A row has erupted between the Ministry of Education and a World Bank and Bill Gates-backed chain of low-cost schools that operates in slum areas in the country over their operations.
This threatens the education of over 100,000 pupils in slum areas such as Kibera and Korogocho among others, who learn in the 405 nursery and primary schools under the Bridge International Academies.
Whereas the school management insists that the school falls under the category of alternative provision for basic education and training (APBET) the Ministry is disputing the categorization saying the schools fall under private category.
Director of Quality Assurance and Standards in the Ministry of Education Pius Mutisya in a letter dated June 29, to Mr Andrew White, the Managing Director of Bridge International Academies in East Africa, said the academies do not fall under the APBET description.
“We insist that that BIA has to comply as directed and not hide under the APBET guidelines. The County Education boards are able to decide which schools fall under APBET and which are basically private.
“The BIA concept falls under private category,” said Mr Mutisya in the letter that is also copied to Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.
Mr Mutisya added that the curriculum offered by the schools has not been approved by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) noting that submission of materials does not mean approval.
However, the institution insisted that it has engaged the Ministry on registration undertaking when it first launched its operations in 2009 in the country.
NO POLICY FRAMEWORK
“The Ministry advised Bridge that its academies meet all the criteria set by the Ministry of Education for non-formal schools; a reference for APBET schools at the time,” said Ms Jackline Walumbe, the Public Relations Manager at the schools.
Mrs Walumbe said the institution was further advised that the Ministry did not have a policy framework for registration of non-formal schools and that the policy would be finalized in the course of 2009 after which, Bridge would be registered as an APBET school.
“The Ministry ostensibly deferred its registration mandate until APBET guidelines were released in March last year 2016. In the Interim Bridge followed Ministry advice that it could obtain support by being registered under the Attorney-General or the Ministry of gender and social services,” said Ms Walumbe.
“From the above, it is therefore not true that Bridge Academies do not fall under APBET description; Bridge was assigned the identity of an APBET school in 2009 and only operates in areas designated for establishment of APBET schools as per the guidelines,” she adds.
NO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
In March this year, a senior Ministry of Education official blamed sprouting of informal schools in slums in towns on lack of public schools.
Ms Dorothy Ogega told a forum in Nairobi on APBET that urban informal settlements demand for schooling has outstripped supply for lack of public schools in those areas.
“For example in Korogocho, two public schools registered 2,386, in Mathare enrolment reached 3,100 in three schools while in Kibera three public schools enrolled a total of 6,606 pupils,” said Ms Ogega then.
The government launched Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2003. This led to 1.3 million additional children being enrolled in public primary schools in that year alone.
United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) report released in December last year revealed that six out of 10 children who are out of school in Kenya come from poor families.
The report ‘Out of School Children Situation in Kenya’ indicated that a total of 852,000 children aged between 6 and 17 years were still out of school.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has been pushing for the closure of the Bridge schools.
Bridge charges a fee of Sh640 per month across the 405 nursery and primary schools it operates in Kenya.
MINIMUM ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Under the guidelines, institutions are required to teach approved curriculum and must adhere to timetabling guidelines for subjects and courses as provided by the Ministry of Education and allow for flexibility.
The guidelines also require teachers in the institutions to meet the minimum entry requirements in terms of training for the level they will be teaching.
According to the guidelines, a minimum 30 per cent of the teachers at an institution of APBET must have obtained a relevant teacher training certificate from a recognised institution at registration.
“The rest must be undertaking recognised in-service training and management of the institution shall progressively ensure that all their teachers are registered with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) by the third year of registration of the institution,” the guideline outlines.
Mr Sossion says his statement about the school was “just a fair comment.”