The government has an uphill task of providing 1.5 million places in secondary schools in the next 21 months to cater for anticipated double intake of learners that will be transitioning to secondary schools in January 2023.
This means that a minimum 37,000 classrooms will have to be constructed, although the numbers could soar if the Covid-19 pandemic persists and social distance will have to observed in schools.
In 2023, pioneer learners under the new 2-6-3-3-3 Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) system will transition to junior secondary school after sitting the Grade Six national examinations.
It is also the year that present Class Six learners under the 8-4-4 education system will join Form One after sitting KCPE examinations, thereby presenting a huge infrastructure challenge of hosting 2.6 million children.
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“Approximately 1,250,649 learners enrolled at Grade 4 in 2020 will transit to Junior secondary school (Grade 7) as the first cohort of the 2-6-3-3-3 while the 1,320,395 Standard Six cohort of 2020 will transition to Form One under 8-4-4 system in 2023,” reads the CBC task force report.
It is also evident that the counties will shoulder the huge infrastructure burden during the transition.
The report says the total number of Grade Six and Standard Eight learners expected to join secondary school in 2023 will be 2,571,044.
Yet, the report says that available secondary school spaces for those joining the new level of education is only 1,081,900.
“This indicates a significant shortfall of 1,489,144 places in secondary schools in 2023,” reads the findings of the CBC task force report presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
An analysis of counties capacities for the projected enrollments against available spaces reveals the weight of the preparations that must be undertaken in the devolved units ahead of the transitioning year.
Kakamega County has the highest projected enrollment of secondary school children of 146,403 but has 1,054 classrooms that can only accommodate 52,700 children.
This means that additional classrooms must be constructed or created to accommodate the shortfall of 93,703 children. Going by the pre-Covid ratio per class, this translates to about 2,350 classrooms.
Bungoma is the second county with the highest expected enrollment of 127,743 secondary school learners in 2023. But the county only has 890 classes that can only absorb 44,500 new secondary school students, leaving a deficit of 83,243 spaces.
Nairobi is third with expected enrollment of 116,962 secondary school children. The county has some 678 classrooms that can presently only hold 33,900 new secondary school learners, leaving a deficit of 83,063.
Nakuru County is also expected to receive a high enrollment of 114,964 new secondary school children. It presently has 1,095 classrooms that can accommodate 54,750 new secondary learners, leaving a deficit of 60,214 spaces.
Homa Bay completes the top five counties that will admit the highest number of secondary students with some 88,827 children expected to join schools. With only 677 classrooms that can hold 33,850, the county will have deficit of 54,977 spaces.
The report identifies 2023 and 2024 as critical years that will require proper planning as the number of students joining secondary schools will overstretch the existing infrastructure.
In addition to classrooms, the report says the anticipated enrollment increase will also require expansion of laboratories, libraries, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and other educational related resources.
Last September, President Kenyatta pleaded with governors to use their education budgets to support government efforts to expand spaces in schools.
The president also appealed to MPs to use their Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocations to support government plans of expanding schools’ infrastructure towards achievement of quality education.
As part of the immediate plans to prepare for the double intake headache, the report has proposed mapping of primary schools against secondary schools with an aim of encouraging day schooling to address the transition challenge.
The report also proposes making provision for primary schools that have adequate infrastructure to establish a junior secondary school.
Broadly, the report recommends that the government undertakes progressive expansion of capacities of existing secondary schools that have adequate land to accommodate more learners in 2023.