'Most local schools are not yet ready to host Grade 7 learners'

Irene Toroitich takes Grade 1 pupils through a lesson under a tree at Emining Special School for the Visually Impaired on February 21, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Some primary schools don't meet the required threshold to host Grade Six learners in Junior Secondary (JSS) come January 30.

This emerged during the ongoing assessment by a multi-agency team composed of officials from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Interior and Teachers Service Commission (TSC) on the suitability of the schools to host JSS.

Speaking during an inspection by the multi-agency team at Kutus Municipality primary school, Mwea West sub-county Director of Education, Paul Kigaya, said 10 schools in the sub-county have been found unsuitable to host junior secondary school.

Kigaya said the team has asked respective parents from 10 primary schools in Mwea West to look for alternative schools for their children to join junior secondary.

The Ministry of Education has set January 30 as the date for the resumption of studies by students transiting from Grade 6 (primary) to Grade Seven (JS) under the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC).

The government released a checklist of guidelines for those primary schools applying to host JS wings.

Amongst them, schools are required to provide proof of enough land with valid ownership documents, and have approvals from relevant authorities including the County Government, National Construction Authority and National Environment Management Authority where applicable with a Certificate of Completion, Certificate of occupancy Approved site plan -NEMA report.

A detailed report on the findings of the task force is expected to be submitted to the Director General Education on January 23, indicating each institution's preparedness and proposed Junior Secondary feeder schools, the distance and capacity of the nearest primary school.

KUPPET Secretary General, Akelo Misori said, as much as the government directed junior secondary to be domiciled in primary schools, it will not be a walk in the park.

''We suggested that secondary schools are better placed to host the JS learners. High schools have the required infrastructures and personnel to handle the classes as compared to the primary schools,'' Misori said.

''If it took the government one full year to construct only 10,000 classrooms across the country, how do you expect to have 48,000 classrooms and laboratories in all our public primary schools for the opening in two weeks.''

But President William Ruto assured parents that all will be well before schools open.

He promised to work closely with the MPs to ensure one classroom and laboratories are constructed in all primary schools.

Lurambi Member of Parliament Titus Khamala observed that it will not be possible for legislators to facilitate the construction of infrastructure in all primary schools.

''In terms of CBC, we are still in the woods because MPs have priorities. I have no plans of starting any new project unless I complete everything that I began,'' Khamala said, adding that starting other projects will lead to many stalling.

Kenya Primary School Head Teachers Association (KEPSHA) chairman Johnson Nzioka during the 18 Annual General Meeting welcomed the domiciling of junior secondary in primary schools, but said this comes with cost implications, for a smooth takeoff.

"It is a fact that public primary schools have been underfunded over the years. Therefore, we expect that by the end of this conference, we will hear an increase in funding through the capitation," Nzioka said.

Meanwhile, the government is set to give the way forward on the Junior Secondary cost implication today, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu has said.

This will end the confusion that has marred parents. Parents want to know the type of school uniform the students in Junior Secondary will wear.

In addition, parents will know whether they will be required to pay school fees for their children or if they will just match classrooms.

Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary General Collins Oyuu said each school will be required to design its own uniform that will distinguish the two sets of learners.

''The type of school uniform will depend on the individual school, what is so definite is that junior secondary will have a different school uniform away from that worn by the lower classes in the school,'' Oyuu said.

Oyuu added that it is a challenge but it is important that the children have different uniforms.

''Parents are required to buy school uniforms and as usual, as you know, there was a proposal that no child should be sent away because they lack school uniform,'' he added.

Oyuu noted that school uniform patterns will not cause confusion in schools.

''I know various boards of schools will address this situation. A learner at a school within Nairobi cannot walk into a school in Western,'' he said.

''What we want is fairness in choosing the material of the uniform because ultimately, we must make education affordable for poor parents.''