Concerns have been raised over the young age of students who will join junior secondary school in January under the new curriculum.
The Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Associations (KSSHA) said schools might get learners as young as 10.
“If you look at the recent Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) report, it was clear that we are having a lot of underage children in our schools,’’ said the chairman, Kahi Indimuli, during the launch of Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) training for secondary school teachers at the Kenya Institute of Special Education, Nairobi.
The number of registered candidates for KCPE, last year, who were 12 years and below increased from 26,378 (2.21 per cent) in 2020 to 33,627 (2.74 per cent).
“This poses a challenge since the training of secondary and primary teachers is a bit different in terms of how to handle learners, and I want to believe that one of component in this CBD training will include management of younger children,’’ said Mr Indimuli.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia urged teachers to pay special attention and offer psychological support to junior secondary school learners.
Unlike the 8-4-4 system that is being done away with, the new 2-6-3-3 system will have junior and senior secondary schools.
Junior schools will admit children aged 12 years unlike 8-4-4 system, which admits students aged about 14 in Form One.
Dr Macharia said the training, which ends on May 13, targets 60,000 teachers.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education of Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary-General Akello Misori urged TSC to and the Ministry of Education to continue developing the capacity of teachers, and build institutions with friendly facilities to accommodate the students.
‘‘The fears which are being drawn in this regard is how you make a child of 12 years to travel all the way from Mombasa to a junior secondary school in Kisumu, for instance, away from their parents,’’ said Mr Misori.
He said the learners in junior and senior secondary schools should be made to co-exist well despite their age differences.
‘‘So long as we have requisite facilities to accommodate them, including boarding facilities, lockers and teachers, there will be no problem,’’ he said.
His Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) counterpart Collins Oyuu called for better remuneration of teachers due to the increased workload that comes with the new curriculum.
‘‘Teacher are ready to catch up with any change, but is the government ready to reward teachers in terms of remuneration when we signed a non-monetary Collective Bargaining Agreement? The government must sit and think about rewarding these teachers,’’ he said.
Mr Misori stressed the need for more teachers, arguing that the 5,000 to be employed in July were not enough.
“CBC onset will come with immense workload that will stretch current establishment in schools to the limits. We are talking about nearly 10 new subjects to be introduced, in addition to a more practical orientation of curriculum,” he said.
The country needs at least 10,000 new teachers per year for the next six to 10 years to progressively meet the demand, said Kuppet boss, warning that failure to do this will hamper the new curriculum.