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Junior secondary: A case of two different schools in one compound

 Grade six pupils follow through rice cooking practicals and process at Mully Children's primary school in Matuu, Machakos County on October 05,2022 in preparation of their final exams to Junior secondary education. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Parents will have to buy new sets of uniforms for their children joining junior secondary, according to new draft guidelines by the Government as schools reopen in two weeks.

At least 1.2 million learners are expected to transition into junior secondary school. Junior secondary schools will also have separate Boards of Management that will oversee the running of the institutions and also supervise the financial management of the establishments. Primary school heads will, however, act as Junior Secondary school principals during the transition period.

The details are contained in the draft Junior Secondary transition guidelines. The Sunday Standard has established that the Government is keen to ensure that even though Junior Secondary will be domiciled in primary institutions, the two levels of learning will remain distinct.

President William Ruto had previously said Grade 7, Grade 8 and Grade 9, which fall under Junior Secondary, would be domiciled in the existing primary schools. Ruto, however, directed the Ministry of Education to provide the necessary guidelines on how the transition will be done.

It is now emerging that all the children who will move to Junior Secondary will have distinct uniforms to distinguish them from their primary school counterparts.

"It is a delicate balance because parents will buy uniforms. But at the same time no child miss admission to Junior secondary school because of uniform due to the 100 per cent transition policy," a senior government official said.

The Sunday Standard has however established that primary school head teachers will act as the principals of the junior secondary schools until the end of this year. The head teachers will also be the secretaries of junior secondary boards of management and will oversee the financial management of the high school wing.

Students in Junior Secondary school will also get government capitation per child as is presently done for other high school learners. The board of Junior Secondary will be distinct from that of the primary school. These details emerged as anxiety is building among parents and teachers over the progression of Grade Six learners to Junior Secondary school barely two weeks before schools reopen on January 23.

The transition is expected to pose some challenges in terms of infrastructure and teacher utilization while some parents may also wish to transfer their children to other schools. Questions have emerged over the guidelines, infrastructure and teachers' utilization among other details as time ticks towards the reopening.

The question of the readiness of laboratories to be used by Junior Secondary learners has been prominent. President Ruto, last week, said some of these facilities may be shared with neighbouring schools in the interim as construction plans are rolled out.

The finer details of draft guidelines, however, emerged during a stakeholders meeting chaired by Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu on January 4 at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD). The guidelines are the findings of a multi-agency committee set up by Mr Machogu.

In his address during the release of KCPE examination results last month, Machogu told Kenyans that he had set up the team to draft guidelines on the transition. Machogu said the team was to ensure a seamless transition from primary school Grade Six to Junior Secondary School, facilitate effective leadership and management of Junior Secondary School and also promote consistency in the implementation of the Junior Secondary School curriculum including teaching and learning, and assessment.

Machogu also said the findings of the team were expected to ensure the provision of adequate, appropriate and safe physical infrastructure and a learner-friendly environment for all learners including those with Special Needs and Disabilities.

The team was also to make proposals to ensure the provision of adequate and well prepared human resources to facilitate curriculum delivery for Junior Secondary School and also outline the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders in the implementation of the various components of Junior Secondary School.

Last month, Machogu said that a stakeholders meeting would be held on January 4 to consider and release the guidelines that would provide a roadmap to all players ahead of transition to Junior Secondary School.

The meeting that took place at KICD brought together teachers unions and associations and was attended by Teachers Service Commission (TSC) County Directors and Ministry of Education County Education Directors. Also present were regional directors for both TSC and Ministry of Education.

During the meeting, the tentative guidelines were tabled and discussed with a resolution adopted that sector players may recommend new proposals for consideration and adoption. It was floated that with primary teachers acting as principals of the secondary wing, another senior teacher would be entrusted with curriculum implementation. The senior teacher will report to the acting principal.

Presently, deputy head teachers/principals are tasked with the overview of curriculum implementation in schools. These senior teachers will assume this role in junior secondary schools. It was also floated that some of the teachers in present high schools and who had been trained on Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), would be asked to teach some subjects in Junior Secondary.

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