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Why it was wrong to domicile junior secondary in primary schools

Opinion
 Education CS Ezekiel Machogu at Mtihani House during the release of the 2022 KCSE examination results on January 20, 2023. [Samson Wire, Standard]

On December 1, 2022, the Presidential Working Party on Education Reform (PWPER) came up with an interim report. That report has since impacted our education in Grade 7.

Key among the recommendations by PWPER was that the Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA) should not be used for placement of students in Junior Secondary Schools (JSS).

Instead, KPSEA was, and has since then been used to monitor learning progress and offer feedback to education sector players on areas that require intervention. The report further recommended that JSS be domiciled in primary schools. These two recommendations have negatively affected the implementation of CBC, and with the pioneer group being badly hit.

Having the KPSEA exams serve the purpose of guiding stakeholders in education is probably not a bad idea. However, the major challenge comes when the same students remain in the same school and are taught by the same teachers who taught them at the primary level.

The best way of defining such is simply an extension of primary schools from Grade 6 to Grade 9. It even gets worse when, in some schools, the junior secondary students share the same uniform as the primary school students; there is zero feeling of transitioning to the next level of education.

Domiciling junior secondary in primary schools was one of the worst moves we embraced as a nation. It may have saved the infrastructure aspect as students can now share the same facilities like fields, toilets, et cetera, but having a secondary section in a primary school is not okay.

Having junior secondary and senior secondary school in the same compound is, however, in order.

In many instances, where a secondary school and primary school share the same compound, there are a number of things they cannot share. The teachers are different, preparation rooms are different and learning timetables are different.

Today, in many schools, if not all, these two levels of learning share the same teachers, the same preparation rooms and teaching-learning timetables.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua agrees that the country was not yet ready for the implementation of the CBC. He reminded us that former CS Education, Amina Mohammed warned the nation over its unpreparedness to implement the CBC. We probably should go back to the drawing board and address the shortcomings of CBC.

It is evident that the junior secondary is starved of teachers. Some schools have no qualified teachers to handle junior secondary while only have only one teacher. That automatically indicates that students in Grade 7 are missing out on some subjects. If teachers are not enough, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to having equipped laboratories.

As some students are struggling with facilities and lack of teachers, some schools have well-equipped laboratories with enough teachers to handle all subjects. Some private schools and established public secondary schools were prepared for the pioneer class of CBC.

Due to failure to ensure equality in the implementation of the CBC, we are most likely going to experience a scenario where some students are poorly taught while others possess the right knowledge.

I hope education stakeholders will take note of these challenges in the implementation of CBC and correct them before it is too late. It is crucial to note that CBC is a good system of education, and hence it is important to ensure its properly implemented.

The government and other stakeholders should come together and ensure the success of the new system of education.

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