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Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 16:56 GMT
Free secondary schools for Kenya
School students
Free education did cause problems when introduced at primary level
Kenya has introduced a free secondary schooling education programme with a target of raising student enrolment to 1.4 million by the end of the year.

President Mwai Kibaki said the government will pay tuition fees for students while parents will meet boarding costs and buy uniforms.

This was a key pledge in his campaign for last year's election.

violence over poll-rigging claims has left some 1,000 people dead and 600,000 displaced and many schools are closed.

His government introduced universal free primary education after he was first elected in 2002.

The government has released about $41m to pay for the first phase of the programme.

But experts argue that in view of the losses incurred during the violence, the government faces an uphill task in implementing the programme.

While launching the programme in Nairobi, President Kibaki said plans were afoot to expand existing facilities and recruit more teachers to cope with the extra demand.

Primary schools

In 2002, many primary schools were overstretched by unexpected high enrolment of students following the introduction of universal free primary education.

All that remains for one Kenyan school after being attacked

The number of primary school students has risen from 5m to more than 8m since the programme was launched.

The ministry of education now plans to introduce day wings in some boarding schools and double shifts in some urban schools to cope with the pressure.

"We are optimistic that these measures will accommodate the projected transition of students and I urge all parents to ensure no child fails to attend school," President Kibaki said.

But the Kenya National Union of Teachers asked the government to first address the safety of teachers and the need to reconstruct schools that were destroyed during the elections clashes.

"We are currently doing an audit but it's certain very many teachers and students have been affected by the violence and we are strongly appealing to the government to help so that learning can proceed in peace," said Francis Ng'ang'a, the teaching union's general secretary.

The government has also warned institutions against introducing illegal levies that may frustrate its efforts to boost countrywide secondary school enrolment.

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