01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Chaos in Kenya's secondary schools 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Chaos in Kenya's secondary schools

We are still waiting for the political/peace talks to reach a conclusion which is frustrating for so many people here. The price of food here has gone up considerably and the two lovely ladies from Western Kenya who work in our house have political chats every morning over the washing up when they come in. Sadly, I can’t follow what they are saying because they speak in their tribal language rather than Swahili – but I do hear the words ‘Raila’ and ‘PNU’ and I know that they are back on the old subject again.

One of the ladies told me today that the secondary school system is in complete chaos following the Government’s election pledge to offer free secondary education for all. Many parents have switched their kids over from the private to the state system, only to find that it is the same cost, if not more expensive due to the fact that the schools have not yet got the Government funding that has been promised.

Following an unhappy time at her old school after tribal tensions running high, her daughter made the switch from private to state school. Our housekeeper then paid the required fees (which ended up being the same as at the previous private school) and her daughter is going to the new school each day, but still being denied access to the classroom, having been told:
‘We don’t accept kids who have switched from the private system to the state one.’
The crux of the matter seems to be that the state school have taken fees from more kids than they can physically cope with.

Also she is being asked for an extra fee because her grades fall below an imagined threshold. Our housekeeper feels that this is blatant corruption and fears that her child (albeit she is now 19 years old and desperately trying to finish her education) is being victimised on a tribal basis as it’s a Kikuyu run school. Options for schooling are now running out and she is considering trying to get her money back from the state school in Nairobi and then sending her daughter back to Western Kenya to stay with relatives, so that she has a better chance of getting a hassle free secondary education.

Sadly, I’m not sure if she will have much luck up there either. Many schools have already been so disrupted by the displacement of teachers and students and vandalism of the schools themselves and now they are failing to get promised Government funding to subsidise free tutorial fees. Many doubt that the Government have enough money to offer free secondary education, as it doesn’t have the donor backing that the scheme for free primary schools did. University lecturers have been appealing for assurances of personal security before going back to work. It's such a struggle for people to just get an education.

While things are still so very much up in the air between the Government and Opposition party, the simmering tribal tension will go on.

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