JSS students and teachers brace for Term 2 after a difficult start

On average, each junior secondary school currently has between three to four teachers, with those in populated areas being forced to take extra workload.

"At the moment, we have received textbooks for four learning areas. This is despite having 12 learning areas and two other optional ones. We hope to receive more books when we reopen," said a head teacher at a school hosting a junior secondary in Molo.

School heads revealed that they lacked finances to expand facilities and currently depend on nearby secondary schools.

Although the government announced the release of capitation for JSS at the end of March this year, most school heads confirmed receipt of the funds in the school accounts only last week.

According to a circular from the Ministry of Education, the schools received variable cost components based on the number of students enrolled, with each student allocated Sh7,268. Out of this, the ministry has retained Sh3,200 for textbooks and supplementary readers and capacity building.

Although most of the schools lack structures for laboratories, the institutions have received Sh1,643 per student as allocation of laboratory materials and materials for practicals under the curriculum.

Private schools, however, appear to be making progress, with most of them already having fully equipped laboratories and classes with the right student-teacher ratio.

Kagaki School, a private facility in Nakuru County, partnered with donors to establish one of its laboratories.

"We are in the process of completing the construction of a second laboratory. We had extra classrooms that we converted into labs. We are now improving them to the right standards," said the school's director James Kinyua.

At Roots Academy Junior Secondary, the proprietor only needed to make slight improvements on the structures previously used by Laikipia University, Nakuru campus.

"We are not yet where we want to be but we have everything needed for Grade Seven learners. We are in the process of stocking the labs with what is needed for the other grades," said the school's head teacher Collins Odhiambo.

At Excel Elementary in Kisii, the school manager Duke Abuga said they have put up classrooms and are finalising a laboratory.

Tracer Preparatory School in Kisii Central has 48 students in one stream. The school has a well equipped laboratory.

Mahiakalo Junior Secondary School geography teacher Irene Odebero assists pupils during a lesson. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

At Assar Johansson Primary and Junior Secondary in Migori town, the government deployed six JSS teachers. However, the school's deputy head teacher Josphat Adamba said the teachers are not enough. The school has 167 learners.

Adamba noted that apart from the shortage of teachers, they still did not have a functional laboratory and equipment and, as result, students visit a nearby secondary school at least twice a week for the laboratory classes.

According to Adamba, teachers in the school have been forced to download learning materials as they wait for the government to provide textbooks for the remaining eight learning areas.

Gladys Odongo, the deputy head teacher for Migori Primary and Junior Secondary School, said learners have been responding positively to the CBC curriculum. She said the government managed to add another teacher on top of the six deployed at the school.

At Nyeri's Nyamachaki Primary, parents have been buying notebooks for the learners. Deputy head teacher in charge of academics, Ms Grace Murithi, said the school had received textbooks for three subjects out of the 14 subjects.

In Murang'a, most JSS learners are yet to get laboratories. The schools also lack enough textbooks and teachers. There has been confusion in the county after some schools that had not been listed to host JSS received textbooks, thus creating a shortage. The schools were ordered to take the books to the ones hosting the learners.

At Technology Primary School, the stakeholders said they were happy after receiving textbooks for 11 subjects. The head mistress, Ms Beatrice Wachira, said they have 176 students in four classes, with more teachers expected.

At Mariira Day and Boarding Primary School, the TSC has posted four teachers to handle the 154 students. The head teacher John Chege said the learners only received four textbooks.

At Kiria ini Primary School in Mathioya, the head teacher Kinyua Mathenge said they had received three textbooks per student and two teachers. Murang'a County Kuppet Executive Secretary Mburu Mwangi described the JSS as a flop due to several shortcomings.

Bungoma DEB Primary School, which has 521 Junior Secondary students, has only eight teachers. "My school has a deficit of 15 teachers," said the school Principal Tobias Khisa.

Mahiakalo Primary School in Kakamega County has four streams, with 226 students taught by five TSC teachers. This is according to Julia Mulamula, the deputy head teacher.

Knut has called on the government to address the shortage of teachers in JSS. Trans Nzoia Chapter Knut Executive Secretary George Wanjala said the acute shortage of teachers in JSS was threatening the future of current Grade Seven learners.

"In Trans Nzoia, we have an average of two to three JSS teachers, yet we need about eight as they have to teach in 14 subject areas," said Mr Wanjala.

In Taita Taveta, Education CEC Gloria Monikombo said lack of enough teachers and infrastructure and lack of goodwill from some stakeholders were major challenges.

[Reporting by Kennedy Gachuhi, Anne Atieno and Eric Abuga, Purity Mwangi, Boniface Gikandi, Nathan Ochunge, Benard Lusigi, Martin Ndiema and Renson Mnyamwezi]v