School Year Starts

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Start of School Year, School Year starts

***** Location: Kenya, worldwide
***** Season: Hot Dry Season
***** Category: Humanity


The beginning of the calendar year is also the beginning of the school year in Kenya. Every year, this event leads to much fraught activity for most of January. There is stress, joy and pain, tears and hugs, as tiny tots leave home for their first day at school. Meanwhile, their older siblings start in new schools or return to their familiar schools. And their parents cope with all the related tension -- finding school fees, buying text books, ordering school uniforms. For those with children entering new schools, achieving admission for them in desirable places of learning is only half the battle -- but a very important half.

Parents together --
Provincial School lists in Nyayo House

Those candidates who have taken KCPE exams, together with their parents and families, flock to their Provincial Headquarters around the country to find out whether a National or Provincial School has selected them as one of their new Form 1 students. In Nairobi, the 14th and 15th floors of Nyayo House, where the exam results and confirmed schools selections are displayed on the walls, are so crowded, during the first few days, that the security guards allow only a limited number of parents up at any one time, while the others wait for their turn.

Searching for the name --
Provincial School lists in Nyayo House

Once a students knows the results of the Form 1 selection, and has received the treasured Admission Letter from the school, much activity begins. Finding the fees or finding a sponsor is the most important part. If the student fails to report on opening day (in 2006, this is 23 January), only one week's grace is granted for him or her to show up, bearing a bank draft for the correct amount of fees, as well as all the other numerous constituent parts comprising school uniforms, sports and casual gear, nightwear, washing equipment, books, pens, toilet paper, soap and more.

Secondary schools (with students aged 14 to 18) are mostly boarding schools. Unless they leave on excursions, the young students spend the entire term inside their grounds. They see their families only on the official mid-term Visiting Day, when everyone turns up with a picnic of goodies for the students and enjoys a much-anticipated day together.

After the shopping -- ready for Form One

Text and photos © Isabelle Prondzynski

Related kigo in this context

form one (form 1)
new term
new textbooks
school fees
new uniform


Not all students are lucky enough to be able to enter public sector schools. Some of them may, however, be able to join private initiative schools, such as Bahati Community Centre (BCC).

Read more about it on the Worldkigo / Kenya Saijiki page on School Exams and on its home page :




Cartoon by Gado, Daily Nation 4 January 2006



Fresh start for Form Ones
Daily Nation Editorial, 23 January 2006

Beginning today, national and provincial schools open their doors to Form One students who are opening a new chapter in their lives. This is a critical stage for hundreds of thousands of students who passed the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations and are keen on remoulding their future.

A good number of these youths will lack fees owing to grinding poverty and they must be allowed to take up places in their new schools with as little disruption as possible if they qualify for bursaries.

The Government has set a side more than Sh700 million in bursary funds for needy students this year alone. To smoothen the transfer of needy students to their new schools, MPs and others who preside over these funds - which are allocated under Constituency Development Fund - must hasten the process of disbursing this money so that learning can go on.

Therefore, it behoves the committees appointed to manage these funds to meet urgently and allocate money to students so that they are not shut out of the Form One registration that is expected to end in about a week's time.

It would be unfortunate if these funds were used for political gain as a tool to manipulate parents and guardians of needy students - students who are pursuing their right to quality education.

Authorities should be on the lookout for such infractions. It is at moments such as this that some head teachers toss out the Government-sanctioned fees guidelines and impose new fees structures that raise tuition fees to levels that parents cannot afford.

To bolster the Government's efforts to offer quality education to youths, flexible fees payment plans should be allowed as much as possible.

Head teachers should show great sympathy to those students from famine-ravaged regions whose parents may have lost their livestock - their only means to pay school fees.

These young students deserve all the help they can get.



State appeals for more schools
Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 10 January 2006

Form One selection into district schools countrywide started yesterday, with the Government appealing for aggressive expansion of secondary schools to take more students. At least 5,000 new classrooms are supposed to be constructed in the next two years to accommodate 225,000 children who do not get Form One places.

The passionate appeal by the Education ministry's Directorate of Higher Education follows a Government move to increase primary-to-secondary transition rates from 53 to 70 per cent by 2008. A senior official in the directorate, Mr Kariuki Muli, said the ministry had started an aggressive campaign to ensure expansion of the 4,000 secondary schools to provide space for the more than 450,000 children who qualify for secondary education yearly.

Speaking yesterday at State House Girls High School, Nairobi, where the selection took place, Mr Muli said: "We in the ministry encourage the expansion of secondary schools in our effort to achieve a 70 per cent transition rate by 2008."

District school heads conducted the two-day exercise manually at district education headquarters countrywide. Admissions to national and provincial schools were done through a computerised system. Overall, more girls will join Form One than boys – 191,817 and 188,772 respectively. The second selection is expected to be done after students have reported to schools between January 23 and 30.



It's back to school
Daily Nation Story by RICHARD CHESOS
Publication Date: 9 January 2006

Most schools reopen today for first term with most of the recently recruited teachers starting work at their new stations.

Of the 7,900 teachers recruited last August to bridge the shortfall of instructors, 6,200 reported to primary schools, while 1,650 were posted to secondary schools. Fifty others were sent to technical institutions.

Shops stocking school uniform enjoyed brisk trade at the weekend in anticipation of the reopening of schools. In Nairobi, School Uniform Distributors on River Road was jammed with parents, many who switched to this shop after a fire destroyed one of its branches on Ndumberi Road last week. Manager Hitendra Khetia said they had increased their stocks in the River Road branch to serve the increased number of customers. "We have enough stock; we expected more customers, including those who usually shop at the other (Ndumberi Road) branch," he said.

The hiring of 7,900 teachers is expected to ease the shortfall of instructors in learning institutions, but is far less than the 60,000 the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) wants the Government to hire. The Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers has supported KNUT, saying secondary schools alone need 8,000 new instructors.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) advertised for 7,900 teaching posts seven months ago but delayed in hiring teachers after complaints were raised about unfairness in the recruitment. A vetting committee comprising senior TSC officials was established to investigate allegations of favouritism, tribalism and corruption. All irregular recruitment were nullified, a TSC official said.
Primary school teachers were recruited by district education boards while secondary school instructors sent their applications to school management boards. The 7,900 teachers were employed to replace those who had left the service through death or retirement.

Schools open a fortnight after Education ministry released Sh2.5 billion to 18,000 primary schools for free learning. The money will be used to buy teaching and learning materials.

Recently, primary school headteachers urged the Government to supply relief food to schools in arid and semi-arid areas before they reopen for the term. The Kenya Primary Schools Headteachers Association (Kepsha) expressed fears that thousands of pupils might not report to school if they were not assured of food.

National chairman Titus Waithaka also appealed to the State to provide breakfast, lunch and supper for pupils in areas affected by famine. Currently, primary schools in the country's 22 arid and semi-arid districts benefit from a school feeding programme, a joint project of the Government and the World Food Programme.

Mr Waithaka called for the expansion of the programme to include other areas affected by the famine that has killed more than 12 people. "We fear that children from the affected areas might not report to school on January 9. They will definitely not go there if they know they is no food," he said.


Worldwide use

The start of new school year, a worldwide KIGO

Philippines :
school opening

Things found on the way


form one entrant --
smile huge bag heavy
purse light

turning the corner
into Pangani Girls' School --
then she is gone

Isabelle Prondzynski, 2006


From the Bahati Haiku Poetry Club, February 2006
To read more haiku, click here.

new faces emerge
looking very confused
new books in hand

-- Annastacia Muthoni

students on assembly
last year's fee arrears
announces the principal

-- Catherine Njeri

bells ring --
it is school year
all over Kenya

-- Francis Ouma

bright faces all over
stationery in their bags --
back to school

-- Cyprian Awino

smiling faces
huge bags new shoes
form ones join

-- Maximilla Khasandi

bright morning --
many colours of uniforms
hurrying to school

-- Judy Wangui

pens and exercise books
disappear off the bookshelves --

-- Patrick Wafula

Related words

***** start of new school year worldwide

***** School exams KCSE / KCPE (Kenya)

***** Graduation Ceremony in Kenya

***** Graduation (sotsugyoo, Japan)


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Caleb Wodhes said...

Dear Gabi and Isabelle,
Great collection of information and pictures from Kenya.You have correctly captured the real picture of how things are when school year starts..
I'm impressed..
Keep up the good work,

anonymous said...

"Parent's day"

parent's day
students excited all over-
vernacular all over

in the principals office
introductions and more introductions-
busy day

student's grades
their parents in the principals office-
queries and questions together

parents day
some under the huge tree-
lonely cat meows

wambua harrison