Nearly 10 million learners out of school due to restrictions meant to curb spread of coronavirus have been advised to resume radio, television and online lessons run by the government ahead of reopening of schools in January.
This came even as Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha assured learners will not lose their academic year.
Magoha said the timetable for the rest of learners – Grade 1-3, Standard Five to Seven and Form One to Three – who are not presently in school, will be reviewed to ensure that no child loses a full academic year that would delay transition.
Magoha made the announcement at Maragua Ridge Secondary School during an inspection of delivery of desks and chairs to learning institutions in Murang’a and Kirinyaga counties.
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Ministry sources told The Standard that a rigorous academic plan will be rolled out in January that may see the two school terms covered by end of May. This means that by June, all learners will have started a new academic year that would run to end of December.
The effect of this is that all the candidates will have covered all the lost schoolwork for this year and also completed the 2021 work, hence salvaging the imminent loss of an academic year.
This means the present Standard Seven and Form Three learners, who were expected to sit national examinations next year, will still sit the tests hence guarantee transition. “We shall re-arrange the timetable in a way that will ensure learners don’t lose a full academic year after a long break due to outbreak of Covid-19,” Magoha said.
He said the examination timetable for the candidates – Standard Eight and Form Four – will remain intact, with only slight changes.
“The examination timetable will be re-looked and made public though not likely to be much different from one that was issued before,” said Magoha.
According to the old school schedule, candidates are expected to sit national examinations next year. Candidates are expected to sit KCPE exams starting March 22, 2021 with KCSE starting on March 25. Marking of the exams had been spread between April 19 and May 7.
Yesterday, Magoha asked Grade 1-3, Standard Five to Seven and Form One to Three learners to get ready to resume learning on January 3. On the radio, TV and online lessons, Magoha said the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development will make available content for all the classes in the electronic and online platforms.
“KICD will continue to mount the lessons on all the other media so that children not in school are not left idle,” said Magoha.
Under the home learning plan, children access lessons through the KBC radio channel, Edu-channel TV, Edu TV on YouTube, and the Kenya Education Cloud.
The system, which has been criticised for not carrying all learners along, is now the government plan to keep children busy after community based learning failed to kick off. This means parents will once again contend with the challenges of keeping their children at home for two more months.
This came as the debate raged on the negative effects of prolonged school closure on children, which have included pregnancies, drugs abuse, early marriage and child labour.
The World Health Organisation, the World Bank, Unicef and lately Amref have been pushing for safe reopening of schools, saying risks of keeping children at home are dire.
Parents expressed fears of memory loss, low concentration span and other effects of delayed reopening of schools on children.
“We know the long closure will have a bad effect on children but as long as they are safe, we shall wait for January opening,” said Nicholas Maiyo, the parents association national chairman.
The new reopening dates, however, came with a new round of anxiety for private schools, which yesterday said they are facing another round of job cuts as teachers not on duty will be asked to go home.
“We had recalled all the teachers – from primary to secondary – in readiness for opening. These teachers had been participating in putting in place the necessary measures ahead of reopening of schools. We shall have to send them home,” said Mutheu Kasanga, Kenya Private Schools Association chairperson.
Kasanga said President Uhuru Kenyatta’s announcement was a major setback for the institutions that had invested heavily towards reopening of schools.
There are 10,400 private primary schools, 1,530 secondary and 23,000 nursery institutions.
“We are still taking stock and it is sad that opening has been pushed to next year. We are not sure what to do with the more the 155,000 teachers hired by these schools,” said Kasanga.
This came as it emerged the Sh7 billion loans extended to the private schools is yet to be accessed by the institutions. “We are hopeful that no school will be shut again because the running costs are so high,” he said.