There is a group of people, some who are respected members of the teaching fraternity, elected leaders in teacher trade unions and elected members of the National Assembly, trying to force a debate over the placement of JSS which was canvassed well by all other education stakeholders throughout the country through the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER).
To capture power, the Kenya Kwanza regime designed an education charter which was their master plan in ensuring the education sector is streamlined to be responsive to the needs and aspirations of Kenyans and the labour market.
True to it, after ascending to power, the President constituted a team of eminent personalities in the education sector with the vast of knowledge and experience.
Very distinguished personalities led by Prof Munavu who has had an illustrious career in academia and public service for the last 35 years. He served as Chairman of the Kenya National Academy of Sciences (KNAS) for 19 years (2002- 2021), Chancellor of Laikipia University for five years (February 2013 – February 2018), and Commissioner at the Constitutional Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) for six years (December 2010 – December 2016). Other re-known scholars in the team included Prof Udoto, Prof Bii and Prof Fatuma Chege.
This team went round the country meeting and sharing/ discussing with both major and minor stakeholders in the education sector. Every member of the communities, societies and the entire Kenya participated. All stakeholders had their day in the collection of views and data. Unions had their day with KNUT-KE hosting the team at KNUT House and presenting a research document dubbed domiciling grades 7, 8 and 9. This was a well-researched scientific document with facts.
One key aspect that came out in the reforms deliberations was the physical infrastructure for teaching and learning. There are 23,286 primary and. 8,933 public secondary schools in Kenya (Ministry of Education, 2013-2021).
This means therefore that to sustain and uphold the 100 per cent transition policy which advocates for all learners to transit to the next level of education and a critical pillar in implementation of Free Primary Education and Free Day Secondary Education provisions, it was imperative that the grades 7, 8 and 9 be domiciled in primary schools where there existed enough space, classrooms and other facilities to enable teaching and learning. Another aspect that came out was teacher establishment deficiency. Government needed to employ more teachers to handle the transition. An additional class in the learning structure and the change of curriculum which had among other things the change of teacher learners’ ratio needed more teachers to be put on board even though teacher shortage has been and continues to be a predominant debate in curriculum implementation. And finally, the need to develop teaching and learning materials.
On teacher capacity, there are over 68,000 teachers who have upgraded with diplomas, degrees and post graduate degrees. These teachers were last regularly promoted in 2014. This is after the employer announced that they were not able to promote all these teachers at once due to a strained budget.
Those teachers, and others who get employed from time to time have the capacity to teach learners in the JSS section. The notion therefore that they have no capacity to teach JSS is absurd, disrespectful, dishonest and an abuse to them.
In the CBC dispensation, subject areas are not aligned to teaching subjects currently being trained at universities. Junior Secondary comprises of Grade 7, 8, 9. Where English, Kiswahili or Kenyan Sign Language, Mathematics, Integrated Science, Health Education, Pre-Technical and Pre-Career Education, Social Studies, Religious Education, Business Studies, Agriculture, Life Skills and Sports and Physical Education as mandatory subjects and Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Home Science, Computer Science, Foreign Languages (German, French, Mandarin, or Arabic), Kenyan Sign Language and Indigenous Languages as optional subjects.
This is different from what is being offered from our universities. The teachers currently teaching in primary schools who have been handling these subject areas and have undergone tooling and re-tooling on the same are highly recommended to disseminate the right knowledge and skills to these learners. It is not just about the where these classes should be placed, it is about where there is value for the learners in terms of teaching and learning.
Kenya National Union of Teachers therefore states that whereas there could be that clamor and affinity by other unions to have these three grades domiciled in the secondary school’s section basically for union dues, the move is selfish, unfounded and political. It is myopic and only focuses on gains that will benefit a specific union and not learners and the general improvement of the education sector.
KNUT supports the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms specifically on domiciling the three classes for posterity. We believe the president’s team means well for the sector and must be supported.
We wish to advise our brothers and sisters in sister unions in the sector to depoliticise their approach in the matter and allow teaching and learning to continue for the good of our country.
KNUT’s 63rd Annual Delegates Conference which is starting off 4th to 6th December 2023 at Moi International Sports Complex Kasarani, Nairobi has the matter of Domiciling grades 7, 8 and 9 as a key discussion area.