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Friday, April 13th, 2018


Why Kenya must invest in human capital

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A country’s future lies in its people. That is why Kenya, like all other countries, must solve its current human development crisis if it has to achieve meaningful growth and development. It can solve the crisis by replicating the devolution structures already in place, by increasing international cooperation and by focusing on the poor.

This crisis can be solved in one generation if the government — both the national and county — focuses on the basics: health, education, basic nutrition and social protection.

Investment in people is important for two reasons. First, Kenya’s future economic growth will depend less on its natural resources, which are being depleted, and more on its labour skills and its ability to accelerate a demographic transition.


Accelerating the demographic transition to reduce population growth will require education, especially of women, and widely available reproductive health services.

Second, investing in people promotes their individual development and gives them ability to escape poverty. This again requires education and healthcare as well as some measure of income security. The government and most households have invested heavily in human development for many years. By 2000, this investment had started to pay off in much improved human development indicators. But in the recent years, these indicators are lagging behind.

There is need to focus on some critical factors that account for the slowdown in progress.


In only a few counties, fertility started to decline marking the last stage in demographic transition. There is need for allocation of higher spending and good access to maternal child health services.

Overall however, Kenya’s demographic transition remains slow. Kenya’s high fertility rate results not only in a rapidly growing population but also in a population with large portions of young people.

Low primary school enrolment seriously undermines economic growth and poverty reduction. Indeed, worldwide no country has enjoyed sustainable economic progress without literacy rates well over 50 per cent.

There is increasing reality of positive backward links between secondary and higher education and other parts of the system, especially teacher education.


General political commitment to human development is already in place. What is needed is sustained and specific political commitment. This involves focus, resources, and active involvement. Also, there is need for appropriate service delivery. Human development service delivery in Kenya should be based on two simple premises. First, most problems have well-known cost-effective interventions. Second, weak public institutions at national level means effective delivery must be based on strong community and private institutions.

Devolved delivery is possible now that county governments are in place. It is based on the simple concept of getting resources to where they are needed, and putting them more under the control of the immediate beneficiaries. This can include devolving to the sub-county level to autonomous schools and health centres, and much greater reliance on NGOs. What is common to these approaches is their proximity to the beneficiary so that there is increased accountability.

Prof Gesami is an economist and chair of the Nelson Mandela Centre for African Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. [email protected]

Dear sub-editor, get it right, or get out of the newsroom

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As a newspaper reporter or sub-editor, please bear in mind every minute that passes that accurate information delivered in a language that is correct, attractive and powerful is what your newspaper is in the marketplace to sell to the public. That — I daresay — is why your company has hired your sub-editorial services.

It has promoted you from the ranks of reporters and other writers because you have convinced its editorial and personnel managers  that you are capable of helping the company to sell goods that are qualitatively unsurpassed by those of any other newspaper company in the region.


It is thus that, whenever, through your own ignorance and shoddiness, your newspaper sells inaccurate information or information couched in incorrect, inferior  and unattractive language,  you are the one guilty of having caused the owners to cheat the buyers of your newspaper — namely, tens of thousands of East Africans and their visitors, the ubiquitous tourists, from all over the world.

Here is an example that occurred on page 2 of the Daily Nation on Tuesday, April 10. There, we read as follows in a caption:  “Deputy President William Ruto with Sudan’s First Vice-President and Prime Minister Bakri Saleh … and State Minister for Investment Osama Said when HE arrived in Khartoum for an official visit, yesterday…”


Didn’t it baffle you? Exactly who had arrived in the Sudanese metropolis? In the linguistically sensitive reader’s mind, the quoted sentence immediately raised a question mark as ugly as Medusa’s face — namely: Who was the “HE” that had “arrived” in the Sudanese metropolis? In other words, to whom was the pronoun “he” referring in that construction? Put still another way, exactly who had “arrived” in the Sudanese capital city that sprawls along the majestic Nile?

Indeed, in the above construction, to whom was the pronoun he referring? Was it to Mr Ruto or was it to Mr Saleh? In terms of correct English grammar, was it the Kenyan official or was it his Sudanese counterpart and visitor? From the newspaper’s way of putting it, the reader just cannot tell. In short, some reporter it is who has completely failed as a public information official.


It might help a great deal if, as a sub-editor, you bear in mind all the time that accurate information beautifully constructed is what your newspaper is in the marketplace to sell and that it is from such sales that you derive your own income. That was the question that the sub-editor who handled the above story raised when he or she wrote that extremely unfortunate headline.

He or she either does not know or had quite forgotten the source of the bread that keeps him or her and his or her family alive. The writer of that caption completely failed, not only his or her company, but also the whole journalistic profession. The latter, indeed, is why, in the court of language justice, even I (a retired newspaper editor) have a case against him or her.

Stop young people from joining criminal rings

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On March 28, 2018, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission launched a book tilted The Impact of Organised Gangs on Social Cohesion in Kenya.

The book is based on research study undertaken between November, 2016 and June, 2017.

The publication is not only timely but also useful as the nation reels from an extended political campaigns and electioneering window.

The findings in the book are not unusual but there exists some interesting tit bits that should jolt the nation into some form of thinking and strategic action.


The study found the proliferation of organised gangs was on the rise and that they are 90 per cent organised, financed and deployed by politicians.

This particular finding has a bearing on the type of leadership we obtained after the elections and Kenyans need to ask themselves — Are we better than those we elected?.

Another observation points towards some form of competition by ethnic groups and their leadership to not only form their own gangs but also to organise, finance and deploy them to counter opposing ethnic groups or use them to reign terror on opponents from a different ethnic group or political camp.

The organised gangs are spread across the country with the study covering fifteen counties of: Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Mombasa, Kwale, Bungoma, Kakamega, Siaya, Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyamira, Narok, Kisii, Bomet and Nyeri.


The research found that some gangs had children below 11 years, nearly 22 per cent of the gangs had children between 12 and 17 years, 33 per cent of the gangs had a membership of ages 18-35 years, 26 per cent of the gangs had a membership of ages 36-50 years while 13 per cent had a membership of 51 years and above (who are mostly founders and stategists).

In consolidating the numbers, one will not fail to notice that nearly 45 per cent of the organised gang membership has a direct bearing and or relationship with a school or institution of learning.

We have our children and the next generation being socialised and organised into crime by our political leadership that is hell bent on having an electorate that cannot question it or challenge it.

The study recommends a raft of measures and actions. Of all the recommendations for action that need urgent and purposeful investment from a strategic point is the recommendation to institute mechanisms for monitoring and preventing potential participation of school going children in organised gangs.


For this to happen successfully; teachers need to be at the centre of the proposed action.

Teachers need to undergo specific mentorship and support to professionally enhance their capacity for purposes of preventing, identifying, isolating and  supporting learners who maybe on the verge of joining organised gangs or those who have already joined.

The modern teacher is fraught with many challenges and managing learners on a day-to-day basis in a society that is forever changing and throwing new challenges their way is one of the most complex undertakings in a school today.

The Ministry of Education needs to keep investing and re-investing in the professional development of teachers.


The age profile of the organised gang membership is an early warning to along us. 

From the foregoing, it is either our children are in the gangs, our teachers or our parents. We need to think, act and invest strategically to stall the tide.

The education reform process is an avenue for sectors to collaborate and join hands.

Let us wake – up and Stand – up for our children. Time is now. Tomorrow will be too late to right the wrongs of today.

Deputy governor nominee Karugu to prove what she has

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Although Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga had said his choice of deputy would be a “shocker”, few expected a young female economist without political backing to be nominated.

Ms Caroline Wanjiru Karugu’s nomination on Thursday came as a surprise considering she was not among the tens of names floated.

Born and raised in Nyaribo village, Kiganjo, Ms Karugu had never featured in the county’s politics and her nomination for some was a kick in the teeth.

The 39-year-old economist came to the limelight after former governor Dr Wahome Gakuru’s death, featuring prominently in the team tasked to make burial arrangements.


Sunday might have marked her political debut when she attended a fundraiser at New Life Ministries Church in Nyeri with other leaders among them Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, his ICT colleague Joe Mucheru, Mr Kahiga and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria. She did not speak at the event.

While the identity of Mr Kahiga’s preferred candidate had remained a closely-guarded secret, her presence at the function might have spoken volumes.

During an interview on Citizen TV on Wednesday, the governor declined to disclose his choice reiterating that his deputy would not be any of the expected front-runners.

An hour before her name was tabled at the assembly on Thursday, social media was awash with congratulatory messages and her résumé uploaded on the county’s website. Given that she is not a common face, only two of her professional photos were making rounds. Her appointment will bring to eight the number of female deputy governors.


For Mr Kahiga, the decision had been a delicate balancing act. It, however, provided an opportunity to assert himself as governor by picking a personal friend and not bowing to pressure from powerful politicians.

Members of Dr Gakuru’s secretariat were fronting Dr Stephen Gachie from Mukurwe-ini. The PhD holder was seen as the best bet to drive Dr Gakuru’s vision given that he was one of the drafters of his manifesto.

Those who campaigned for him said he was bringing on board wits that march those of Dr Gakuru and experience spanning 14 years in managerial positions.

Contacted, Dr Gachie congratulated Ms Karugu, but registered his reservations. “I wish to congratulate her for her nomination. She has the experience, but what is she bringing to the table in terms of a vision?” he asked.

Ms Karugu, who was recently picked by President Uhuru Kenyatta as an independent non-executive director of the Geothermal Development Company board, has vast experience in the private and public sectors.

She holds a Bachelor’s of Commerce from Daystar University and a Global Executive MBA (Strategy) from USIU in partnership with the Frankfurt School of Finance in Germany. She is currently a doctorate candidate.

Ms Karugu is also the CEO of Jabali Microserve Ltd, a commercial subsidiary of Jitegemee Trust. In 2010, she won the prestigious World Young Credit Union Professionals award in the US.


Mr Kahiga yesterday said his nominee was competent and right for the job. He added that nominating Ms Karugu will give women a voice in the running of the county.

“There has been a lot of bashing of women from this area. This will change the face of the typical Nyeri woman. I believe she has the energy to deliver,” said the governor.

Currently, she is a candidate for a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree in Finance at USIU-A in collaboration with the Columbia Business School in New York.

Ms Karugu is also the chief executive officer of Jabali Microserve Ltd, a commercial subsidiary of Jitegemee Trust.

In 2010, she won the prestigious World Young Credit Union Professionals award sponsored by the World Council of Credit Unions in the United States.

Nominated MCA Julia Mukami described her as an administrator and a hardworking woman.

The county boss yesterday said his nominee was competent and right for the job. He added that nominating Ms Karugu will give women a voice in the running of the county.

“There has been a lot of bashing of women from this area. This will change the face of the typical Nyeri woman. I believe she has the energy to deliver,” she said.

Stop shaming these teens, teach them the good ways

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If you are a parent to a teenager, click on the hashtag IfikieWazazi at your own risk. It is bad.

Teenagers are now taking pictures of themselves while naked. And the pictures are disgusting.

The old me would have gone all the way to describe the photos in astounding detail, but since I am a reformed and recovering controversial columnist, I am going to stick with safe words such as “improper” and “immoral”, hoping you will understand the magnitude of dishonourableness we are talking about here.

Kenyans on social media, in their Solomon wisdom, decided that the best way to handle a scandal of this enormity would be to humiliate these teenagers by sharing these photos hence the hashtag IfikieWazazi (let it reach their parents).

IfikieWazazi is not a call to morality for our teenagers. Let us call it what it is.

IfikieWazazi is a sadistic online bullying movement pushed by irresponsible adults.

It is a poorly thought-out, unfair and hypocritical crusade that seeks to humiliate teenagers and consequently destroying their lives for good.

Most importantly, IfikieWazazi is a criminal offence known as “revenge pornography” and I would like to challenge the police and relevant authorities to track down the people behind this hashtag, arrest them, shame them, charge them and jail them.

If the police can find the person conning MPs and sending them naked pictures within a week, then they should live up to their utumishi kwa wote (service to all) philosophy and track down the people responsible for this shameful trending topic.

And to the adults fanning this flame, shame on you. Those teenage girls are other people’s daughters, for God’s sake.

What value does sharing pictures of a naked teenager on your social media account add to your life?

And now, to the elephant in the room.

Why would a teenage girl, barely 20, strip naked and take pictures alongside a young man humiliating her?

I blame the adults, and especially those rabid feminists among us who have drilled it into the minds of young women that your body is yours, and you can do whatever you like with it, including taking naked pictures.

These teenagers have grown up in a culture of toxic feminism that encourages women to “do whatever they want with their bodies”.

Not long ago, pseudo feminists encouraged women to post pictures of their naked bosoms to apparently “celebrate” their bodies because feminism is best practiced naked.

What followed was a barrage of pitch-black areolas and massive bosoms from women across the country in the name of “emancipation”.

Little wonder that one teenager fiercely supported her peers and said: “…if I decide to show off my body, like it is mine, I will show it off till the day I die…” Sounds familiar?

How do you expect teenagers to behave if all they see is pictures of perverted women masquerading as ‘feminists’ posting their naked bosoms in the name of equality?

I also remember as a fierce critic of women exposing themselves on social media, I was severely objurgated and accused of being a retrogressive “foot soldier of patriarchy”.

Now, the same people are chastising the poor teenagers for doing exactly what they do on social media; posting naked photos.

Secondly, we will be massively misguided to push toxic hashtags like IfikieWazazi thinking these teenagers will reform or even care at all.

It is hypocritical to admonish these teenagers for stripping and taking pictures, while we celebrate and tolerate women representative aspirants who take equally sexy pictures for their campaign billboards.


When we tolerate and reward women like that, who have shown beyond doubt that it is your behind and not your brains that will get you to the Senate, we are sending a strong message to teenagers that sex does not only sell, it takes you to high places.

Also, why are we vilifying young people for showing their nakedness, while we have a parliament full of nefarious charlatans who take pictures with their juvenile lovers?

Shaming teens for taking nude pictures is wrong and mistaken.

These little ones are a reflection of what they see on the billboards, on social media and in parliament.

If we do not want teenagers to strip in the streets and take pictures of themselves in their underwear, then let us start by changing the man in the mirror.

George Herbert Mead and his protégé Herbert Blumer, the key proponents of Symbolic Interactionism, argue that people interpret messages and assign meaning to events based on their “imputed meanings”.

This is where the idea of multiple realties stems from, that people derive meaning and make decisions based on their subjective understandings of their environment.

It occurs to me that my column last week was severely misunderstood because it was more confusing than the newly marked “red” lane on Thika road.

A column that was meant to set the record straight ended up scaring my readers out of their wits, thinking that I was finally heeding to the calls of my critics to terminate my column and leave the group altogether.

Contrary to reports by bogus bloggers, I am happy to report that I am absolutely, positively, not terminating this column – at least to the best of my knowledge, neither am I leaving Nation Media Group.

I will say what I meant to say in black and white. “City Girl” is all grown up now.

She is changing her content, expect her to be less controversial and more thoughtful. Simply, City Girl is here to stay, but she is rebranding.

Muguka crop destroying lives of young people

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There is a stimulant crop grown in Embu County called ‘muguka’, which is silently destroying families.

The people of Embu should accept that money is not everything.

Our future is at stake. Embu is a productive area, considering its proximity to Mt Kenya forest.

The county can produce agricultural products all year round.

However, since adopting muguka farming, and money matters aside, the county is suffering.


Education has been affected, going by recent exam results.

Though money is now flowing to families on a daily basis, the sad thing is that the money is not being invested wisely.

Anytime one passes through muguka farming zones, one finds young boys by the roadside chewing the leaves, be it on schooldays or weekends.

This carefree lifestyle will surely lead to crime. The youth are always in a drunken stupor. Nothing worries them.

SCHOOLSMY STORY: Living on the street did not kill my ambitions

MP Osotsi: I only have a problem with Mudavadi's strategy

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The reinstatement of nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi, as the Amani National Congress (ANC) secretary-general puts him in a precarious position with party leader Musalia Mudavadi as the two have not being seeing eye to eye since the August 2017 election.

On Thursday, the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal ruled that Mr Barrack Muluka was not validly elected the party’s secretary-general following an appeal by Mr Osotsi and some party members.

The tribunal ruled that the purported ouster of Mr Osotsi on October 12 last year and his subsequent replacement with Mr Muluka was unlawful.

The ANC members led by Mr Kyalo Mbobu (chairman), Mr Hassan Abdi and Ms Desma Nungo, although in support of Mr Osotsi, were opposed to a plea to bar Mr Muluka from contesting the position if elections are called.

However, a day later, the High Court stayed the decision of the tribunal pending the hearing and determination of a case Mr Muluka had filed.

The judge certified as urgent the case filed by Mr Mudavadi together with Ms Margaret Emonde, Mr Kelvin Lunani and Mr Muluka.

Mr Mudavadi, through lawyer Dan Ameyo, argued that the case was taken before the tribunal before the complainants exhausted a party dispute mechanism.

But even as the High Court issued the orders, the nominated MP said he has no problem working with Mr Mudavadi and that he would support his presidential bid, saying their differences are purely ideological.

“My party leader is a person that I respect highly. His political strategy after the August 2017 elections, which is not leading us anywhere, is what I have issues with. He must be ready to be advised from time to time,” he said.

Mr Osotsi and Senators George Khaniri (Vihiga) and Cleophas Malala (Kakamega) are some of the figures in ANC who have been accused of being too close to ODM leader Mr Raila Odinga.

They have been labelled “rebels without a course”.

“Mr Odinga was our presidential candidate and we share with him quite a lot, especially on the issue of electoral justice.

“We are all in Nasa and we believe in its ideology and philosophy. The fact that we differ politically doesn’t mean that we are enemies,” he said.

TSC should listen to teachers' voice on appraisal row

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Back in 2010, quality assurance and standards personnel from the ministry of Education visited the school I was teaching in then.

As a routine, they demanded to inspect teachers’ ‘tools of trade’, as they called them.

These included schemes of work, records of work books, lesson notes and lesson plans and files containing learners’ progress reports, amongst many others.

We complied. Only one member of staff had all these.

The rest of us, in a staff of 27, including the principal, had one or more documents missing.

After perusal, we were given a lengthy lecture on how ‘lazy’ we had become, and that only one of us merited a recognition in a public forum, notably, the school’s Annual General Meeting, and that the institution would be posting better results were we to emulate our colleague.

After the exit of the QASO personnel, the entire staffroom burst into laughter.

Months later, the teacher in question was transferred following complaints from parents and learners over his below par delivery and alcoholism.

Fast forward to today, and the Teachers Service Commission remains adamant on its implementation of the infamous Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development (TPAD).

Protests by teachers’ unions have fallen on deaf ears.

Forget the inked CBA, which included the withdrawal of the TPAD, the teachers’ employer has stuck to its finality that teachers must be appraised.

As a teacher, I must say we have no objections to appraisals.

However, in its current form, the process is not only reducing teachers to clerical officers but is a complete waste of learners’ valuable time.

I have served in the commission for 10 years and I must say this is a poorly thought out strategy and its implementation is wanting.

It has zero additional value to the learners and the teachers.

Schools that have a comparatively good performance have dumped this document and they only go fishing for it at the end of the term as a formality.

The commission should come down from its hardline position and listen to the teachers.

The document has greater weaknesses than value. It is only good when the principal or the commission wishes to “fix” a teacher.

Apart from that, TPAD offers nothing good to the teaching profession.

If the commission insists that the document remains, teachers will begin cooking figures just to please their employer.

For now we remain optimistic, hoping against all odds that TSC will open its doors and listen to the voice of reason.

Details of grand health scheme for students unveiled

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Details of the grand health scheme President Uhuru Kenyatta launched yesterday for secondary school students can be revealed.

If it is executed as planned, the NHIF cover will be a revolution in the education sector as well as the health sector.

A breakdown of the Sh4 billion-a-year cover, seen by the Saturday Nation, shows that all students in public secondary schools will be insured for treatment of all kinds of injuries and diseases including cancer and Aids.

Those who lose limbs inside school or during educational activities will also be entitled to prosthetic replacements at the insurer’s cost.


Students will also get their surgery costs footed, will be entitled to ambulances on land and on air and will qualify for reimbursement of costs incurred for treatment abroad.

Even male circumcision will be covered under its outpatient provisions, same as guaranteed access to vaccines against Rota virus and rabies.

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday said the students’ cover is a product of negotiations between the Education ministry and NHIF.

He ordered NHIF to ensure all learners are able to use it when schools reopen for the second term in May.

NHIF, he added, must also ensure that hospitals involved in the programme are as near to secondary schools as possible.


“The provider must ensure that students access medical services close to the schools. I’m gratified to hear that there are schools that have already started to enlist matrons and nurses to help provide first responder care,” he said at State House during the 2018 Kenya National Drama Festival State Concert.

The president praised the cover as a revolutionary intervention that will ensure students are in school most of the time.

“It is unique to the students since it covers an individual student, unlike the ordinary ones that cover an entire household,” he said.

NHIF chief executive Geoffrey Maina welcomed the launch saying the fund is ready for the task.


“The launch of the comprehensive NHIF medical scheme for secondary school children is called for because quite often, incidences like fires and accidents have elicited a public outcry and the immediate action is an appeal to the government to step in and offset the medical costs of treating the students, clearing medical bills as well as funeral expenses,” he said.

A parents’ representative yesterday welcomed the cover, terming it a welcome relief.

“It will go a long way in solving problems that parents have had for so many years,” said Mr Nicholas Maiyo, the Kenya National Parents Association chairman who was in a team the Education ministry consulted three weeks ago on the cover.

Mr Kahi Indimuli, the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) chairman, praised the product, describing it as “better than what the teachers may be getting with AON”.

But he said it should incorporate school sanatoriums and not just hospitals registered with NHIF.


“A student has to go to a facility outside the school to benefit. So we are saying, ‘how do the schools benefit in the same?’ Can the fund support sanatoriums?” Mr Indimuli posed.

In the cover, those like Virleah Wambui who spent 26 agonising days in hospital last year after sustaining burns in a dorm fire at Moi Girls High School will leave their families with an entitlement of Sh100,000 for funeral expenses.

There is also Sh500,000 in life cover to be paid to the family for any student’s death while in school or an educational function.

Virleah was in the intensive care unit for all those days incurring a hefty bill.


Yesterday, Virleah — fondly known as Bubbles — was celebrated posthumously by family and friends at Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens.

It would have been her 15th birthday had she survived the September 2, 2017 fire tragedy that claimed the lives of 10 Form One girls.

Her mother Maryanne Mwangi, who has been inconsolable ever since her loss, appeared determined to let bygones be bygones.

On matters relating to compensation, affected Moi Girls parents are awaiting the outcome of a case against a student who has been charged with arson.

Had the incoming policy been in place when the tragedy happened, by now the parents could have received compensation. Ms Mwangi said she had not received a coin from the government.

The document in our possession indicates that the government will pay Sh1,350 per year for every learner, with the number of secondary school students estimated at three million.

“The scheme does not have exclusions save for cosmetic/beauty treatment or surgeries,” it says.

Expenses that ordinarily make parents jittery like laboratory tests, X-ray services, prescription drugs, consultation fees and treatment of chronic illnesses will be covered.

“In-patient physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are also covered,” the document says.

“All treatment as prescribed by the attending clinician or doctor are covered, accidental reconstructive surgery is covered but cosmetic treatment in nature shall not be covered,” it adds.


Students will also be assured of treatment for problems pertaining to their teeth and eyes.

Those who will be admitted in hospitals will also enjoy full cover throughout their stay, provided they are in facilities that have a contract with NHIF.

“Bed entitlement for inpatient services shall be accessed in government healthcare providers, ward bed rooms in mission/faith-based healthcare providers and private hospitals,” the document says.

Even those who will be nursed from home will not have to pay for the services, thanks to the cover.

In fact, a student injured in any school-related event even outside their institution’s premises is covered.


“The scheme shall ensure portability of services even when students are on educational functions outside their school or during school closure,” it says.

A staffer at insurance firm Sanlam Kenya, who we cannot name as she had not been authorised to speak on behalf of her employer, described the cover as “very good”, saying that if the government delivers what it had promised, then Kenyan learners have healthy days ahead.

“No insurer in Kenya has such a cover for children under the age of 18. They are mostly included in their parents’ policies,” she said.

The Sanlam staffer noted that if parents were to personally pay for a cover with equal provisions, each student would have to pay at least Sh7,000 a month.

The Education ministry cover, the breakdown states, applies to all learners — whether their parents are remitting monies to NHIF or not.

“Members shall be registered and issued with biometric cards for identification and access service,” it says. “The waiting period for new members will be set as zero days. The cover commences immediately upon registration and payment of premium into the scheme.”

Mr Maiyo, the parents’ association chair, said one of the benefactors’ biggest burdens may be a thing of the past.

“Whenever a child was injured in school, we used to carry the burden. The first thing the principal does is to call the parent, maybe when the child gets injured in the field or is in a fire tragedy or any other accident. Normally, parents shoulder the medical bill,” said Mr Maiyo.


But the Kessha chair foresees problems. One of them is that medical facilities may unnecessarily admit students so as to get higher NHIF remittances.

Mr Indimuli noted that besides the cover provided, the ministry should equip school sanatoriums.

“If a school has a certain number of students, the fund can employ a nurse, or if the school has a thousand-plus, the fund can employ a clinical officer so that some of the cases can be managed within the school with good professionals,” he said.

The devil is in the detail: Why agencies differ on accident numbers

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Different sources put the road death toll in Kenya at between 3,000 and 13,000 lives lost per year. Why does it vary so much and which is the most accurate figure?

The answer to just how many people die on the road depends on who you ask.

The national transport authority put it at 2,965 for 2016, while the official statistics agency had it as 4,809 people. Then there’s the World Health Organisation (WHO), which says between 3,000 and 13,000 people die each year on Kenya’s roads.

Different totals for the number of people dying each year on Kenya’s roads are reported by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and the Health ministry.


What explains the variation and which one is the closest to right?

NTSA told Africa Check they only report police data. However, underreporting is a concern as the police need to follow up on injured people, the authority’s Nairobi manager for strategies, Mr Samuel Musumba, said.

Police spokesman Charles Owino said officers are supposed to update their reports. “If a person dies while being treated, we do a follow-up report. We add the death to our list of fatalities until all the injured persons are discharged and we know there are no more fatalities,” said Mr Owino.

He added: “I believe that it is done well, unless a question arises, for example, due to differences with registration figures. In such cases, we would go back and investigate the particular police station.”

The Health ministry has a civil registration and vital statistics unit that collects data on births and deaths. This information is then shared with the official data agency.


But inaccurate records are a major headache, said the head of the unit, Mr Samuel Cheburet.

“A person is involved in an accident and is admitted to hospital where a file is created for them. The patient can develop other complications which the hospital can manage, so the records say a ruptured spleen was the cause of death, but they are not telling us it was an accident that gave rise to that,” said Mr Cheburet.

WHO’s death toll of between 3,000 and 13,000 is not supposed to be a range, but two separate sources of data, Dr Margie Peden said. She is an associate at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and until recently coordinated the unintentional injury prevention section at WHO.

The number of “approximately 3,000” comes from the data on road traffic deaths that the Kenyan government supplies to WHO based on police records.


But WHO also uses death certificate data, but Peden noted it is “not as well covered as we would like it to be”.

Fewer than half of all deaths in Kenya were registered between 2012 and 2016.

“We know that most countries around the world have an issue with underreporting, ranging from a small percentage in high-income countries to 50-70 per cent in some low and middle-income countries,” she said.

“Very often when you look at police data there is an urban bias, so that deaths are reported in the urban areas but in the deep rural areas that reporting doesn’t happen to the same degree. There are sometimes political and cultural reasons why deaths are not reported to the police,” she added.


Therefore, WHO applies a statistical model to the Health ministry’s data. It takes into account 12 variables “that are known to be predictive of road deaths”, such as road density, speed limits and alcohol consumption.

By this calculation, WHO’s best estimate is that 12,891 people died on Kenya’s roads in 2013, with the organisation 95 per cent sure that the total lies between 10,809 and 14,974 people during that year.

If police data is the only source relied on to compute the death rate per 100,000 people in Kenya, the country’s roads would rank as some of the safest in the world, Dr Peden added. “I don’t believe that’s a possibility,” she said.

Africa Check calculated the 2013 death rate at 7.7 per 100,000 people based on police data and the statistics agency’s population estimate for that year. This rate places Kenya in the company of countries like Hungary and Estonia.

But WHO estimated Kenya’s death rate at 29.1 per 100,000 people for 2013, which landed Kenya in the 20 worst countries worldwide for road deaths.

NTSA said they are seeking to increase the accuracy of their data. “We are trying to improve on our data so we do not only rely on the police,” Mr Musumba said. “We want to have an agreement with the Health ministry so that we can share more information.”

Until road death data better reflects the reality, commentators must keep the current uncertainty in mind.

From observing 256,851 motorcycle users between August 2010 and December 2014, researchers found that fewer than 40 per cent of motorcycle drivers in Thika and Naivasha wore helmets. Among passengers, it dropped to a paltry 2.8 per cent in Thika and 2.4 per cent in Naivasha.