Kuppet wants state to move JSS to secondary school

Kakamega Applegate School Grade 6 pupils match along Kakamega streets on their way to their institution after examinations on November 2, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

A teacher’s union has faulted the rollout of junior secondary school (JSS) terming it a flop, one year after the transition.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) said it was wrong to have domiciled the JSS in primary schools claiming that for the last year, proper learning did not take place.

The union also cited poor staffing, lack of facilities and low motivation among teachers as some of the factors that must be addressed before schools open next year.

“Moving JSS from secondary schools to primary institutions was a cardinal mistake. Despite the best efforts of JSS teachers in primary schools hosting them, it is safe to say that no effective learning is taking place in the institutions,” Kuppet chairman Omboko Milemba said on Wednesday.

And in what seems as an escalation of the fight with rival Kenya National Union of Teachers, Kuppet has written to President William Ruto seeking the relocation of JSS to secondary in January.

The union has also written to the Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu over the same.

Kuppet said they are in talks with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to open deliberations on the possibility of moving JSS to secondary schools.

In December 2022, the President announced that JSS would be domiciled in primary schools.

The decision was informed by the preliminary recommendations by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms led by Prof Geoffrey Munavu.

The team further recommended the hiring of extra teachers and the upgrade of primary schools that would see the construction of laboratories and extra classes.

The team also proposed government intervention that would see secondary schools share their resources with JSS that are in close proximity.

However, one year on, the union warns that the primary schools have been overstretched.

Kuppet warns that come January the institutions will have a hard time supporting an extra class in JSS.

The pioneer CBC class will be heading to Grade 8 in January while those currently in Grade Six will be joining JSS at Grade 7.

But the union questions how the government intends to see through the rollout of a new JSS class with an inadequate number of teachers handling the current cohort and facilities to support practical lessons.

In their estimation, Kuppet indicates there is an immediate need of 84,000 teachers to handle the new JSS class ahead of the January rollout.

“The current staffing in JSS will be too inefficient to offer meaningful education in the institutions, moreover, primary schools where JSS is domiciled lack the critical infrastructure including laboratories, libraries and facilities for extracurricular activities,” Milemba said.

In December 2022, the TSC said it had begun the hiring of 35,550 teachers.

Out of this 10,000 of teachers were employed on permanent pensionable terms while 25,550 are intern teachers.

Some 9,000 of the slots are for permanent secondary school teachers and 1,000 for primary school teachers while 21,550 slots are for intern teachers for JSS.

Although the union lauds the efforts by the government to employ an all-time record number of teachers, they note this only translates to one teacher per school.

This, Milemba said, has forced some JSS teachers to handle more subjects than they have not been trained on.

In other instances, Kuppet noted that teachers assigned to the primary school section are asked to handle some lessons in JSS.

“So far, the government has posted only one JSS teacher per school or stream. This one teacher – who is trained in only two subjects – is forced to teach all the 14 subjects in the JSS curriculum,” Milemba noted.

He argued that migrating JSS to secondary school will not only be the sensible thing to do but will also supplement the struggling resources currently unavailable in primary schools.

This, Milemba said, will include skilled teachers to handle technical subjects in JSS, laboratories and libraries that are available in secondary schools.

“It is not too late for the government to domicile JSS in secondary schools, which are better prepared to handle this cohort of learners… It will also ease the burden of constructing new laboratories, classes and other facilities in primary school,” he said.

However, should JSS remain in primary schools, the union warns of the imminent failure of CBC occasioned by poor service delivery, lack of facilities, disgruntled teachers and a huge cost implication that would come with the upgrade of resources in primary schools.

And to facilitate the movement of JSS to secondary schools, Kuppet suggested the introduction of day wings in boarding secondary schools.

"Given this evolving crisis, we call upon the government to urgently convene a meeting involving all key stakeholders in education to resolve the fundamental crisis in JSS within the month of December," Milemba said.