The Ministry of Education top leadership has been advised to involve all stakeholders before coming up with major recommendations and policies affecting the sector.
A renowned PCEA cleric Reverend Godfrey Jomo regretted that lately the Prof George Magoha led ministry has been effecting far-reaching measures without involving other key players in the sector such as secondary school principals, parents and teachers’ unions.
Speaking during an interview with KNA at Reach All for Christ Church in Mbari ya Nguura village in Gikondi division, Nyeri County, Rev Jomo singled out the recent move by the government to allow school heads to send away students who had not cleared fees terming it unilateral and punitive to parents owing to the current hard economic times.
He said the fees issue should have been deliberated conclusively by various stakeholders before that decision was reached as many parents were still struggling to put food on the table as they were yet to recover from negative economic impact on their occupations occasioned by the outbreak Covid-19.
“The Education CS had earlier this year assured parents that no student would be denied education due to lack of fees, only to change tune during this term’s midterm break, whereby he demanded that parents clear third term fees first before their children are allowed back to class.
“However, this term is very short and besides parents were not given adequate time to seek for fees,” said the cleric, adding that the midterm break was not even necessary, coming only a few weeks before schools close and it also exposed students to the risk of contracting Coronavirus.
At the same time, Rev Jomo who doubles as Nairobi School Chaplain challenged the national government to always ensure timely release of funds to learning institutions to enable them run smoothly.
He said school managements have been suffering a lot due to delayed release of funds while being expected to retain and maintain learners.
“Principals are silently struggling to keep the institutions running owing to late release of funds. These students must be fed, while water and electricity bills must be cleared to prevent disconnection,” he emphasized.
Meanwhile, Rev Jomo has expressed concern over alleged unilaterally delayed form one selection saying it had caused grave anxiety among students and their parents and should be concluded forthwith.
“Our standard 8 candidates who sat for their final exams have been thrown into a long educational sabbatical leave which is counterproductive. It would have been commendable and convenient to parents if the selection was done immediately after the results were released as it would have guaranteed them ample time to look for fees and also buy required items,” he stated.
Moreover, the clergyman feared that many learners may not transit to Form I come July as anticipated because the long break had most likely exposed them to social vices such as early marriages, drug abuse and child labour.
The Ministry of Education should have learnt a lesson from the last extended school holiday occasioned by the first wave of Covid-19, such that when learning institutions reopened in January a sizable number of learners were lost without trace.
And by time efforts were made to trace the missing students, some had already become child mothers, while others had already gotten married and even divorced in record time, added Rev Jomo.
On the rising indiscipline cases among students, the P.C.E.A cleric advised the Education docket to strengthen guidance and counselling departments in learning institutions to effectively offer psycho-social support to mentally disturbed learners.
He also stressed on the need for the ministry to ensure all secondary schools had a chaplain to offer distressed children a shoulder to cry on.
“Chaplaincy is a very important intervention in a school set up. It puts more emphasis on pastoral relationship as a key to change through spiritual inspiration and mentorship. The chaplain supports students through moments of stress, depression and other emerging issues,” he explained.
The cleric, who has served as a chaplain for the last 18 years, therefore urged the government to move with speed and in collaboration with various churches deploy chaplains to secondary schools to guarantee mental well-being of the learners.
Rev Jomo further accused parents of abdicating their responsibility of raising their children to teachers as they engaged in pursuit of wealth to bequeath their families when they pass on.
He called on such ever-busy parents to spend some quality time with their young ones in order to encourage and mentor them as they mature. “We should learn to invest in our children and not for our children if we want them to become responsible citizens,’’ stated the cleric.
By Kamiri Munyaka