Stakeholders locked out of Junior Secondary policy making

The Ministry of Education's admission that it has developed policies that will be used to run Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) without direct involvement of parents and other stakeholders is a violation of the Constitution, and a recipe for chaos in the sector.

There was no public participation in developing policies for JSS, which is contrary to Section 8(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act that makes it mandatory for consultations to be undertaken before statutory instruments are made. It was widely held that the formation of State Department for Implementation of Curriculum Reforms would facilitate smooth integration of Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) into Kenyan education system. Apparently, this has turned out not to be the case.

Statutory Instruments means any policy, rule, regulation, guideline or a by-law. In this case, JSS policies are statutory instruments, which will have to be gazetted to acquire legal recognition. However, this cannot be lawfully done with the exclusion of stakeholders. Section 8(1) of the Act provides that before a regulation making authority, in this case, the Ministry of Education, makes regulations, the ministry shall hold consultations with persons who are likely to be affected by the proposed instrument.

Section 8(3) provides that the consultation shall involve notification, either directly or by advertisement of bodies or organisations representing persons who are likely to be affected by the proposed instrument or invite submissions or hold public hearings on the proposed instrument. There were no notifications, invites or public hearings.

Section 6 of the Statutory Instruments Act provides that if the proposed statutory instrument is likely to impose significant costs on the citizenry, the regulation-making authority (ministry) shall, prior to making the statutory instrument, prepare a regulatory impact statement about the instrument and share it with the stakeholders for scrutiny – this was never done as the principal stakeholders were excluded from the entire policy formulation process.

The ministry has further revealed that the policies outline the formation of transition committees at the county, sub-county and school levels – which will come at a price. Precisely, stakeholders' pressing concerns are adequate teacher training on CBC, appropriate infrastructure, inadequacy of teaching tools, enrolment, retention and 100 per cent transition. In sum, stakeholders have been denied opportunity to dialogue on JSS policies.

This is likely to compromise the quality of CBC. The country has over 300,000 jobless teachers who should be absorbed in public schools to resolve teacher shortage – TSC has placed teacher shortfall at 114,000. Since JSS policies contain critical issues, collaborators should be allowed to dialogue exhaustively on the new curriculum before further action is taken. Policies are public property.  

Mr Sossion is a member of Parliamentary Committee on Education and Labour