How the new school system plans to teach cartels a lesson

Data center

How the new school system plans to teach cartels a lesson

Cabinet Secretary for Education George Magoha inspects the first admission form at Nyeri High School on May 4, 2022. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Cases of deserving students who were denied admission to Form One due to unscrupulous principals may soon be a thing of the past after the overhaul of the education management system in Kenya.

Form 1 filing days have been characterized in the past by frustrated parents who have called on the state to intervene to ensure justice for their children.

They complained after discovering that the children’s names were not on the list of learners selected to join national schools despite receiving admission letters.

The Ministry of Education says it has redesigned the National Education Management Information System (Nemis) after identifying cross-cutting challenges such as process and data mismatches.

“With the redesigned Nemis system, challenges such as learner intake delays or issues with ease of retrieval of data for rapid decision-making will be a thing of the past,” said the Cabinet Secretary for Education, George Magoha.

In addition to selection and admission to Form One, parents will have access to their children’s academic results and can initiate transfers from one school to another after the upgrade.

The new system decentralizes data accessibility, instead of generating reports from a single source, which made the process prone to manipulation.

Professor Magoha said the new system, which will be rolled out on a pilot basis to work alongside the current one, will be foolproof in tackling cartels.

“The system has been redesigned by re-engineering the department’s database and processes from start to finish to ensure that how processes are conducted by end users, from the initiation of a process to its completion, is captured on the system,” he said.

The decentralization of Nemis follows concerns raised by the Auditor General that it was impossible to audit the expenditure of 60 billion shillings due to the inability to access student registration data on the system. Auditor General Nancy Gathungu said several anomalies were noted in the transfer of education grants to schools.

She said the ministry had transferred free education grants to 9,024 secondary schools amounting to 36,739,481,231 shillings, but data on the number of pupils per school per county at any time of disbursement n could not be verified.

Professor Magoha noted that the ministry has purchased and installed more robust servers to improve data accessibility, ensure system availability and efficiency in data processing and retrieval.

Other features introduced in the new system include the ability for school leaders to apply for capitation in a bid to enhance transparency and accountability.

“Headteachers can now apply for capitation on the system, alongside other funds, for example, low-cost boarding school funds, digital literacy, sanitary napkins, learning materials and subsidies for infrastructure programs,” he said.

Headteachers have recently complained about the late disbursement of government capitation amid the high cost of living which has made it difficult to run schools.

Currently, the government funds schools in four equal terms as part of free day primary and secondary school funding.

In 2019, secondary school principals lobbied Parliament for a fee increase of up to 17,773 shillings per pupil per year, citing rising costs of running and maintaining classrooms and offices.

This was barely a year after the introduction of free day secondary education allocating Sh22,224 to each student, as part of a review to increase transition rates from primary to secondary.

In August 2020, headteachers across the country were shocked after the Ministry of Education canceled school funds that had been given to schools under government capitation.

Disbursed funds are usually reflected in the Nemis system before landing in schools’ bank accounts, with each institution receiving funds based on student numbers.

This was followed by revelations that taxpayers were losing billions of shillings each year funding the ‘education’ of 529,997 ghost learners.

Prof Magoha said at the time the loss was the result of school principals and corrupt Education Ministry officials inflating enrollment figures used by the government to disburse funds for primary education free.

The FPE program started in 2003 under the regime of President Mwai Kibaki. Currently, the government allocates 1,420 shillings per learner.

In the future, the Nemis will be integrated with those of other education actors, to enable a more centralized, accurate and up-to-date database of education indicators.

This includes integration with Teachers Service Commission (TSC) system for managing teacher data, Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) systems for managing learner performance data, Kenya Institute systems of Curriculum Development (KICD) for educational management. curricula and the provision of learning materials to institutions.

Training on the use of the revamped Nemis system will begin shortly before its pilot deployment which will run alongside the current system.

[email protected]

Jeremy S. McLain