Education reforms: Three weeks later, where is final Presidential task force report?

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu speaking when the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms, led by its chairperson Prof Raphael Munavu, met Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua at his Harambee Annex office on November 24 last year. [DPPS]

Some insiders say President Ruto would have unveiled the report, after the validation conference, already if the team did a thorough job.

On May 3, Machogu told Kenyans that "the report is ready for handover in two days' time".

Machogu said the report had captured all the views raised by stakeholders.

"A number of you complained that the curriculum is a bit too heavy. The answer to that is coming on Friday when the head of state will make his pronouncement in conformity to what has been recommended by the task force," said the CS.

According to Machogu's statement, President Ruto was to receive the report on May 5.

Friday, June 30, 2023, marked the ninth Friday since Machogu promised the report would be out.

Granted an extension

Upon the expiry of its six-month term, in April, the committee was granted an extension of two months, through a Gazette Notice dated April 12.

"The Presidential Working Party on education reforms term has been extended until June 9, 2023," the notice read.

This means the term of the task force expired three weeks ago, on June 7.

Prof Munavu, on Friday, declined to speak to The Standard over the report. "Monday would be precise for me to give any comments," he said when asked about why the report had not been unveiled.

However, the good news is that part some of the proposals on the transition of learners from 8-4-4 to 2-6-6-3 are being implemented.

The task force presented its first progress report to President Ruto on December 1, last year, when it mainly addressed issues concerning basic education, specifically the transition of Grade Six to Grade Seven.

The recommendations on the transition to Junior Secondary School (JSS) were made in a rush as time was ticking towards the major shift as confusion threatened to derail the reforms.

Domiciled in primary schools

President Ruto quickly gave direction that JSS be domiciled in primary schools and directed that the Ministry of Education makes necessary plans to settle the learners in the new arrangement.

With JSS out of the way, the focus would shift to Munavu's task force, to deliver on a number of issues concerning basic education all the way to tertiary and university education funding.

Also being implemented are proposals adopted under the new funding plan for tertiary and university education.

In the new plan, universities funding has been increased and a newly graduated formula for funding learners unveiled.

Student funding in universities and colleges will be based on four categories; vulnerable, less vulnerable, needy and less needy. This means the government will cater for all vulnerable learners' tuition fees, through full scholarships, while supporting those in the other categories.

Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary General Collins Oyuu addresses a press conference on November 16 last year at the union's head office along Mfangano Street in Nairobi, after holding a meeting with the Presidential task force on education reforms. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The new plan is already being rolled out as the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) is in the process of allocating courses to students in colleges and universities.

Sources have told The Standard that President Ruto's move to give early direction on JSS transition and funding of students in universities and colleges exposed the task force as its work came into sharp focus. This was evident during the team's presentation, to the president, of its second interim report in February, which Ruto termed average, according to insiders.

Ruto directed the team to review and recommend governance and financing frameworks for TVETs and universities, research and training.

Make recommendations

The team was also to make recommendations on teacher education and training framework for both pre-service and in-service, and how the tutors may be deployed.

It was also required to suggest the technology for curriculum delivery, improved learning outcomes and education management.

Ruto also wanted them to advise on the governance mechanisms of learning institutions and sharing of resources across schools and TVET institutions to ensure maximum utilisation of public resources for improved learning outcomes.

How middle-level education would be streamlined, the rollout of Open University of Kenya and how to merge major higher education funds as was captured in Kenya Kwanza manifesto was also part of their mandate.