The government is staring at huge infrastructure and staffing challenges ahead of the much-anticipated transition from 8-4-4 system to the new Competency-Based Education (CBC).
Details reveal in the next two years, the government will be required to expand classrooms to accommodate a scheduled double intake.
The pioneer Grade 6 learners, who will sit national examinations under the 2-6-3-3-3 system next year, are expected to transition to Junior Secondary School in 2023, at the same time with next year’s Class Eight candidates.
It is also the year that the present Class Six learners under the 8-4-4 system will join Form One, after sitting KCPE exams presenting a huge infrastructure challenge of hosting 2.6 million children in 2023.
“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 transit to Form One under 8-4-4 system in 2023,” reads the CBC task force report.
The CBC task force report projects that the double transition will result in increased enrolment, which will require huge financial resources to make ready classrooms and boost teacher needs.
“There will be a 27 per cent increase in the Secondary School learner population in 2023 from 4,381,701 to 6,029,168,” reads the report.
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.
“The pressure will only ease off in 2025 when there will not be any 8-4-4 cohort transitioning from primary to secondary schools.
Speaking in Kisumu this week, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said some Sh1.9 billion has been set aside towards classrooms improvement.
Of these, Sh1 billion would be used to construct two classes in some select secondary schools.
The other Sh900 million will be used to build extra classes in select primary schools.
The report, however, proposes that the government undertakes progressive expansion of capacities of existing secondary schools that have adequate land to accommodate more learners in 2023.
In addition to this, the government will be required to make provision for primary schools that have adequate infrastructure to establish a Junior Secondary School.
According to the report, schools in close proximity would be merged and the infrastructure improved to create a Junior Secondary School.
“Develop a framework to facilitate sharing and management of infrastructure among primary and secondary schools that will be established in the same compound,” reads report.
The government has an uphill task of providing 1.5 million places in secondary schools in the next one and a half years to cater for the double intake. This means that a minimum 37,000 classrooms will have to be constructed although the numbers could soar if the Covid19 pandemic persists and social distance will have to observed in schools.
The report says that the total number of Grade Six and Standard Eight learners expected to join secondary school in 2023 will be 2, 571, 044 against available spaces for only 1, 081, 900 new students.
“This indicates a significant shortfall of 1, 489, 144 places in secondary schools in 2023,” reads the report presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
An analysis of counties’ capacities against available spaces reveals the weight of the preparations that must be undertaken in the devolved units ahead of the transition.
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 has the second-highest expected enrolment of 127, 743 secondary school learners but only has 890 classes that can only absorb 44, 500, leaving a deficit of 83, 243.
Nairobi is third with an expected enrolment of 116, 962 secondary school children against some 678 classrooms that can presently only hold 33, 900 learners, leaving a deficit of 83, 063.
Nakuru county is also expected to receive a high enrolment of 114, 964 but 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 with some 88, 827 children expected to join secondary schools. With only 677 classrooms that can hold 33, 850, the county will have a deficit of 54, 977 spaces to create.
On staffing, Teachers Service Commission (TSC) will also be required to retool teachers to align with the CBC, specifically on guidelines and quality controls to ensure the credibility of formative assessments.
And teachers still in colleges will be inducted on effective interpretation and implementation of the teacher education curriculum framework and designs.
On its part, the Commission for University Education (CUE) will be required to enforce rationalisation of lecturer recruitment to meet the changing educational needs in a cost-effective way and oversee the integration of Community Service Learning policy as a critical aspect of university programmes.
In addition to classrooms, there will be need for expansion of laboratories, libraries, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and other educational related resources.
“Effective transition, therefore, calls for nationwide and local-context specific planning to ensure that all learners are equitably placed. Of note, the infrastructure investments to address the 2023 and2024 double intake challenge will help build capacities for accommodating learners in senior secondary schools,” reads the report.
The Standard has established that top government officials are worried that the double switch of learners in the two classes from two different education systems poses serious infrastructural and logistical challenges that may cripple the education sector.
This is due to the massive resources required for the expansion of infrastructure and the recruitment and training of staff.
President Uhuru last year pleaded with governors and MPs to use their budgets to support efforts of expanding spaces in schools.
The task force recommends rationalisation of the existing infrastructure and resources that can be converted or absorbed to be optimally used in meeting demands by merging under-enrolled primary schools, in close proximity, and improve the infrastructure in one to create a Junior Secondary School.
It also proposes developing a framework to facilitate sharing and management of infrastructure among primary and secondary schools that will be established in the same compound.
The report also proposes making provision for primary schools that have adequate infrastructure to establish a Junior Secondary School.