Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018
Cargo worth millions of shillings went under the hammer on Wednesday at the Mombasa port after importers failed to pay duty to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
KRA deputy commissioner in charge of Southern Region Nicholas Kinoti said the assorted goods were auctioned after the importers failed to collect their cargo due to non-payment of duty.
He said the taxman had given the importers a 30-day notice for them to pay the required duty but failed to do so.
“It is important for importers to pay duty when their goods arrive at the Port of Mombasa so that they can collect their cargo,” he said.
“Upon failure by the importers to collect their cargo, KRA is mandated to auction the goods to generate revenue,” he added.
Speaking at the customs warehouse at the port during the auction, he called on Kenyans to participate in the sale.
The cargo included vehicles, household items, electrical appliances, travelling bags and washing machines. “The auctioning of uncollected cargo is part of efforts by KRA to decongest the Port of Mombasa. When the goods are sold, it creates room for incoming cargo,” he said.
Mr Kinoti added that another auction would take place on January 17 in which many vehicles and other assorted goods would be sold. The official said some cargo could not be auctioned as it was still being held for verification or awaiting valuation by the concerned agencies.
Some goods, which were deemed expensive by buyers, he added, were awaiting a devaluation approval from the authorities ahead of the second auction.
“An auctioneer has been brought from Nairobi in a bid to ensure transparency in the auctioning of goods. We want to ensure that the process is fair to all bidders,” he said, adding that this year’s turnout of bidders had improved as many potential buyers had attended the auctioning. In the previous auction, the KRA sold goods worth Sh100 million, according to the official.
A Mombasa businessman, Mr Bipin Narandas, said this year’s auction was transparent as the bidders were given an opportunity to openly bid for the goods they were looking for.
“In the previous auctions, there used to be numerous complaints of favouritism, but this time around, the exercise was conducted fairly,” he said.
However, the businessman called on the Kenya Bureau of Standards to fast track verification of the authenticity of cargo to enable the owners to collect it on time.
“The Kenya Bureau of Standards should speed up the verification of food and medicine to prevent them from going bad,” he said.
Mr Narandas said importers of food and medicine end up incurring huge losses after the commodities go to waste due to verification delays.
The government Wednesday launched a new roadmap for the rollout of the proposed school curriculum.
It begins with a national piloting this year that culminates in the actual implementation in January next year.
The pilot starts immediately and will cover pre-school and Standards One and Two. It will also be done in Standard Three in a few schools.
Known as competence-based curriculum (CBC), the new system, which seeks to replace the current 8-4-4, focuses on skills instead of knowledge.
It is phased as follows: two years of pre-school, six years of primary school, six years of high school, and three years of tertiary education (2-6-6-3).
In its naming system, classes will henceforth be referred to as grades rather than standards as is currently the case.
The actual implementation next year will cover pre-school up to Standard Four and move progressively up the system, with the pioneering students completing high school in 2027. In effect, 8-4-4 will continue until the last batch sits Form Four exams in 2026.
The piloting stage will involve training of all teachers, refining of the curriculum content, development of a framework for testing, and preparation of teaching and learning materials. Initially, the actual implementation was meant to start this year. However, that has been pushed forward by one year.
Launching the national piloting, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i explained that implementation of the new curriculum is being phased out to allow proper preparation and execution.
He said the piloting stage was part of the rollout of the curriculum, noting this will provide insights about its viability and areas requiring improvement, and hence better inform the actual implementation.
Dr Matiang’i made the announcement after chairing a meeting of the Curriculum Reform National Steering Committee held at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development in Nairobi.
“We are moving as planned and the activities that will take place this year are part of the rollout of the new curriculum,” he said.
“Contrary to what some may have thought, we are on track and all activities will be executed on schedule in readiness for full implementation of the curriculum,” he continued, adding that “this is a progressive change and will be done for the next decade”.
He clarified that Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams will continue until the new system runs its complete cycle.
As part of the preparation for full implementation, the government, through the National Steering Committee and KICD, will finalise a sessional paper to provide policy direction on the new changes, prepare a legal framework and present it to Parliament for debate and approval, and engage county governments on management of pre-primary education.
All this will culminate in a national conference in August to review progress on piloting and consolidate all the processes to pave way for full implementation in 2019.
Speaking during the launch, Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary-general Wilson Sossion expressed support for the revised programme, saying teachers had been worried that some steps were being circumvented in the curriculum change process, which was contrary to international best practices.
“With the clarification and revision of timelines and schedule of activities, we ask all our teachers to embrace the new curriculum and be ready for training and implementing it,” he said.
The chairman of Kenya Publishers Association, Mr Lawrence Njagi, equally expressed support of the new curriculum and acknowledged that the revised scheduled would give publishers ample time to prepare teaching and learning materials appropriately.
The chairperson of KICD, Dr Sarah Ruto, said the institute will intensify public communication and stakeholder engagement to sensitise the public and all interest groups to ensure success of the new curriculum.
For the past few weeks, Knut and independent education experts have voiced concern over how preparations for rollout of the new curriculum were being managed, with the accent being that stakeholders and key interest groups were not being adequately consulted, and that critical milestones — like preparing the sessional paper and developing a legal framework — were being side-stepped. Knut was also apprehensive of the level of teacher training and preparedness.
However, at the end of yesterday’s meeting, all the contentious issues were resolved, with Dr Matiang’i committing to robust and extensive consultation.
Among others, he challenged universities to take an active role in analysing the proposals and provide data and research knowledge to inform its implementation.
The government has released Sh37 billion to all public schools towards the implementation of free education, a day after they reopened for the 2018 first term.
Sh29.5 billion has been paid to all the public secondary schools for Free Secondary Education (FSE) that has been rolled out as part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2017 pre-election pledge.
The remaining Sh7.5 billion will go to the printing and supply of textbooks for both secondary and primary schools.
As part of efforts to implement FSE, the government increased the capitation fund for secondary boarding schools to Sh22,244 which will be paid directly to the school.
A breakdown of the distribution of the Sh22,244 released Wednesday by the Ministry shows the government has allocated Sh5,122 per student for tuition, which brings the total to Sh13.4 billion.
Similarly, the capitation for cost of operations is Sh6,000 per student, totalling Sh15.7 billion a year.
In a statement, the ministry said a portion equivalent to the cost of the six core course books has been recovered from each learner towards payment for the books under the tuition vote item.
Under the arrangement, pupils in Standard Seven and Eight will each receive four books for English, Kiswahili, science and mathematics, while all students in secondary schools will receive six core textbooks for English, Kiswahili, mathematics, physics, biology and chemistry.
“Schools are expected to acknowledge receipt of the grant by issuing official receipts to the principal secretary for each of the two vote heads followed by receipts to each student for the capitation after they have signed form to be attached to payment voucher as per accounting procedures,” the ministry said in a circular to school principals.
The statement was signed by the director of secondary and tertiary education at the Ministry, Mr Robert Masese, on behalf of the principal secretary.
Mr Masese directed all schools to adhere to the guidelines as detailed in the circular issued by the Ministry on implementation of Free Day Secondary Education.
“For avoidance of doubt, all national schools and extra-county Schools in Mombasa, Nakuru, Nairobi, Kisumu and Eldoret will charge Sh53,554.00 per year. Any other boarding school will charge Sh40,435.”
In the 2017/18 budget, the government has set aside Sh33 billion for free secondary education and another Sh14 billion for free primary schooling.
National schools selected to open up day wings will start admitting day scholars Thursday.
The ministry of Education has directed schools to start admitting Form One students starting Thursday until Monday.
The schools that will be admitting the day scholars are Kenya High School, Starehe Boys Centre, Moi Forces Academy, Nairobi School, Lenana School, Pangani Girls High School and Moi Girls Secondary School, Nairobi.
Others are Ngara Girls Secondary School, Buruburu Girls High School, Embakasi Girls, Arya Parklands, Nembu Girls High School, Dagoretti High School, Lang’ata Secondary School, Upper Hill, St George’s Girls, State House Girls, Hospital Hill and Ofafa Jericho.
According to the ministry, the move will boost capacity and delink admission to bed space under the free secondary education plan that is expected to increase Form One enrolment to above one million students.
The opening of day wings is part of the government’s plan to have a 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school.
Yesterday, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said Treasury had allocated Sh29 billion to facilitate the rolling out of free secondary school education.
While releasing the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) 2017 results, Dr Matiang’i announced that all the 993,718 candidates are expected to join Form One.
The number is a 25 per cent increase from the students that were admitted to secondary schools last year .
A total of 790,680 students joined secondary schools across the country last year.
The students were admitted amid concerns over number of teachers, classrooms and materials that do not match the numbers as well as poor standards.
The CS said the ministry had established mechanisms to ensure that more students are enrolled in school.
Dr Matiang’i said opening of day wings in existing boarding schools, especially in Nairobi, is meant to maximise the use of available resources as well as delink admission from bed capacity.
Other interventions include expanding capacities of existing schools to create places.
He said the government had dedicated infrastructure grants amounting to Sh6.4 billion to 2,710 regular and 30 special needs secondary schools.
The grants had led to construction of 2,740 classrooms, 349 laboratories and 326 blocks of sanitation facilities, among others.
Some of these facilities are complete while others will be completed this year.
The government is also involved in development of secondary schools through the Constituency Development Fund. However, the ministry is yet to explain the criteria used to select the schools.
Elizabeth Auma’s baby was six-months-old and was due for a polio vaccine when nurses went on strike.
However, Auma, just like 499,999 other mothers with young children had to wait for three months until the nurses got back to work for their children to receive the life-saving vaccines.
Vaccination, especially that of babies, is one of those religiously followed routines in most Kenyan families. Important as it is, however, vaccination is often made difficult by conflicting information, influences from authoritative organisations and lately, access to the services.
Out of every 1,000 children, 39 die due to diseases that can be prevented by vaccination.
Auma’s son is turning 12 months next week but she is afraid of the consequences if there is any major disease outbreak in the country, since he has not received the vaccines that he missed.
At six months, Auma’s baby ought to have been vaccinated against flu and given Vitamin A. At seven months he should have gotten the second dose of the flu vaccine. At nine months, measles vaccine and the first dose of the chickenpox one should have been administered.
He was also to be vaccinated against meningitis. At 11 months, he was to get the second dose of chicken pox.
You see, these vaccines, according to the country’s immunisation framework, ought to be given at the scheduled ages if they are to effectively work. However, about two months since nurses resumed duty, interestingly, Auma’s child is yet to be vaccinated.
“I went to the hospital and requested if my son could be given the vaccination that he missed but the nurse in charge told me that the vaccines were not enough and that if all the mothers would request the same, then no child would get the current vaccination,” says Auma.
“If I had the money, I would have gone to a private facility.”
Her son represents more than 5,000 other children in Kisumu County that may have missed vaccination during the nurses’ strike, exposing them to preventable diseases.
Among the vaccines many children below five years may have missed included tuberculosis, polio and measles, says Kisumu Director of Health, Dr Dickens Onyango.
To mitigate the effects of the health workers’ strike, Dr Onyango said the county had distributed drugs that were stocked in public hospitals to private facilities to offer free immunisation to children.
He added that no mother should skip immunisation since they would be risking the lives of their children.
Since the government is not sure whether hundreds of thousands of children who missed their vaccination were getting them in public facilities, the country is staring at a huge health crisis and the disease profile in the country is likely to be affected, for the worst.
When a child misses a polio vaccine and there is an attack, for instance, the likelihood of that child going down with the virus is huge because the child is not covered.
“Vaccines are the safest way to protect children and pregnant mothers from a long list of serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses,” says Dr Walter Otieno, a western Kenya based paediatrician.
“They protect children by preparing their immune systems to recognise and fight serious, deadly diseases.”
According to data from the Ministry of Health released in October, the national immunisation coverage dropped from 85 to 68 per cent due to the five-month strike by nurses.
The data also indicated that the number of children who were not vaccinated rose from 157,584 to 265,523 between January and July, exposing Kenya to the risk of diseases such as polio, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.
From the statistics, skilled care during pregnancy declined by 44 per cent while deliveries in health facilities reduced by 28,000 from 85,000 between January and July.
Many Kenyans obsess with just a one part of education: The content and students’ performance in examinations. Yet education is more than a curriculum or how many years one spends in school.
We go through hysteria when results are released but do not talk about bigger issues affecting education for the rest of the year. Two, we do not re-examine the role of exams. Three, we believe that replacing 8-4-4 with 2-6-3-3 will solve every problem related to education (and even the economy).
This obsession with a mathematical formula and exams is not accidental.
Politicians like formulaic solutions for education because they help them to evade issues such as funding of education, payment of teachers and structure of the labour market.
Yet the problems we attribute to 8-4-4 do not start in the classroom.
The root cause of the problems in our education system is philosophical: We educate for the market. We do not care whether students are all rounded, what their values are, whether they are imaginative or not or if they learn at all.
All that matters is that employers are happy with their profits—not that Kenyans are happy in their country. Yet, as Nyerere said, anyone who measures the value of his education by the market is a slave.
Ironically, the business sector, which promotes this kind of education, also complains that graduates cannot think on their feet or solve problems. Essentially, the business community wants to have its cake and eat it too.
In any case, one inconvenient truth is that the labour model is still colonial. We pay huge salaries to managers and peanuts to professionals and technicians who create the real value in organisations.
We have witnessed the rise of the CEO—usually a man, on a hefty salary—who hops from company to company and leaves each station with little to show for it. And, often, the CEO of an organisation which uses professional or technical skills that he does not have, and so he keeps the employees occupied with paperwork demanded by the latest management fad, like TQM and performance management.
This is discouraging for professionals and technicians. Why study to be a doctor, plumber or welder if you cannot rise through the ranks, and have to take orders from a manager only because he has a BCom or an MBA? This focus on management explains why 20 per cent of Kenyan university students are in business schools.
These problems of the market must be addressed by the labour, commerce and finance ministries, not by the curriculum.
Exams are about control and access to resources that has been limited politically by patronage, corruption and impunity. As long as opportunities are scarce, exams will determine access to jobs and education.
This began during colonialism, when the British colonialists adapted their curriculum to local cultures in the colonies but did not trust African knowledge and so insisted that Africans had to sit exams set in London (Cambridge). Africans then began to use rote memorisation and exam cheating to get certificates for upward mobility.
Cambridge exams were replaced five years after Independence but the colonial logic remained. British experts and bodies such as the British Council have played a role in every curriculum review.
The problems that Dr Matiang’i claims to address have been with us for a century and will not end by failing children and defending the integrity of the exams.
We ought to replace the logic of the exams body, Knec. High school leavers should, instead, take entry tests for the programmes that they want to join, offered more than once a year with a re-sit option.
We need to strengthen and create professional bodies, which can liaise with Knec to offer upgrading exams.
We should restructure the labour market and create roles for master technicians, whose experience and high skill can give social status and have them apprentice younger students.
But such ideas are impossible if our governance logic is not to facilitate Kenyans but make them beg for spaces in the next level of education and job market.
Expecting the new system to perform miracles is like expecting torn shoes to stop water and mud from seeping in just because one has replaced the laces. We need new and different shoes; a new governance and educational mindset.
SportPesa’s abrupt withdrawal from all Kenyan sports sponsorships has precipitated a crisis of sorts ahead of a busy year in the sporting calendar.
The betting firm was reacting to the government’s increased taxes on gaming.
Several clubs and national teams that directly benefitted from SportPesa’s largesse have since indicated that they will, subsequently, withdraw from international engagements.
There is also talk of a boycott of April’s Commonwealth Games in Australia by the affected federations, whose financial plans have been scuttled.
Sadly, it is evident that, ultimately, players, coaches, referees and other main sports stakeholders will be the worst hit by the withdrawal of sponsorship.
The Exchequer, traditionally, seems to have more pressing needs to take care of, meaning very little in terms of resources will be apportioned to sports development. Alternative sources of financing our sport are, therefore, imperative and investors in the sector must be encouraged and offered incentives that will, ultimately, trickle down to the athletes and coaches.
We appeal for urgent talks between the government and the betting firms to strike middle ground. While the government may be justified in increasing tax on gaming firms that continue to rake in huge sums, the Treasury’s hardline stance might be counter-productive.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has dropped its opposition to the rolling out of a new education curriculum and urged teachers to embrace it.
Secretary-general Wilson Sossion said the activities that have been lined up to ensure the smooth rolling out of the new programme have excited teachers.
“We want to urge to our teachers to interact with the new curriculum design to ensure that it is gradually implemented,” he said yesterday at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), Nairobi.
Mr Sossion said the rolling out of the new curriculum is an historic moment for the education sector and no step should be missed.
He said after long discussions with the national steering committee on curriculum reforms, the union is happy with the plans and asked the government to ensure adequate funds for teacher training.
“We urge our teachers to embrace the new curriculum and our parents to also drop the anxiety they have been having over the implementation of the new curriculum,” said Mr Sossion.
The national steering committee, chaired by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, had met yesterday morning to decide on the implementation of the new curriculum. KICD presented a detailed report on the phase one pilot programme that was rolled out last year.
Among the recommendations presented to the steering committee was that the national pilot for PP1, PP2 and Grade 1 and 2 be carried out in all schools.
This will allow indepth evaluation of the curriculum to address gaps and strengthen strategies for the national rollout in 2019.
They also proposed that pilot schools continue with implementation of the new curriculum in Grade 3 for evaluation of competencies.
KICD has asked the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to spearhead continuous teacher capacity development to support effective implementation of Grade 4.
They have also proposed that the examination council finalises development of the Assessment framework for Grade 5 and also complete the Sessional Paper.
According to KICD, the syllabus was developed by a team of experts that relied on a needs assessment study conducted countrywide
Knut has been opposed to the implementation of the new curriculum, citing gaps. Among the issues that Knut had raised are lack of training for teachers, failure to engage stakeholders and lack of training materials to guide the curriculum.
On Wednesday, however, Mr Sossion said they support the programme as long as all the issues they have raised will be looked into.
Earlier, Knut had written to the ministry of Education asking for an extension of the piloting period.
The union has been arguing that the period for piloting was too short. Mr Sossion had also argued that the union was yet to receive valuation findings from external and internal auditors.
Mr Sossion had argued that implementation of the new curriculum could create a gap in the education sector because teachers were not fully prepared and learning materials were yet to be provided and tested.
He had said the 8-4-4 system was tested for four years, and it would practically be impossible to roll out the new curriculum this year.
Mr Sossion had also protested that public views were not sought and there was no paper to guide the new curriculum.
However, in a change of tone, Mr Sossion said the activities lined up this year satisfy their concerns.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet) secretary general Akelo Misori said the new curriculum will help children to develop competency-based skills.
“Through the gradual rolling out of the programme, teachers will have enough time to be trained,” he said.
Kenya Publishers Association chairman Lawrence Njagi said they have developed books which have been approved by KICD for the use in the new curriculum. “Our books are practical, we have trained our editors and we shall be availing them to bookshops,” he said.
Kenya has been debating about education reforms for the past decade with the accent being change from 8-4-4 to a new system to suit the needs and aspiration of a nation seeking to industrialise and join the ranks of wealthy states in the next 12 years.
Despite all its positives, the current system has mainly been discussed in the negative. Yet none is perfect.
Soon after the enactment of the current Constitution, the Education ministry set up a taskforce to review the curriculum and align it to the emerging realities necessitated by the new constitutional order as well as economic and technological advancements.
That gave rise to what is being referred to as a “competence-based curriculum”. But it was not until last year that the review drive gathered momentum.
Finally, the government on Wednesday launched the roadmap for its rollout and clarified many gray areas that had given room for speculation.
The 2-6-6-3 curriculum will now be piloted across the country this year in pre-school up to Standard Three. However, its actual implementation will start in January next year from pre-primary to Standard Four.
Critically, the piloting provides a chance to test the content of the curriculum, train the teachers, craft a framework for examining it and create guidelines for publishers to develop teaching and learning resources.
Equally significant, the ministry can now develop the sessional paper, a policy document to guide implementation and, subsequently, prepare a legal framework for debate and approval in Parliament.
All along, the concern was that, whereas Kenyans want change, it is a major undertaking that must be done systematically and progressively. All the building blocks must be laid out properly and the necessary consultations done to ensure a complete buy-in.
The government ought to mount an intensive public communication campaign to sensitise the citizens on the rollout and content of the curriculum, as well as the role of parents, communities and other interest groups.
The transport and education sectors need a major shake-up. Poor student performance, frequent road accidents, bribery and fraud are the hallmarks of a systemic crisis progressively getting out of hand and causing wastage of public resources.
Death and serious injuries on highways impose a huge cost on the economy. The blame falls on the National Transport and Safety Authority’s (NTSA) failure to deliver on its mandate to improve road safety.
It’s not clear what the NTSA was supposed to do different from what traffic police were doing. Both the police and NTSA officers are preoccupied with ambushing speeding motorists by the day and chasing after drunk drivers at night.
The end-tale for errant motorists is the same. There are two options on the table: Face the courts or negotiate your way out. The police know how to tune up scared road users, who are always in a hurry. The more they threaten motorists with fire and brimstone, the more they extort.
The police and NTSA officers don’t really care about road safety and wastage of human life on the roads. Business is good when more motorists are breaking the law.
Road users are also to blame for breaking traffic regulations with impunity and bribing officials to escape sanctions. Most offenders would rather take the easier option than go through the burden of compliance.
The wastage on the roads can only stop if the road safety operations are entrusted to men and women who aren’t motivated by bribery and corruption. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission needs to step up its sting operations to arrest criminal police and NTSA officers, who should be subjected to lifestyle audits. But the EACC has a history of high-profile arrests with most of the cases it has tried to prosecute stuck in the bureaucracy of the courts.
Wastage through the education system has turned into a development crisis. The education authorities, teachers, parents, students and even the society share the blame for the mass failure of the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education candidates. Statistically, it is not possible to have only 11 per cent of the candidates (70,000 who scored C+ and above) achieve an average pass while the rest of the 615,773 fail to make the cut.
Such an outcome points to a serious breakdown in the factors that determine student performance. It creates an opportunity for the chosen few to proceed to university while condemning the masses to scramble for the few slots in colleges offering diploma and certificate courses. Those who are unable to secure a place are consigned to rot and waste.
Learning outcomes are the sum total of the intelligence of the students and the influence of their learning environment. The quality of the environment should, ideally, produce students who have basic skills that can be harnessed for Kenya’s socio-economic transformation.
The education system needs a major overhaul to give students hope and prepare them for the future of work and entrepreneurship.
The current outcomes fail to provide this much-needed link between education and demand for skills necessary to support productive economic activities.
The government and other education stakeholders need to diagnose the cause of the weaknesses in the system and find solutions to improve the learning outcomes. They need to assure students that going to school is not in vain but lays a foundation for their prosperity.
The future of the economy depends on an efficient transport system that facilitates movement of goods and services and an education system that produces labour with the right skills for development.
When the two sectors — transport and education — break down, the economy will falter and won’t realise the momentum for growth and social transformation.