15 April 2019

Kenya: Delocalisation of Head Teachers Affecting School Boards' Stability

opinion

Kiambu — The government policy of transferring primary and secondary school head teachers and principals to stations away from their home counties through "delocalisation" has received praise and condemnation in equal measure.

More than 3,000 school heads have been moved so far.

In the meantime, most school boards were retired a few weeks ago, having completed the first of their two three-year terms as per the Basic Education Act 2015.

DECISIONS

The boards are constituted by nine members and the school head, who is the secretary. Several interest groups are represented in the boards with the Parents/Teachers Association (PTA) taking the lion's share of the membership. Others include the sponsor, the community and less privileged in the society.

The ratio of men to women is also considered alongside the level of education. Usually, in a faith-sponsored school, the sponsor is given the first priority to produce the chairman, who, according to the Act, must be a graduate. If the sponsor does not have a graduate among its nominees, one is proposed from amongst the rest of the board.

The Act brought in efficiency, accountability and fair representation in the running of schools, which has seen a level of improvement. It also established county education boards, in line with devolution. But it did not establish sub-county boards, which makes it difficult for the county education boards to properly 'reach' the grassroots.

Parliament should establish sub-county boards. It should also facilitate establishment of a national association of board chairmen, which would enable the boards' views to be considered in major decisions on the sector.

That would help to answer questions such as how the input of the boards was factored in the new curriculum. Inasmuch as experts were involved, the Constitution gives every stakeholder a chance to be heard. The input of parents, sponsors and professionals in the boards should have been considered.

SUPERVISORS

Heads usually get the first priority to give views on a new board in their school and whether it should be replaced even when its term has not ended.

Some principals took that as a golden opportunity to remove the board they found after being delocalised or promoted, just for being "uncomfortable" working with them but without genuine reasons based on performance, availability or otherwise.

It is wrong for the provisions, which are not written or otherwise, to give the principal undue advantage over the appointment of the board members, who are supposed to be his or her 'supervisors', as it may lead to jeopardy and abuse.

In forming the sub-county boards, which I propose, sub-county directors of education should choose people with little or no influence from principals. That will ensure no one is discriminated against at the whims of the school heads.

Kenya

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