Two students carry luggage ahead of joining form one. PHOTO/PRESS POINT

The Ministry of Education extended the admission of form ones by one week to accommodate the few remaining cases who have not yet reported to secondary schools for whatever reasons. This is in line with the government policy of 100% transition from primary to secondary schools.

According to a circular released to all Regional and County Directors of Education by the Principal Secretary for Education State Department of Early Learning and Basic Education Dr. Belio Kipsang, the government is on course to achieving the 100% transition and the extension is meant to ensure that no learner is left behind.

The circular states that schools should use the extension to trace their learners who have not reported and at the same time capture all reported learners in NEMIS. It further directs head-teachers of primary schools to make sure that all their 2019 candidates are placed and reported to schools.

This implies that no child should be denied their chance to secondary education without the knowledge of the principal secretary through the county and regional directors of education.

While listening to a debate over the radio about news that the Meru School Principal days ago turned away a pupil for failure to raise the required school fees, my mind reflected back to my experience in the same school six years down the line.

I was taking my son for admission in form one. The newly admitted form one’s number was overwhelming and I was sent back home by the secretary to the principal simply because I did not have the original admission letter.

My explanation that the boy was on the school admission list and that I had used the original letter to borrow school fees from my Sacco fell on deaf ears.

Attempts to meet the principal were mischievously blocked by the secretary who I could hear speaking in monotones to someone over the phone of an open opportunity that had presented itself.

She even blatantly told me that this was the specific chance she had been looking for. All this while, I kept cool and tried to communicate with the Sauti Sacco office in Nairobi over the quickest way to have them send the original letter to me.

Luckily, I met a former college-mate who was a teacher at the school and he helped me to handle the ‘mess’ without involving the secretary. To date, that secretary never understood how I managed to retrieve the original letter and have my son admitted on the same day.

She would always look at me slyly whenever I went to the school for whatever reason for the four years the youth studied in the school, but never in any other event did she block me from meeting the principal or his deputies.

Mike Mati Ngugi, 14, who scored 417 marks in last year’s KCPE exams was sent away by the Meru School principal for failure to pay school fees of KSh 51,216.

His father, Albert Mati, could not raise the and only managed to secure KSh 5,000 from friends and KSh 15,000 from their area (Tharaka) Member of Parliament George Gitonga Murugara, totaling to KSh 20,000.

The Meru School Principal, who is completely different from the one during my predicament, previously received both condemnation and empathy in equal measure in the debate on social media and local FM stations. I feel for the former Principal of Kagumo High School in Nyeri.

Some of the reactions on social media were ‘I really feel for the boy. The said principal is inhuman, inconsiderate and insensitive. He thinks he owns the school by denying the young boy a chance to get basic education due to his humble background…”

A different approach was “If you can’t afford for Meru school then go to another school and study…because I’m certain although it is a good school it doesn’t make you be a A material but only your hard-work and commitment to study can only save you,”

Another wrote “What criteria is used to disburse bursaries in the boy’s home constituency as he deserved a full four year scholarship? The government needs to come out with clear and workable plans on how to educate these needy children because they are many.”

The boy luckily got a sponsor and joined the school of his choice. But how many others out there whose plight might not have been highlightened by the media?

Is the school principal to blame for this challenge?

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