After seven years of primary education back in the 1990s,pupils would spend some few months waiting for the examination results by doing various things.
Majority of the primary school graduates would stay at home helping their parents or visit relatives.
Currently, things have changed as many pupils have to join some secondary schools for pre Form I classes while others has to attend some camps meant to train them on life skills.
Many parents and other stakeholders in the education sector have been left wondering why children no longer have time to rest. Some have raised concerns about the importance of having pre-Form I classes as well as life skill camps.
Derek Rutinisa is a teacher at Tabata Secondary School. He says pre-Form I classes are meant to prepare pupils to start secondary education with at least an introduction of what he or she will be expected to learn at that level.
He says, in most government schools, pupils learn all the subjects in Kiswahili so they are gradually introduced to English at this point. He says the introduction of pre-Form I classes came as a way of boosting education standards in the country, however at some point, others considered it as a way of making money as most of the schools charge parents for this service.
“Swahili language being a major language of communication in public primary schools, the pre-Form I classes came as a way of introducing them to English,” says Rutinisa.
He says parents have to part with some money since the schools have to pay teachers who are offering such services and buy other learning materials. People fail to differentiate between fee free education and paying for the education to support the production costs of the private schools as they end up believing pre-Form I classes is a source of only generating income while it is not.
‘‘Parents and teachers need to sit and discuss together the importance of pre-Form I classes as this will clear the doubts of parents being conned by some schools offering the pre-Form I idea,’’ he adds.
Available information from Grace Inc, a local firm that deals with organizing summer boot camp programmes for children from age 5 up to 21 years shows the camps aims at equipping them to face the challenges of today and live what they love.
The modules include etiquette and manners, confidence building, financial management, presentation, prioritisation, decision making and dealing with bullying and peer pressure, etc.
These modules are age appropriate for 5-6, 7-9, 10-13, 14-17, 18-21 years. This trainings take place during the holidays and fees charged is Sh200,000/- per child for 10 days.
Elizabeth Masinde,42, is a mother of two children and a banker. She strongly objects the pre-Form I idea and boot camps though both her children went through the pre-Form I classes.
She had no choice than to let her children be enrolled for pre-Form I classes as she wanted the best schools for her children. But if she had another option, she wouldn’t have paid such amount of money for just four months.
She says, it is a parent’s duty to train his or her children on everything. She believes in the process of training children to be responsible adults, they create a bond and get unique experience of what it takes to become a better parent.
“Our parents groomed us on everything. Back then we knew nothing about boot camps or even pre-Form I. It created a room for parents to raise their own children and teach them on how they should live their lives in future,” says Elizabeth.
She adds that parents have become too busy to raise their own children to a point where they leave it to paid for programmes to take in their children not knowing exactly what they are taught in these boot camps.
Unlike Elizabeth, Justus Buregi, 45, supports the idea of pre-Form I classes and boot camps.
He says, if parents are too busy to get enough time for their children, then they should pay the organisations offering boot camps to take in these children with their development.
“I am not saying that parents should run away from their parenting jobs but they should be given time to work and bring food on the table dedicate the limited time they have for their children,” says Buregi.
Adding to that he says, a parent has to make sure he or she is satisfied with the level of professionalism of where the child will be enrolled for such programmes. He states that Grace Inc offers a special package for Standard VII at Sh250,000 and among other things they train on communication and use of social media, emotional intelligence, moodiness, stress, depression and anger management.
The programme also train on relationships with parents, friends, siblings and setting boundaries on the kinds of relationships to have.
Mary Ndoba,32, is a medical doctor who went through pre-Form I classes. She says although she was not happy to be involved with the pre Form I classes soon after she competed her primary education, it helped her to sharpen her understanding compared to the rest who joined her class without going through pre-Form I classes.
“I had planned to visit my relatives soon after my Standard VII examinations but I had no choice than to join pre-Form I class as my parents enrolled me,” says Mary.
An official from HakiElimu who sought anonymity since he is not the official spokesperson said the practise has positive impact however at the same time it is money consuming for parents and brings a bad feeling for the parents who cannot afford such fee for their children.
He says that, it makes it easy for the pupils to understand what to expect when they resume classes. But the question is, are the teachers teaching with the same pace as required when these pupils officially start their Form I classes.
Fees for pre-Form I pupils differs from school to school however majority of the pupils go for three months. Some schools charge Sh150,000 per month while some charge Sh200,000.
Efforts to get comments from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training was not fruitful however the government does not recognise the availability of the practice.