Learning is yet to start in several schools for junior secondary school (JSS) pupils due to issues ranging from teacher shortage to lack of facilities to management concerns.
The situation has now left most head teachers scratching their heads how to implement the system without overstepping their mandate.
Most institutions are operating as per their understanding of the programme.
Interviews with some head teachers and education officials showed they were in a dilemma what to do over the many teething problems in JSS.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Collins Oyuu said the government should fast-track employment of more teachers to address some of the issues.
"There are some that do not have a single JSS teacher, and in some cases, the ministry has only posted one," said Mr Oyuu.
Migori Primary School head teacher Moses Maranda noted that as the secretary of the Junior Secondary School committee they recently formed, he is still the head of the Junior Secondary learners.
He noted that the school has over 200 learners in JSS whose classes are separate from the primary school section.
The school is expecting over 100 more admissions but still shares the same facilities with the primary section.
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According to Maranda, they are using primary school teachers to teach JSS learners who have occupied five streams at the school.
"They posted five junior secondary teachers to handle 12 subjects and only four have reported," he added.
Maranda said the school is using trained primary teachers to supplement those deployed to JSS by the government. The school has also employed two extra cooks.
In some schools, only a single teacher has been posted despite the schools having more than three streams of JSS learners.
In Kisumu, two primary schools are hoping to be allowed by Kisumu Girls and Kisumu Boys to use their labs and libraries.
“There is confusion. We have many unanswered questions, and we will lose a lot of learning hours if the issues are not resolved. We have already received the syllabus but only two teachers understand it,” said a head teacher in Kisumu Central.
Migori County Education Director Jacob Onyiego said they had instructed school heads to use the other teachers besides provided by the government for JSS.
"Teachers have been advised to reorganize their timetables so that they can take care of JSS," Mr Onyiego said.
He said head teachers are heading the Junior Secondary Schools on a transitional basis.
Currently, JSS reporting in the county is at 90 per cent.
"There is capitation to be disbursed according to learners who are already in school," he said.
Out of the Sh15,000 that will be provided by the government per child in Junior Secondary, Sh4,000 will be directed to infrastructure development.
Another teething problem is how to manage JSS; whether they should be under the Board of Management (BOM) of primary schools.
Some schools have formed special committees to lead the schools.
Some head teachers claimed there are no guidelines on finances meant for JSS since the Ministry of Education has not indicated the signatories to the bank account.
A head teacher who sought anonymity told The Standard that they are planning to engage parents to help fill the gaps that they are experiencing that have blocked them from starting lessons.
In Homa Bay, JSS learners have been reporting to school daily but returning home without learning.
At Sing’enge Primary School in Ndhiwa Sub-county, only one teacher has been posted for JSS.
Head teacher John Omollo said they are waiting for more teachers to be posted, adding that the deficit has made it difficult for learning to start.
“I have only one teacher who has been posted but the subjects taught are 12,” Omollo said.
He said they had received only four textbooks.
The school's BOM has now stepped in to help plan how to handle the JSS learners.
At Shauri Yako Primary, the school has received four teachers.
Head teacher John Ogutu said they are facing challenges but they have to proceed.
“Challenges are many but we are going on,” Ogutu said.
But as the teachers continue to struggle with the challenges, education officials are urging them to think outside the box, and insist there should be no confusion.
Kisii County Education Board Chairman Henry Onderi said there should be no confusion in handling JSS.
"School heads must be on top of the game. Teachers and parents ought to be ready to support the new system. The public gave its opinion, and it is time to reflect on the future for JSS to succeed."
At St Joseph's Nyasore Academy in Nyamira, school proprietor Elijah Makori said the programme was riddled with confusion.
"We are to employ graduate and diploma teachers; it is not easy to split the two learning centres. The announcement to have JSS domiciled in primary came as a surprise, we now need to raise funds to cater for human resources and put up other extra structures."
Makori said the government should support the private school financially and in terms of textbooks. "We are playing a critical role in ensuring that we absorb more than half of our learners.
We are supplementing government programmes in offering quality education.
According to Makori, it will take some time before school administrators understand how to manage the programme.
Reporting by Harold Odhiambo, Anne Atieno, James Omoro and Eric Abuga