Gerishon Nyagia Reuben
The County Government is devoted towards improving the standards of Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE).The hiring of one thousand (1000) ECDE caregivers in addition to the provision of free lunch to the pupils and learning aids for all the public ECDE centres in the County is part of the comprehensive ECDE program funded by the County Government. These interventions have culminated into the introduction of free ECDE program in the County which has significantly increased the pupils enrollment by 45% since inception in May 2016.
The County Government has also been funding three exams in every term for pupils in all the primary schools across the County. These exams are set and moderated by highly resourceful and experienced examiners with an aim of establishing proper academic evaluation standards. Further to this, the County Government has funded the institution of two low-cost public boarding primary schools in every Sub-County in an approach geared towards boosting the time that pupils and teachers dedicated to academics. Mentorship is also a pivotal aspect in improving education standards; this roots the decision by the County Government on incorporating strategic mentors to supplement the mentorship drives by the County Government.
An annual bursary kitty of 70million shillings has also been established since the year 2013 in raising school fees for the vulnerable and needy pupils in tertiary and secondary institutions of learning. These approaches and a host of others have tremendously and constantly put the County on an improvement trend by way of performance in the National Examinations since 2013.
Everyone and especially the youth needs to benefit from qualitative formal or informal education that develops skills and competencies. Conscious of this the County Government has tailored an initiative dubbed ‘fundi kwa vijana’ to absorb the youths who for various reasons fail to proceed to secondary schools or tertiary institutions of learning into vocational centres of learning. Through this program, more than 10,000 young men have acquired technical skills on diverse vocational concentrations such as carpentry, masonry, hair and beauty, motor vehicle mechanics, pastry and bakery, driving among others. These short courses are being offered at no charge with an intention of securing the youths with technical capabilities for self-sufficiency.
The Murang’a County Government through the Education, Youth and Sports department introduced boarding wings in selected public primary schools in the county. This program was initiated in the year 2015 after it was observed that academic performance in boarding primary schools was way above that of day primary schools.
Further research revealed that this was due to the increased number of teacher-pupil contact hours in boarding schools and more study time after the normal learning hours. The county government therefore sought to replicate the results achieved in the boarding primary schools in public primary schools. This was part of a campaign to improve academic performance in the county which had gradually declined over the past 20 years. This could be achieved by providing quality and affordable education in public primary schools.
At the outset, one primary school per sub-county was selected for the pilot project where the government constructed and renovated building in the schools to provide boarding facilities such as dormitories, and dining rooms, and dining halls.
The government also provided other materials including beds, mattresses and water tanks to support the new programme. The school fees were set at a subsidized rate of Shs. 100 per child per day as it was clear that most residents could not afford the high school fees charged at private boarding schools
Since the introduction of the public day and boarding primary school program, there has been a marked improvement in enrolment and academic performance. Eg. Kiangunyi Boarding Primary School has seen enrolment in the program rise to a full capacity of 140 pupils in the last one year. Their academic performance has improved from 2015 with an average mean score of 274 marks in the 2017 KCPE examinations
In the continued effort to improve the quality of education in the county. The Murang’a county government has implemented various interventions in the ECDE and Youth Polytechnics sectors as part of the devolved functions. These include the free school feeding program for ECDE pupils and the Ufundi Kwa Vijana initiative where residents receive free short-term courses in all polytechnics in the county.
Launched at the KICC on 6th August 2013 by His Excellency the governor of Murang’a County Mwangi Wa Iria, Murang’a Child Can is a school mentorship initiative aimed at stimulating change in the education sector in Murang’a County. Under the program, mentors adopt schools of their choice within the county and working together with the schools and the county government implement strategies of improving performance in the respective schools.
Murang’a Child Can be enacted with a view to adding value to the educational experience which will eventually translate into better grades for our pupils. The program, therefore, provides a platform for Murang’a County professionals and other stakeholders to become active participants in uplifting the standards of education and by extension the future livelihood of Murang’a County’s children.
The Murang’a Child Can initiative was developed against the backdrop of a show of declining academic performance in recent years. It envisions the restoration of Murang’a County to its former glory as an academic powerhouse producing some of the best performing students in the country. The Murang’a County government has made a promise to the people of Murang’a County that high academic performance in their schools will once again become a reality.
By actualizing the concept of improving the standard of education the county government will ensure that Murang’a County steadily moves from the current staggering position thirty-six and thirty-three in KCPE and KCSE respectively in the national County rankings to be among the top-performing counties. In this light, Murang’a Child Can have brought on board a large number of like-minded individuals who are committed to developing a common engagement plan geared towards empowering teachers and pupils so that they may remain focused on their personal development.
Among the first projects for Murang’a Child Can, the County Government has rescued the parents from the many hurdles they face in facilitating the cost of an examination by sponsoring the entire primary examination running from class 1 to class 8 to ensure there are minimal interruptions during the learning process due to lack of exam fees. We endeavour to acquire optimum goodwill and cooperation from all stakeholders, ensuring that there are minimal interruptions in the existing structures and systems. In order to achieve this critical noble program, the County Government has created a department within the Ministry of Education, Information and Technology to competently see its success.