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Principals switch off phones as parents look for vacancies

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Headteachers are grappling with growing demand by parents seeking to transfer their children who were selected to join far-flung secondary schools.

It emerged yesterday that some parents are uncomfortable with the idea of sending their children to institutions in distant counties.In one of the cases seen by The Standard, a candidate from Kakamega County was selected to join a school in Taita Taveta County.

Another candidate who sat the KCPE exams in Kisumu was admitted to a school in Nyeri while a candidate from Nairobi was selected to join a school in Busia.

Data from the Ministry of Education reveals that many counties do not have adequate spaces in their schools to accommodate their students.Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said this week they were aware of the problem of limited places in some counties.

“Faced with this challenge, the ministry opted to place learners from these counties to schools in neighbouring counties, and not to schools of their choice,” said Prof Magoha.

The CS said nearly 30,000 candidates were placed in schools they did not select, which he attributed to skewed candidates’ choices or unavailability of vacancies in their home counties.Headteachers who spoke to The Standard yesterday said they had been forced to switch off their cell phones as pressure from parents mounts.

“Many parents are coming to school and some are calling the office and our private mobile phones asking for Form One slots,” said a principal in one of the national schools.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) national chairman Kahi Indimuli said principals had also complained about a large number of parents demanding to be issued with admission letters directly from the schools.“It is stressful because some do not know the procedure. It is impossible for a principal to issue a letter because parents are required to print them from the website,” said Mr Indimuli.

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The chairman explained that for a transfer to be effected, the school must declare a vacancy is available after which the request is uploaded to the National Education Information Management System (Nemis).“The conditions are that there must be a vacancy in the school that parents are seeking a transfer to. The school must also have been part of the choices made by the student during the application process,” said Indimuli.

Reject request

He said Nemis would reject a transfer request if the school was not among the institutions selected by the candidate.

Sources at the ministry said the move to introduce printing of admission letters from the ministry’s website and a new rule for headteachers to declare available slots was aimed at ensuring fairness.Previously, some principals reportedly sold vacant Form One slots to the highest bidder, locking out poor but deserving students.

Parents were also said to hop from one preferred school to another and readily parted with thousands of shillings to bribe headteachers and secure the hoarded slots for their children.

It also emerged that some principals under-reported the number of available Form One vacancies to allow more room for business when admissions start.

The principals are now required to declare these vacancies and propose the names of students who have expressed interest to take up the available slots.Parents who spoke yesterday revealed the agony of the admission process especially when their children rejected their assigned schools.

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Kenya Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo said he was a victim of the selection process.

“My child was placed in a school that he never selected. He declined to go there but I am convincing him that it is a good school,” Mr Maiyo said.

It also emerged that primary school headteachers contributed to the skewed secondary schools application exercise.

A Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha) delegates meeting in Mombasa heard that parents and children do not get adequate advise on how to select secondary schools.Some headteachers, however, faulted the manner in which schools clusters are arranged.

“Every year we face this problem of parents seeking transfers and we ask ourselves what the problem is. And if it is about school clusters, then make the resolution here and forward it to the ministry,” said Indimuli.Giving an example, he said it was the wrong decision for a candidate to select Pangani Girls as a first choice and follow it up with Kenya High or Alliance Girls.

“If your second choice is a competitive school then be assured it is someone else’s first choice and you will also miss out on it.”

Four categories

During the application process, each candidate is expected to select a maximum number of schools from four listed categories.The categories are national, extra-county (divided into three clusters), county and sub-county schools.

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Candidates with disabilities also pick an institution from a fifth category of special schools.Candidates are expected to select 11 schools: national (four), extra-county (three; one from each cluster), county (two) and sub-county (two).

Students with disabilities can pick one more school from a list of special/integrated institutions.Under extra-county schools, in Cluster One, candidates select one preferred school from a list of 332 institutions.

In Cluster Two, they select from a list of 208 schools while in Cluster Three, they pick from a list of 198 schools.Extra-county schools are boarding institutions that admit only 60 per cent of students from the host county.County schools, on the other hand, select all their students from the host county. Each candidate is expected to choose two schools from the list provided.

Some candidates find themselves at a disadvantage when they select county schools situated in other counties.Speaking during the selection exercise on Monday, Magoha revealed that some candidates opted to select one or two secondary schools instead of 11, thus limiting placement to their preferred choices.

At the headteachers’ meeting, it also emerged that guidance was lacking for secondary students seeking university admission.

The students have 18 choices when applying to join a university.There are six options for degree courses, four for diploma programmes and a similar number for craft certificate options.The students also have four options for artisan certificate courses.

by Standard

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Kenyan doctor who tested positive for COVID-19 and her caring house help 

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BY KEVIN KOECH

When the former Kenya Medical Association (CEO) Amakove Wala received the news she had tested positive for COVID-19, she was thrown into a panic mode and worried about her babies.

To ensure her kid’s routine was not interfered with as she stayed in isolation, the doctor adopted the current mode of holding meetings online using Zoom to catch up with the young ones.

However, while documenting her experience on her a Facebook page, the medic could not hide her joy on Monday, August 3, as she finally came out of isolation feeling better.

Amakove was keen enough to also express gratitude to one person who played the crucial role of nursing her while she was in isolation – her longtime friend and househelp identified as Susan.

“I owe this lady my life. She risked her own health to nurse me. She endured stigma from neighbours,” she said.

According to Amakove, the househelp did not only nurse her but also counselled her children who did not understand what was happening to their mother and why she was isolating.

“She made all those concoctions that I had to drink. Thank you, Susan!” she said.

We have been through a lot the past nine years or so but on this, you have made me believe that good people still exist,” added Amakove.

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The doctor discharged herself from isolation after 12 days of not displaying any COVID-19 related symptoms including chills, fever and muscle aches for three consecutive days.

“I am done with this nasty bug. I have gained my freedom. I have discharged myself from home based care,” said Amakove.

“I could not have done it without all your support. Thank you! I have been to hell and back. isolation is the worst form of human torture in my opinion,” she added.

Amakove was among over 600 medics who are reported to have contracted the virus while a number of healthcare workers have succumbed to complications caused by the disease.

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I did not sleep in my home, Sakaja says as he dares police to arrest him 

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BY KEVIN KOECH

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja on Tuesday, August 4, dared those attempting to arrest him to go ahead and put him behind bars.

Sakaja speaking at the Senate stated that he was ready to sleep in a cell after he had cast his vote over the County Revenue Allocation formula debate.

“I was in Senate from 5:30 am and stayed in my car till midday to avoid arrest. Please go ahead and arrest me. I am not one to be intimidated, since I have cast my vote,” he declared.

The Senator referred to various incidences including being trailed by the police, and proceeding reports of his impending arrest and alleged sponsored hashtags aimed at making him change his vote in the revenue sharing formula.

The Nairobi representative faulted the party for threatening to de-whip members who had not towed the party line.

When Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata stood to explain the disciplinary position, Sakaja from his bench shouted him down.

“Senator Sakaja is entitled to security and government does not support actions geared towards threatening his security. We had a Jubilee PG and some members did not attend, including Sakaja. Therefore, he should not mislead the house,” the Murang’a Senator stated.

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The Senate voted to postpone the County Revenue Allocation formula debate once again.

This was after Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen rose, Pursuant to Senate Standing Order 105, seeking adjournment of the debate on the Motion for the Approval of the Third Basis for Revenue Allocation Among Counties.

34 senators voted to adjourn the motion against 26 who opposed its adjournment. One senator was absent.

Sakaja who confessed that he had not slept in his own house the night before as banners cropped up on bridges in Nairobi roads albelling him a traitor.

“Sakaja is a traitor. You do not represent Mandera, represent us, Nairobi,” read a message on one of the posters.

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Chebet Ronoh opens up on rare medical condition, quitting radio 

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BY KEVIN KOECH

Comedian and YouTuber Deborah Chebet Ronoh has for the first time opened up on having panic attacks after getting famous, and her silent exit from NRG Radio.

Ronoh said that she was excited about her radio job but she got to a point where she felt overwhelmed and wasn’t giving it her all and so she decided to quit.

She explained that she was not mentally prepared for her fast rise to fame and this in some way led her to experiencing anxiety. whenever she was around people.

“I left Brookhouse for my radio job. I was so excited about my first job and things were so great everything was happening so fast and like everyone knew me and I didn’t actually mentally prepare myself.

“So I was on radio when I felt like I was unhappy, I felt like I didn’t really want to do it at that time in my life. It reached a point I felt I wasn’t giving it my everything and also it was a bit overwhelming for me and I started to get anxiety a lot because I didn’t know that I was known. Like I’d walk outside,” she said.

Ronoh explained that as she grew famous, and people got to know her, the more she experienced anxiety and panic attacks and this would happen even when fans said Hi to her whenever they met.

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When she attended events, the comedian said she would drink herself stupid to calm herself down, in order to be comfortable around people.

“A lot of people especially older than me would stop me on the road and that began to give me anxiety. I didn’t know it was anxiety until I realized people would Hi and I panic. I just used to get a lot of anxiety, it was so bad that I would literally breathe so heavily when I go out. I used to even drink so much so that I could be comfortable around people,”

“It was so bad and I had feel like a lot of pressure from external and I lost a lot of my realest friends. A lot of people who supported and knew me before I got here. They got tired and that hit me so hard,” stated Ronoh.

According to the comedian, she quit her radio job to focus on herself as a brand which also proved difficult because she had already lost friends, and those who pretended to care and supporting her had also gone.

“When I quit my radio job, I wanted to focus on Ronoh but that was hard because a lot people were leaving me I didn’t have friends,” she said.

Ronoh noted that she felt owned by people because everything she did was criticized and this only discouraged her, and further broke her down, but all that is now in the past and she is coming back, a new Chebet Ronoh.

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