prosperity, Kenya requires a critical mass of knowledgeable and skilled citizens to deal with the challenges of the this century.
“Education institutions have an important role to play in this regard,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta challenged the school heads to sharpen the social skills and attitudes of the students for the benefit of the nation.
“The youth require guidance and understanding, not judgment and condemnation to be able to navigate through this turbulent period of their lives,” President Kenyatta said.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said his ministry will ensure that exams are administered in a credible manner to guard against cheating and other malpractices.
He said his ministry is also improving infrastructure in schools so that student can learn in a conducive environment that will boost success of education.
Other speakers included Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, teacher unions’ officials and heads teachers’ association chairman John Awiti.