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Members of Parliament Demand Policy on School Uniforms

MPs have expressed dissatisfaction on the measures taken by the government to ensure liberalisation in the production of school uniforms.

In a meeting with National Assembly and Education CS Ezekiel Machogu, members of the National Assembly Implementation Committee faulted the ministry for doing little to eliminate a situation where parents are compelled to buy uniforms from specific suppliers.

The session chaired by Kajiado Central MP Memusi Kanchory said it is not enough for the ministry to continue issuing circulars on the issue they claim has offered avenue to fleece parents.

Kanchory said it is time the ministry makes it a policy to address the matter as opposed to issuing circulars.

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The Kajiado Central lawmaker was responding to a statement by Machogu that the ministry has issued circular to all school principals, cautioning against compelling parents to go to specific suppliers for the uniforms.

“A circular is not a policy, a circular is a communication of some information from the minister. You can set out a policy on standardisation and production of school uniforms in the country,” Kanchory said.

The CS was appearing before the committee chaired by Budalangi MP Raphael Wanjala to appraise the committee on the action taken regarding Parliament’s resolution on standardisation and production of school uniforms.

“We have taken up the issue of school uniforms and issued a circular.  We have put in clear terms as a ministry that parents must have a leeway and we must liberalise this… It will be up to the parent to source it from wherever as long as it meets the requirements of the schools,” the CS explained.

“I know there are people who contravene the circulars and directives issued, but the ministry is clear on the uniform purchase. We have taken some action in areas where people have violated these instructions and the Subcounty Directors of Education are implementing these directives, they have clear instructions.”

Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba who moved the motion also backed the formulation of a policy.

According to Wamuchomba, circulars are easy to ignore as opposed to a policy which is binding.

“My concern is the way the schools are playing around with the issue of uniform and creating a curtailed supply so that the demand can be higher and directed to one specific person. The issue of standardisation is coming in so that we do not struggle to know the right fabric…we have to standardise for us to be able to liberalise,” she said.

She added that many children from humble families will be forced to miss school because of uniform issues.

On standardisation, Machogu said it is a tall order owing to the various dynamics like weather and cost that would be incurred.

“School uniform has become some kind of tradition. Again, the climatic and weather conditions of this country vary from one place to another. If for example you go to a place like Timboroa where the temperatures can becomes so low and people required sweaters, the same may not be required in other areas like say Turkana,” he said.

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