Prepare learners for this year's packed calendar

Agnes Mueni Nzivu of St Francis Misyani Girls School in Machakos County who scored an A Plain of 81 points is carried shoulder high by parents and teachers at the school. [Erastus Mulwa, Standard]

A packed timetable awaits this year’s school managers, leaders, parents and learners. There will be no time to take your eye of the target or take a breather. Several factors including wide-ranging reforms, a new system, Covid-19 disruption, modern trends and a new government in place, have brought change to the education sector.

While releasing last year’s KCSE results yesterday, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu announced that primary schools that will host junior secondary schools, will have new boards of management. This is after President William Ruto accepted the Ministry of Education’s interim guidelines.

The new boards of management will act as a watchdog and guide the administration of the new junior secondary schools, occasioned by the implementation of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) system of education. The learners proceeding to junior secondary are the pioneer class of the CBC system.

Indeed, results of their assessment were released to respective schools quietly last week, and Kenyans expect a smooth transition to junior secondary. When it was introduced, CBC was lauded and criticized in equal measure. Some praised the new system for doing away with the highly competitive nature of examination based transition from one class to another. CBC also introduced practical lessons involving a learner’s environment, the community and the parents. However, some parents loathed the fact that they were required to participate in studies and practical activities. Others complained of the many items they were asked to buy, saying it had a huge dent on their finances. Well, eventually the jury will be out in a few years.

It is also laudable that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has pledged to retrain the extra 30,000 teachers being hired to support the transition to join secondary school. This is because a new system is bound to confront a few challenges on the way as learners and parents navigate the curriculum. We urged the government to ensure a smooth transition and particularly build enough classrooms and other facilities for junior secondary schools.

There will be new books for each student and government capitation to be sent to the junior secondary schools. This calls for diligence and prudent use of public resources to ensure all learners, including those from the poorest and remote regions, are not locked out of the system. School heads, teachers and provincial administrators must ensure all pupils transit to the next class.

That said, schools reopen on Monday after the December holidays. There are regions still battling insecurity and drought. The government must secure all schools and assure parents and learners of their safety this new term. Still there should be no learner unable to go to school because of hunger. The ministry and other stakeholders should initiate school feeding programmes in areas hit by drought.  

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