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Critical events that will define education sector devastated by Covid-19

By Agustine Oduor | January 2nd 2021 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Ngara Girls' High School students sitting an examination in 2019. [File, Standard]

This year is going to be very critical for education stakeholders. It is packed with major events, most of them carry-overs from the disrupted school calendar of 2020.

The Saturday Standard highlights some of the critical players charged with regaining what was lost in 2020 and ensuring the education sector meets its 2021 obligations as well as some of the critical items in their to-do-list for the New Year.

Ministry of Education

Opening of schools and colleges for all learners and maintenance of the health protocols in relation to Covid-19.

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Funding of basic and higher education institutions in light of Covid-19 pandemic will be a major focus this year.

Expansion of school and colleges infrastructure will be a challenge to decongest classes to meet social distancing protocols.

Mopping up learners, including pregnant girls, those in forced marriages, boys absorbed in menial jobs to stem the rate of schools drop out.

Pushing for curriculum recovery out of the lost time and managing the transition of learners.

The movement of learners across schools caused by the closure of some private schools, re-location by parents who lost or changed jobs.

 Parents and learners

Marathon first term with no break. Examinations in March as opposed to the usual end of the year.

A nightmare for new entrants in primary schools. Delayed admission of form one students.

Parents queue outside School Outfitters for school and staff uniforms shop along Muindi Mbingu street on December 30, 2020. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Condensed extra-curriculum calendar.

Learners to learn some of the normal behaviours like keeping safe distances and wearing masks at all times.

Parents expected to clear fees due at the beginning of the term. Worry about the safety of children.

Teachers

Those aged above 58 to work from home.

Those working in schools expected to be innovative, guide learners counsel those traumatised by the pandemic and also ensure curriculum coverage.

Some teachers will also have to perform additional roles such as manning emergency rooms in schools, taking temperatures of children and monitoring compliance of the Covid-19 guidelines.

 Teachers Service Commission (TSC)

Getting teachers to cover curriculum will be a major challenge. Teachers, on whose shoulders rests successful opening of schools, will bear the weight of Covid-19 and will require full support from the government through the TSC.

Recruitment of more teachers -- interns and those in permanent and pensionable terms – will be inevitable to match the demands

Launching CBA talks with unions and managing promotions.

Steadying the teaching sector by managing the relationship with Knut which has declared war to get back its lost membership and punctured register.

Balancing work for teachers who fall under the risk categories for Covid-19 will be a major concern as it emerged that by November 2020, public schools had 25,000 teachers aged 58 and above.

In line with the government’s Covid-19 management plan, most of these teachers have indicated readiness to work from home from January 2021 and will need to be replaced by those able to deliver in-person instruction to learners.

Some 12,000 teachers are above 59 and therefore due to retire by June 30, 2021.

Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD)

Kenyans expect the release of the much-awaited task force report on Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), which may have critical suggestions on implementation

The report will lay bare the fate of end of primary examinations (KCPE), and suggest solutions to placement criteria of students to Junior Secondary schools, which has been a transition headache.

The implementation of CBC at Grade 4 and progression of the CBC Cohort to Grade 5 in July will also be a major development to watch this year.

Distribution of CBC books that have been lying in various warehouses will also be a major focus as schools open. Plans to roll out textbooks form subsequent classes must also start as government implements the new education system.

 Kenya National Examination Council (Knec)

The big event for Knec will be the administration, marking and release of KCPE and KCSE examinations under special term dates that delayed the exercise.

Whether the examinations will be moderated and made fair to all candidates and whether the tests will factor in the major curriculum disruptions in the academic calendar will be in focus.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said his office is aware of attempts to mess up the examinations by cartels through irregularities.

Managing and coordinating school-based assessments to gauge children’s learning loss will also be a major exercise to watch this year.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

Release of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Blueprint and Workforce Blueprint will be the top priority for the sector.

These will push to match training needs to the job market requirements.

It will also deal with the growth of TVET and projections for the next 10 years.

These developments will give clear absorption of learners in the next five years; define the training relevance, equipment, and projections of trainers and how to plan within a projected budget.

These developments will be part of the major goal of streamlining TVET in readiness for CBC students.

Embedding recognition of prior knowledge within TVET will also be a major focus.

Enhancing of TVET institutions, as production units and expansion of training with the private sector within TVET will also be key.

Primary and secondary schools

Timely disbursement of schools capitation money to help mitigate effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is a major concern for head teachers this year.

Ministry of Education has said Sh19 billion to be released next week as schools open. Heads however say the crush programme and reorganization of term dates calls for well thought out disbursement formula.

Construction of more classrooms to accommodate learners, wearing of quality masks even by young learners, availability of sanitisers and hand washing points is also a major concern for heads this year.

Universities

Review of university fees from Sh16,000 to Sh48,000 will be a major focus this year. The emotive discussion has already prompted protests from students who have vowed to oppose the move.

Funding of universities, most of which are reeling in debts, will also dominate this year. Public universities are sinking in Sh40 billion debts that have hampered their smooth operations and quest to offer quality education.

It has also emerged that the universities need another Sh52.8 billion to complete all ongoing projects, including stalled ones.

Programmes accreditation will also be a major area of concern this year following a court ruling that Commission for University Education (CUE) has the sole right to approve all courses. But some professional regulatory bodies insist programmes not accredited by them will be rejected.

CUE is also expected to streamline courses in universities to avoid duplications, a matter that will likely affect many institutions that mounted courses to make money.

The KUCCPS placement of students to private universities will also be an area of focus as public universities want the billions used to fund students in their institutions.

This as Universities Act is explicit that KUCCPS places learners to both public and private universities.

Unions: KNUT/KUPPET/UASU

National elections for all the unions will draw public interest.

Recruitment and promotions of more teachers will also be a focus this year for unions.

TSC and Knut have plenty of issues amongst them that should be resolved.

Talks for the 2021-24 collective bargaining agreements (CBA) expected to start.

Review of teachers’ medical scheme for enhanced benefits under special circumstances occasioned by Covid-19.

Uasu will push for the release of Sh2 billion CBA money to effect new salaries scales for its teaching staff members. This matter has threatened to paralyse learning with unions threatening to strike this year.

Covid 19 Time Series

 


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