SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. WILLIAM SAMOEI RUTO, DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 43RD ANNUAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF PRINCIPALS ON 20TH JUNE, 2018 AT WILD WATERS, MOMBASA
Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah-All of Africa’s statesmen placed a dear premium on education; they said it was the only thing that would change Africa.
Nkrumah placed education at the centre of his definition of progress.
“We shall measure our progress by the improvement in the health of our people; by the number of children in school, and by the quality of their education; by the availability of water and electricity in our towns and villages, and by the happiness which our people take in being able to manage their own affairs.
I am happy to join you today to build on this principle for the benefit of this country now and for posterity.
Decades on from Nkrumah and Kenyatta we have improved the number of children in school dramatically and the quality of education has improved but it has not yet reached the transformative level that Mandela spoke about.
To achieve that we need to develop a globally competitive education; one that meets the needs of our industries and fills our society with inventors, innovators and mavericks
To create this kind of education we have to start with invention and innovation in the education sector and its leadership. It takes an innovator to develop another. This ladies and gentlemen is the true challenge of education in this country-how to get inventors, innovators, leaders and game changers into classrooms. An education system is only as competitive and effective as its teachers.
We have made strides with the adoption of a new curriculum focused rightly so on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); that emphasizes continous assessment tests as opposed instead of one-off final exams and that also incorporates emerging issues and problem solving to enable graduates cope in a dynamic and changing global ecocnomy.
But this will only work if learning is effective. This is where we need your leadership. We need to make sure that the right things are going on in our schools.
You need to make sure that our children are safe in your care, safe from those would prey on them from both within and without. Take charge of your institutions; keep your eyes peeled for anyone looking to sabotage the education of our children including your own teachers.
Cases of sexual abuse in schools have the potential of eroding the country’s trust in learning institutions not to mention turning schools into psycholigcal prisons. The government has directed the Ministry of Education to put in place stringent measures to address these vices in order to make our schools safe for learners.
Warning: Do not protect any teacher or staff member abusing children. The full weight of the law is ready and waiting for these characters-we just need you to bring them forward.
Similarly, I expect your Boards of Management to put in place strong administrative structures which are open to students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders and which comply to the requirements of Kenya Constitution 2010, Basic Education Act 2013 and its regulation 2015 as well as other regulations governing the education sector. As teachers and managers of schools, you should be able to adopt a more participatory leadership approach and create friendly learning environment to students.
Our education policy flows from the constitution which delineates education as a fundamental right in this country. Consequently our efforts are focused on on enhancing access, equity and quality at all levels of education
The Government is committed to providing the resources for the sustainable and efficient delivery of a relevant and affordable education. Beyond ensuring affordability, we have embarked on a comprehensive and ambitious agenda to address transition and completion of education by all our children.
Today, the education sector takes the lion share of Kenya’s total public spending. Over 60% of the funds goes to teachers’ salaries while 20% funds Free Education in primary and secondary schools. The government has made interventions at every level of education to increase access to quality education to Kenyans. We will continue to increase access to basic education and work on improving the transition rate of learners from primary to secondary level. We have created more space in public secondary schools via infrastructure grants and we count on your support to ensure every student makes the step up to secondary school. The Education Minister also launched Operation “Watoto waende shule” at the coast to drive secondary school enrolment and we can see the fruits of that endeavor success stories like Marereni Secondary school in Kilifi that registered a form one enrolment of 520.
We see the education sector as an enabler in transforming Kenya into an industrialized middle-income country. But we need to make the system stronger and better to realize this vision.
The Teachers Service Commission is implementing the signing of performance contracts by teachers and principals. This is commendable and timely. This will help us ensure effective implementation of the curriculum, improve teacher-student classroom interaction, and address challenges of chronic absenteeism by teachers and students.
I am also aware that rationalization and de-localization are also ongoing and that there is some resistance to de-localization.
Diversity and variety add richness and depth to any experience, society and system. De-localization will help cement our nationhood by bringing different experiences to classrooms across the country. The more we know each other, teach one another and learn from each other the stronger we become as a nation.
I want to confirm that the government will continue allocating funds for employment of teachers in both primary and secondary schools annually and improve the welfare of teachers within the prevailing economic context.
To bring the education sector into the digital fold the Government will soon roll out the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) an exciting tool that we hope will have incredible impact the way we manage our data in the education sector. We will have the ability to track learners right from Early Childhood to University by via a Unique Persons Identification (UPI) number assigned to every student in school. With this we can also generate up to date statistics on teacher student ratios and other key information at the click of a button.
For the health of our students, we are also rolling out a Comprensive Student Medical Cover through with expanded medical services both locally and outside the country. The cover will conveniently be managed using the Unique Persons Identification (UPI) number UPI that I have just talked about.
Additionally, the Ministry is implementing the textbook distribution policy which will ensure that each student has the mandatory six textbooks when joining form one. This approach has improved efficiency on delivery and use of learning materials while reducing the cost substantially.
To lessened the burden on parents and guardians from disadvantaged households we have raised the capitation for Free Day Secondary Education from Ksh 12,870 to 22,244 which we hope will also improve access.
I recognize that the education sector still faces serious challenges:
- Inadequate infrastructure;
- Gender and regional disparity in distribution of resources;
- Harsh environmental conditions (drought, famine, floods, landslides, lightning and thunderstorms);
- Drugs, substance abuse and other forms of indiscipline
To address these challenges, the Government is, through the Ministry of Education, implementing a wide range of measures including investing in development of school infrastructure, improving the capacity of Boards of Management and parents Associations to check on governance and accountability of public resources, streamlining and taking appropriate action on leadership deficiencies, as well as rigorous and continuous monitoring and auditing of funds to ensure prudent use.
We believe with more partnership and collaboration we can overcome all the above and deliver progress and prosperity for this country through education provided by the best teachers in Africa.
That is our goal, our hope and responsibility.
Thank You and God Bless You.