Despite the expansion of educational facilities and the increased number of learners in schools, Tana-River County has continued to perform poorly in national examinations. The county’s dismal performance in national examinations can be traced from 1975 when the district nose-dived and emerged second last in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE).
This poor performance at the primary school level inevitably spilled over to the other levels of education. Predictably, when the country had four public universities and four private universities in 1993, Tana-River County by then know as Tana-River District had less than 20 students who were pursuing degree courses.
In the 1994 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), Tana-River District managed to have only one (1) student with a grade B Plain and three (3) students with grade B- out of the total of 400 KCSE candidates. The rest could not qualify for university entrance.
So people had been asking questions like “When did the rain started beating us?” or ” What is the problem of Tana-River Country?
I believe the following information gathered years back can relate to the current situation in Tana-River County. Same old problem just on different days.
The poor results can be attributed to the following factors:
- Lack of inspection. Routine inspection of schools in Tana-River District has virtually collapsed due to lack of transport and proper roads in the hinterland.
- Lack of physical facilities. Schools have no proper buildings. In some cases, classrooms, teachers houses, workshops and laboratories are either not adequate or they are non-existent.
- Lack of books. In most schools in the district, relevant books are lacking.
- Covering the syllabus. It is a fact that the Kenyan syllabus in schools is overloaded. However, teachers in the district do not strive to finish the syllabus on time.
- Weak Head teachers. Many schools in the district have weak head teachers who are unable to steer their institutions to greater heights.
- There is lack of competition. Unlike in other areas of the country where schools compete at the zonal level, district level or even among themselves, no such competition is evident in Tana-River District.
- Mixed schools in the district have contributed heavily to the dismal performance at secondary school level. No mixed school in the district has ever performed well.
- Under-staffing in both primary and secondary schools has contributed to the poor performance. There is no school in the district which has adequate teachers.
- There are more non-graduate teachers in the secondary schools which has compromised the quality of education in the district. In 1996, for instance, there were 61 Graduate teachers in the district against 91 non-graduate teachers teaching in secondary schools in Tana-River District.
- Lack of competent Board of Governors. Most of the members of school boards are hand-picked and they fail to meet the basic academic and leadership thresh-hold expected of Board of Governors that are capable of steering schools to great heights.
- Lack of centres of excellence. Tana-River District does not have a single model school to act as a centre of excellence. There is no motivation or role model for other schools in the district to emulate.
- Weak District Education Board (DEB). There has never been any major policy change geared at improving performance in the district. Major decisive policies in the education sector are supposed to be taken by the District Education Board. Major changes like separating boys and girls in a school, starting a boarding wing in a school, implementing reward/sanction policy in the management of schools, etc all lie squarely on the DEB.