The Ministry of Education has rescinded its plan to abolish boarding schools for Grades One to Nine beginning this academic year.
However, boarding secondary schools that are still running under the 8-4-4 system have been encouraged to introduce day wings to accommodate more students.
Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu allayed fears that the government would abolish boarding arrangements for junior secondary schools.
“In nomadic areas, we have boarding schools because of the nature of life in those areas. As a ministry and as a government, let it be clear that we have not said we are abolishing boarding schools. No, we are not abolishing,” he said in Nairobi on Monday.
“What we are saying is that, yes, with 100 per cent transition, we have to expand and provide better facilities for day schools to accommodate more numbers,” he added.
“Given that about 70 per cent of secondary school learners are day scholars, more support should be given to these learning institutions. I, therefore, encourage all boarding schools to introduce day wings to enhance access, and cut down costs of education. This is also in line with the CBC requirements for parental engagement in delivery of curriculum,” he said.
Mr Machogu said only 28 per cent of schools in Kenya offer boarding facilities.
Last month, Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang announced the plans to abolish boarding primary and junior secondary schools, arguing that the learners needed to be close to their parents and guardians.
The move raised eyebrows among parents but was praised by headteachers.
“The reason we want to do away with boarding schools is to make education affordable. On average, parents pay up to Sh45,000 per year in extra-county schools and Sh53,000 in national schools. It’s even higher for private schools,” the PS said during the annual primary school headteachers’ meeting at Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Primary School in Mombasa.
The policy shift was among the recommendations presented to President William Ruto by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms.
The government said it would also not allow private schools to have boarding sections for junior secondary school, adding that new private primary schools seeking to have boarding facilities would not be registered.
“We must walk together to make learners acquire [good] values. It’s the only way we shall be able to engage with our children,” Dr Kipsang said.
During a round-table at State House Nairobi early this month, President Ruto defended the plans to abolish boarding schools for Grades One to Nine.
“Eighty-six per cent of 20,000 people that were engaged said they wanted JSS to be near their parents because many of these children are still young. Parents need to look after them to make sure that they are fine. This also reduces the cost of education,” said President Ruto, who praised the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms Task Force he constituted in September last year for a job well done.