The government has banned mid-year transfers for secondary school students, dealing a major blow to parents and learners who wish to change schools.
This means parents will now have to wait up to the end of the year before they transfer their secondary school children to other public schools.
Director of Secondary Education Paul Kibet said transferring a student mid-year makes it difficult for principals to reconcile the amount of school fees to be paid.
He added that some parents demand school fees refunds after transferring their children to other schools in the middle of the year.
Speaking during the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESHA) conference at the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Hall in Mombasa, Mr Kibet urged the principals to adhere to the directive.
“This is Term Two but sadly I still see transfer letters lying around. The guideline on the transfer of learners is that it must be done at the end of the year, but if you are still signing, please desist from that. If a parent wants to transfer his or her son or daughter to your school let them wait up to the end of the year,” he said.
However, principals said the decision will affect parents who have been transferred to other regions and decided to move with their whole family.
“There are some circumstances that force parents to transfer their children, for instance, insecurity, or high school fees, separation or divorce or even loss of jobs. You cannot pin a child to stay in a particular setup that is not friendly. A parent may not be able to sustain a child in a particular school; that child should be allowed to transfer,” said a principal from a national school in Nairobi.
Later, Mr Kibet said that the rule has been in place and is contained in the transfer and admissions form.
“Check that form that has been used for many years. There is nothing new about this. See instruction 6,” he said.
The instruction reads: “No transfer shall be carried out in the middle of the year except those under special circumstances”.
Inter-school transfers in public schools must be approved and signed by the sub-county director of education, the county director of education and the director, of secondary education or special programmes.
The Ministry of Education uses the enrolment data filed by principals to disburse capitation funds to schools.
“It must be approached with a human face. We have to have some understanding. The ministry should provide a window for special circumstances that allow a child to transfer within the year,” said Gilbert Wamalwa of AIC Kibomet Secondary School.
Senende Boys High School Chief Principal Tom Shavisa said transfers should be allowed only in emergency cases, where parents have been transferred far from a school or a learner is on specialised treatment.
“This is a salient issue. When you transfer a child in the middle of the year, you need to transfer resources that come from either the parent or the government and most of the time, the parent school would not allow it because at times such students either have not met the resources for the year when they transfer; the school loses,” said Dr Shavisa.
On the management of learners’ discipline, Mr Kibet said parents have been complaining that deputy principals are expelling their children.
“Deputy principals have no right to expel a child from school. Suspension of a student can only be undertaken by the principal and it shall not be done indefinitely. There is a procedure for handling students’ discipline as per the Education Regulations 2015. Please make sure that you follow the law,” he added.
He also warned the principals against introducing discipline rules that have not been approved by the boards of management.
“BoMs must sit and come up with rules but they must have gone through public participation. .. We found a school telling a student to [go] with three roles of barbed wire, surely!” said Mr Kibet.