State's fumbling to blame for JSS parent's panic

Grade seven learners at The Orchards Junior secondary on Kangundo Road peruse through a newspaper on February 7, 2023. [David Gichuru , Standard]

A Ministry of Education circular to Regional Directors of Education and County Directors of Education last week has lifted the lid on a conspiracy. Some teachers and parents in public primary schools have conspired to take Grade 7 pupils to different schools where they are admitted to Standard 8 and registered for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations. 

This practice involves falsification of birth certificates and the generation of Unique Personal Identifier numbers to meet set requirements. This is a serious breach of ethics and integrity that must be nipped in the bud.

Yet, even as we condemn the deceit, it is important to address factors that have given rise to it. The government bears blame for the haphazard manner of the introduction, and shepherding of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) that has left both learners and parents in a state of confusion and anxiety. 

This year, the first cohort of CBC transitioned to Junior Secondary School (JSS) in the midst of confusion that is yet to be addressed by the government. JSS was domiciled in primary schools contrary to earlier expectations and with that, came a lot of confusion. Most of the primary schools hosting JSS not only lack infrastructure in the form of classrooms, desks and laboratories, many do not have teachers. 

Confusion still lingers on the textbooks to be used, who is to buy them and the matter of capitation since the government insists parents should not pay anything. No loving parent would to take their children through such a gloomy labyrinth.

It is the government’s obvious fumbling and failure to do things right that has also eroded public faith in CBC and JSS, notwithstanding their touted benefits. 

Therefore, even as it talks tough and prepares to take action, the government should carefully look itself in the mirror. If does, it will realise it is indeed to blame for what is happening. We have never seen parents scurrying to fast-track the education of their children at this scale before. The government deserves more condemnation than the parents for it is its inaction that has caused this mess. It must stop seeing the specks in parents' eyes and ignoring the log in its own.