Mugoiri Girls' High School

A mother weeps at Mugoiri Girls' High School after discovering that her daughter's place at the institution had been swapped.

| Nation Media Group

How 'foolproof' Nemis is used to deny Form Ones schools of choice

What you need to know:

  • One devastated parent was captured weeping after discovering that her daughter had missed her place at Mugoiri Girls’ High School in Murang’a County.
  • The Nation has learnt that there is a possibility of people engaging in scandalous activities in cahoots with principals.

A wailing parent leaning onto a pink suitcase and calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta and Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to help her get justice for her daughter captured the devastation of many others across the country when they took their children to Form One on Monday only to find they could not be admitted. 

It also exposed serious flaws in the National Educational Management Information System (Nemis) which has been exploited by unscrupulous principals and parents to deny some deserving learners their places in top schools. 

The parent, whose anguish was widely covered by the media, was devastated after discovering that her daughter’s name was missing from the list of learners selected to join Mugoiri Girls’ High School in Murang’a County (a national school) despite having an admission letter to the school.

According to Nemis, a transfer request to Wambasa Girls’ Secondary School in Siaya County (a county school) had been placed and accepted. 

The mother denied making the transfer request, or knowing a Ms Florence Achola who made the request, according to the records. Her daughter was not the only learner from Mugoiri who was affected. According to the principal, Ms Susan Mundia, three girls had been irregularly transferred. The transfers were all later reversed. 

Mother weeps at Mugoiri Girls' High School after daughter's place is swapped

Competition for places is influenced by the superior learning infrastructure in popular national and extra-county schools that is incomparable to what is in sub-county schools where 718,516 learners have been placed.

Canvassing for the top schools started immediately the selection results were announced, making a mockery of the exercise that, according to Prof Magoha, had been delayed for two months to make it foolproof.

“We applied the principle of equity, fairness, merit, inclusiveness and affirmative action, that is why the process took longer (than usual). We trusted the computer and it doesn’t have a mother or a father,” Prof Magoha said when he announced the results.

However, learners have been moved across schools through human intervention in the system, leaving some grossly disadvantaged. 

In several instances reported to the Nation, parents said they took their children to the schools they were admitted to, only to find they had been transferred to other schools in unclear circumstances.

The Nation yesterday learnt in some of the cases, people who purported to be relatives of the students went to schools and requested the transfers without consulting the students’ parents, raising the question of the credibility of the Form One admission process.

In other cases, the people who requested the transfers are not known to the parents.

The Nation yesterday learnt that there is a possibility of people engaging in scandalous activities in cahoots with principals and transferred students without the consent of their parents.

Number of affected learners

In one case, an MP from Nairobi County was found to have requested the transfer of a learner without consulting their parent.

Parents who spoke to the Nation said after the Form One placement was completed, they logged into Nemis and downloaded admission letters and prepared their children for school.

They also paid school fees to the respective schools and bought all the required items.

The parents said they did not make any requests for transfer, but were shocked to find their children had been transferred to other schools without their knowledge.

One of the parents, whose daughter had an admission letter to St George’s Girl’s Secondary School in Nairobi yesterday said his daughter is stranded at home after they were turned away on Monday.

“Even after we returned the girl to school on Tuesday, the school could not admit her since her index number showed she was transferred to Moi Girls’ Nairobi,” said the parent.

Another parent, whose daughter was admitted to Tengecha Girls was also turned away after they found her placement had been transferred to a sub-county school. The cases were reversed by the Ministry of Education on Tuesday.

The Nation could not establish the exact number of learners affected and how many have not reported to school after they faced similar hitches. However, sources at the ministry said since Monday, parents have been raising the complaints and expressing their frustrations.

Homa Bay Sub-county acting Director of Education Paul Chacha said his office was aware of the crisis and was working to resolve it.

Technical errors in Nemis

“We have received numerous complaints from parents who claim to have been turned away during Form One admission. We have restored areas where problems were reported,” he said.

According to Mr Chacha, the crisis has been orchestrated by technical errors in Nemis. He accused parents of colluding with principals for their children to join certain schools.

“There are parents who insist on taking their children to certain schools instead of the ones that are in the ministry of education records,” he said.

The education officer asked parents who encounter similar difficulties to report to the Ministry of Education offices.

According to the rules, for a Form One transfer to be effected, a parent or guardian must place a transfer request through the principal of the preferred school. If the learner has qualified to join the schools and there is space, the principal then makes the request through Nemis. It is after the approval that a learner’s placement is changed and they can then print the admission letter from the Nemis site.  

The parent or the person requesting the transfer must provide their name, national identification number and mobile number for the request to be approved by the ministry.

The Nemis system was introduced to provide accurate data on learners in public primary and secondary schools but has faced challenges for a number of years. MoE also sends capitation funds to schools based on data in the system.

A 2020 audit on enrolment in schools uncovered a variance of more than 500,000 learners in government records, with school heads accused of inflating numbers to steal the funds.