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Junior secondary classes dominate talks on CBC

 Kakamega KNUT Chairman Patrick Chungani gives his views at Bishop Sulumeti Girls High School on November 7, 2022. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Education stakeholders from different counties disagreed on whether the government should keep junior secondary classes in primary schools.

The task force appointed by President William Ruto to evaluate the country's education system heard various perspectives from stakeholders during public participation forums in Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Kakamega, Bomet, Kisii, and Kilifi.

Concerns were raised about the high cost of the competency-based curriculum, lack of proper teacher training, inadequate classrooms, and lack of engagement by parents.

The Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) and the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Nyeri branches supported the CBC system and its structure for integrating junior high schools into secondary schools.

The CBC model was the best curriculum, according to Kessha chairman Cyrus Wachira and Francis Wanjohi (Kuppet), but it needed some reforms.

During their submissions to the working party on education reforms at Nyeri High School, the two leaders said the junior school should be reverted back to primary school because the schools do not have the capacity to accommodate the students, such as dormitories.

Ndiritu Gichuki, on behalf of the Nyeri County Board, proposed relocating junior students to primary school, saying secondary schools were unprepared to accommodate the students and that the students would be bullied.

"To avoid wasting classrooms whose occupants will be referred to as students in secondary schools," Gichuki advised, "students should continue with their studies at the primary school as they come of age".

However, Wachira said primary schools lacked some facilities that students require in secondary school.

"What is needed in the current CBC is a clarification of parents' roles to avoid a situation where a parent is left to take on the roles of teachers," Wachira said.

According to Kuppet's Wanjohi, the government should reintroduce the school equipment production unit to bridge the gap that has seen parents spend more money on homework materials.

A debate on junior secondary also took centre stage at Tenwek High School grounds in Bomet county.

Requests to relocate junior secondary in primary schools dominated discussions, with Kessha officials saying given the age of the students, the team needed to make changes to ensure they remained in primary schools.

Beatrice Koech, Secretary of the Association, told the committee led by task force chairperson Prof Raphael Munavu that primary schools have a better capacity to handle young learners than secondary schools.

Koech said secondary school facilities would not be adequate to accommodate students in grade seven for junior secondary. "As secondary schools, we have limited facilities and teachers to handle junior learners, and it is our desire that the junior secondary is housed in primary school."

Knut executive Malel Langat said despite the government's decision to build classrooms in secondary schools, the proposal to keep junior secondary should be expedited before the January transition.

Langat warned that ignoring calls could lead to chaos and confusion during the transition in January. He said the country risks producing half-baked learners. He also poked holes in the brief induction of teachers on CBC. "It is our hope that the government will empower teachers through training," Langat said.

Bomet Governor Hilary Barchok advocated for the abolition of CBC, saying the country is not ready for a curriculum change.

[Report by Benard Lusigi, Eric Abuga, Mary Imenza, Ndugu Gachane, Jane Mugambi, Gilbert Kimutai, Osinde Obare]

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