17 September 2011

Kenya: Private Schools Lose Form One Quota System

Photo: daily Nation
Chairman of the Kenya Private Schools Association, John Kabui Mwai (centre) and lawyer Chege Wainaina (left) address the press on January 18, 2011 after the mention of a case challenging the new Form One selection policy.

The government has won a court case against private schools over the new form one quota selection system which sought to end the private schools' dominance in top secondary schools in the country.

A three-judge bench yesterday ruled in favour of the government, saying the policy introduced by the ministry of Education early this year is not in any way discriminative.The judges observed that "If merits were the only qualification to be considered in form one selection, it would mean private schools would take the large share in top schools ".

Judges Jeanne Gacheche, George Dulu and Aggrey Muchelule said even though the quality of education in public schools is heavily compromised, it would be unfair to select form one students based on merits alone. The verdict was a big blow to the Kenya Private Schools Association who dashed to court to block the criteria that was set out in distributing places at the national and provincial schools.

On January 6, Education minister Sam Ongeri announced new guidelines that limit the available places in public secondary schools to the ratio of candidates in a stream - either private or public - to the overall number of candidates who sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). The minister said the policy is aimed at enhancing access, equity and quality at all levels of education.

The association wanted the ministry's policy quashed on grounds that it is discriminatory and oppressive. It was their argument that the selection to join secondary schools should be based on merit pursuant to the individual candidate performance in the national examination.

They had argued that the decision to lock out of national schools their best pupils is a violation of the rights of the students and it is only fair and just for the court to nullify it. They said the decision is oppressive because the new guidelines were never set out to the students before they sat for their examination.

However the three judges said they did not show how the policy was discriminative. Now, students who sit for their exams in public schools will be given 85.59 per cent slot while those in private schools will have 14.41 per cent of the available opportunities in national and provincial schools.

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