Friday, August 19, 2022

Kenya

Knut predicts a crisis as CBC pupils join junior high in 2023

The transition of learners from primary to junior secondary schools under the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) system is expected to be shambolic and could disrupt the education system.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) says there is a looming crisis in schools due to lack of proper public participation, failure to engage curriculum experts at inception and hurried deployment of the new system.

Mr Stanley Mutai, Knut first national vice-chairman, said the ongoing government programme to build 10,000 classrooms when more than 30,000 are required is a recipe for chaos and will result in the lowering of standards of education.

Mess up the sector

“While the Competency Based Curriculum is generally good, the hiccups clearly manifesting themselves in the implementation of the programme [confirm] how some technocrats in government, perhaps with political prodding, without engaging key stakeholders, will mess up the sector in the coming months,” said Mr Mutai.

A total of 1.4 million learners are expected to join secondary schools next year under the new education system, even as it becomes increasingly clear that the government is ill-prepared for the rollout.

“Currently, secondary schools across the country are over-enrolled, the infrastructural facilities – classrooms, dormitories, laboratories, dining halls and libraries – are overstretched, yet we are only six months to implementing a double intake in the institutions in what will aggravate the situation by more than 100 percent,” said Mr Mutai

Mr Mutai said in Bomet County, where he was flanked by Knut officials Malel Langat (branch executive secretary), Paul Sang (assistant secretary), Peter Rono (treasurer) and Mr Stanley Cheruiyot (chairman), said there was an urgent need to re-examine the system and find an immediate remedy so as to reinforce confidence among stakeholders.

Shortage of teachers

There is a shortage of teachers in primary and secondary schools, with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) secretary and CEO Nancy Macharia putting the figure at 114,581.

“Kenya has 300,000 trained but unemployed teachers, with the government replacing only 5,000 who exit service yearly due to natural attrition. That is a drop in the ocean and there is a need to increase the budgetary allocation to employ more teachers,” said Mr Langat, a Knut National Executive Council member.

Shortages of classrooms have compounded the challenges and this is expected to worsen next year.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had directed the Ministry of Education to build 10,000 additional classrooms for the junior secondary school learners and deliver the projects by March 7, 2022, but only 6,497 have been constructed in the first phase of implementation, according to CS George Magoha.

Prof Magoha has said the remaining 3,500 classrooms will be delivered before the end of the year, even as the Jubilee administration has only two months in office before handing over to a new government after the August 9 General Election.

President Kenyatta, who is serving his second and last term, is expected to hand over the instruments of power to a new President after the election.

Pioneer junior secondary school

Grade Six learners are expected to sit their exams in November and transit to Grade Seven as the pioneer junior secondary school (JSS) class in January 2023 under the CBC system.

“The expected double intake of 8-4-4 and CBC students will create a crisis that has the potential [to cause] a collapse of the education system in the country. Unfortunately, the formulation and implementation matrix was hurriedly done,” said Mr Mutai.

Prof Magoha has called on privately owned schools to come to the government’s rescue by retaining learners in their institutions under the junior secondary school (JSS) model.

“It would be very important for the parents who already have children in private schools to retain them in JSS that have been established within those schools so that the cut-throat competition that comes after Standard Eight can be postponed to year nine,” Prof Magoha said while on a tour of Moi Educational Centre in Nairobi.

Mr Charles Ochome, the Kenya Private Schools Association chairman, has said the sector was putting up 5,000 classrooms for the JSS section and that 1,290 were ready for use.

President Kenyatta said on Madaraka Day that the CBC programme initiated in 2019 to replace the 8-4-4 system will be implemented.

“Given the manifest successes achieved in this short period of time, there is no turning back with respect to the Competency Based Curriculum,” President Kenyatta stated.

100pc transition policy

The government’s 100 per cent transition policy for students from primary to secondary schools has been cited as a major issue contributing to pressure on infrastructure.

Deputy President William Ruto, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party presidential candidate under the Kenya Kwanza coalition, has pledged to reform the education system, increase budgetary allocations to the sector and engage the public and other stakeholders on CBC implementation if he is elected. 

Dr Ruto says his administration would hire 116,000 teachers within two years (58,000 yearly) to close the skewed teacher-learner ratio to the tune of Sh50 billion.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the Azimio la Umoja Kenya Kwanza coalition’s presidential flag-bearer, has pledged to provide free education.

Mr Odinga, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader, has said he would initiate reforms in the education system to ensure the government provides free education from early childhood to university.

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