The education sector is headed for major reforms as the New Year starts with far reaching changes aimed at enhancing quality of learning.
A look into both basic and higher education reveals major steps the government has lined up, including a complete change of what children will be taught and how teachers will be required to behave.
Also in focus is the second phase of reforming university education as Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said painful and necessary changes must be implemented.
But the immediate good news is that when schools open next year, parents will not part with any coin towards fees.
Free Secondary Education
The government will roll out free secondary education that will ease parents of the fees burden.
The government announced it is increasing capitation per child by some Sh9,374 per year starting January 2018.
This brings to Sh22,244, to total amount the government will now release per child per year in all secondary schools.
This means day schools fees will be fully catered for while boarding schools are set to charge between Sh40,000 and Sh53,000.
Parents will only be required to buy school uniforms for their children, meet lunch costs and boarding related levies that will only be reflected on fees structures.
The details are contained in implementation guidelines released by the Ministry of Education PS Belio Kipsang.
During the release of KCPE and KCSE examinations, Matiang'i said the planned implementation of the Free Day Secondary Education will commence on January 9, when schools reopen.
“Already, the government has set aside Sh56 billion for the programme next year. The import of this is that, from January, no child will be required to pay any tuition fees in any public secondary school,” Matiang’i said.
The government hopes to achieve the targeted 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary schools.
Alongside this is the implementation of the new textbooks policy where each form one student will receive six books on opening day.
Dr Matiang’i has cautioned that the Free Day Secondary Education cannot succeed unless students access relevant and quality teaching and learning materials.
He said studies have shown that better education outcomes are a result of quality teaching and access to learning materials. He said for a long time, the issue of textbook supply has not been handled well.
“Henceforth, the ministry is determined to ensure that every child accesses relevant reading and learning materials,” said Matiang’i.
He said the ministry has come up with a direct-to-school policy on book distribution that will ensure our public schools attain the 1:1 book ratio.
“This will also eliminate middle men who collude with corrupt school officials to steal from the government and our children,” said Matiang’i.
Under this policy, each Form One student reporting to public schools starting from January 9, 2018 will be supplied with six books on the core subjects of mathematics, English, Kiswahili, biology, chemistry and physics.
Speaking during the release of KCPE, Dr Matiangi said the government is aware that there still exist multiple hindrances to secondary education that we have to continue addressing in collaboration with other arms of government and stakeholders.
“These include insecurity, inhibitive cultural practices, indirect costs of secondary education, unfriendly learning environments and extreme poverty in households especially in arid and semi-arid areas,” he said.
And to supplement the 2018 education sector reforms, the teachers’ employer has moved high schoos principals even as teachers unions protested the move.
Big names from top schools have been affected in the country’s biggest mass transfer that has seen some 557 school principals and deputies moved effective January 1, 2018.
Those affected include 31 national schools whose teachers have been moved to schools of equal stature located in different counties from stations they have been serving.
Teachers Service Commission (TSC) CEO Nancy Macharia said the transfers have been affected in a new delocalisation programme also meant to promote national integration.
Macharia said the move is also meant to ensure fresh ideas are infused into institutions after long-stay of some head teachers in some schools.
She said the transfers will be implemented gradually until all the objectives of the reform measures are fully realised.
This initiative also aims at blending the rich mix of management skill by heads of top schools taking up new stations to promote productivity.
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary General Akello Misori has opposed the transfers.
Also protesting the transfer is Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Wilson Sossion who has even threatened a strike action to stop the process.
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This means that the education sector could be headed for another turmoil should the TSC and unions stand their grounds.
But the overall game changer in the basic education reforms will be the implementation of the new competency based curriculum.
Over the past two years, the Ministry of Education and stakeholders in the industry, have been working out plans to come up with a school curriculum that "reflects the wishes and aspirations of Kenyans".
The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has acknowledged that based on previous studies, the current curriculum has been widely criticised for failing to recognise and nurture the talents and interests of learners early enough.
The Summative Evaluation of the Curriculum (KIE, 2009) indicated that the curriculum content and its implementation was academic and examination oriented.
According to KICD Director Jwan Julius, the current curriculum makes little provision for the recognition of the learners’ potential, gifts and talents due to too much focus on examination.
This has contributed to increased drop out and wastage rates in the education sector as well as high unemployment, Jwan said.
Matiang’i said the planned changes to the education curriculum will gradually invest in the change that focuses on continuous evaluation.
“From January, we will roll out the curriculum in a methodical step-by step manner that will ensure great precision,” he said.
An implementation schedule seen by Saturday Standard reveals that starting 2018, only pre-primary and early grade classes of one to three are targeted for the roll out.
In 2019, the new curriculum will be rolled out for grade 4 and 5 and in 2020, the roll out will target grade six.
The document states that grade six will mark the end of primary education under the new 2-6-3-3 system of education.
Implementation of the new curriculum for grade seven will take place in 2021 as grade eight and nine roll out will be done in 2022 and 2023 respectively.
Overall, the assessments will be both summative and formative and will be done by Kenya National Examination Council (Knec).
The KICD document explains that grade 10 will be rolled out in 2024 and grade 11 and 12 in the subsequent years.
This means that the last Kenya Certificate of secondary Education (KCSE) examination will be administered in 2025.
Surgical reforms are also expected in universities as Matiang’i proposed far reaching changes that will affect several staff and students.
Universities management will also be affected as major decisions will be made to enhance quality learning.
Matiangi, in his presentation of status of university education to the to World Bank, said the sector has been hit by serious hitches that must be arrested to boost higher education.
He said Kenya has experienced unscientific expansion of universities at the expense of provision of quality education.
The number of universities, he said, has increased from 35 in 2012 to 70 in 2016.
Similarly, the number of students enrolled in universities has increased from more than 361,379 in 2012 to over 564,507 in 2016.
“This incredible growth has however resulted in challenges of delivering quality and relevant education,” said the Education CS.
He said these expansions have led to large ineffective class sizes and affected student /staff ratio.
He said inadequacy of appropriate academic staff, overcrowding of lecture halls, lack of adequate and appropriate teaching equipment and insufficient investment in research and innovation.
“The massive expansion of university education in Kenya has therefore raised the fundamental issue of quality…so far, we have put a three-year moratorium on the establishment of new university campuses and closed down under performing campuses,” said Matiang'i.
Speaking during a higher education stakeholder consultative meeting, Matiang'i spelt out the second phase of university reforms.
He said that starting 2018, universities will be required to hire staff on contract and abolish permanent and pensionable terms, saying the National Treasury can never sustain them.
Matiang'i also said universities will be required to declare and send all monies from parallel programmes to the National Treasury.
And that there will be a centralised management of university funds through the Universities Funding Board (UFB)
He said no more satellite campuses will be opened both locally or outside the country.
Matiang’i also said starting 2018, his Ministry will lay more emphasis on education quality and standards.