The government introduced the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) in 2017. CBC emphasises nurturing of learners’ potential, national values, and integration of science, technology and innovation and seeks to ensure that the skills taught in educational institutions match the requirements of the industry.
This will facilitate the acquisition of 21st Century knowledge, skills and competencies, values and character development, patriotism and global citizenship, with positive implications for the quality of human capital.
These educational reforms are inextricably linked to the attainment of the Kenya Vision 2030.
They also align with global commitments on education such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 4) on the provision of quality, accessible and affordable education to all citizens of the world by 2030 and the African Union’s Continental Education Strategy for Africa.
Accordingly, the first cohort of CBC will transition to Junior Secondary School (JSS) on January 30, 2023. This calls for a structured mechanism of ensuring a seamless transition.
We appreciate the Ministry of Education's provisional guidelines on the management of JSS so as to have the transition midwifed accordingly. Guidelines published and circulated to all schools through established structures within the sector are expected to boost the take-off in the implementation of Junior Secondary Education (JSE) recommended by the Presidential Working Party for Education Reforms in Kenya (2022).
Heads of primary schools are squarely in charge of JSS with full administrative powers of allocating subjects, monitoring curriculum delivery, addressing quality assurance in the schools, addressing disciplinary matters, resources management, infrastructural development and performing any other duties that may be assigned to them by the employer (TSC).
Although some stakeholders are unhappy with these guidelines, they have given clarity on management aspects at this level.
After the JSS management guidelines have been rolled out by the Ministry of Education, TSC should have a clear procedure of how JSS teachers will be sourced.
Through its Twitter handle, TSC said on January 28, 2023, that teachers could apply to be deployed to JSS. Teachers have until February 6, 2023 to do so.
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Through communication, TSC described the requisite qualifications and subjects. It, however, did not indicate the number of teachers required and the criteria that would be used to filter the many teachers expected to apply.
It seems someone slept on the job. There is a need for TSC and the Education Ministry to develop guidelines in collaboration.
This will no doubt demonstrate synergy among critical education actors involved in the implementation of the CBC. The collaboration will ensure complementarity across the formal, non-formal and informal dimensions of the JSE curriculum.
Emphasis must be placed on ensuring consistency in the application of prescribed standards and JSE quality, leadership and management, management of resources, among other key considerations.
It is envisaged that through these guidelines, institutions offering JSE will be enabled to evolve in tandem with the expectations of the reformed curricula and to enhance their quality of education delivery in the long run.
Ultimately, this should raise the standards of education nationally and eliminate existing disparities in education provision, consistent with the global education agenda.
While appreciating that a good number of measures have been taken to implement JSS, we need to ask the following questions:
First, how many teachers are required for JSS to take off given the 35,550 teachers employed in January 2023 following the presidential directive on the same and in response to the Presidential Working Party on Education Reform preliminary report of December 2022?
Second, what qualification is required for this level of education in light of the over 90,000 teachers in primary schools who have diplomas, degrees and post graduate qualifications who had already submitted their applications to TSC by February 2014 and have not been deployed to date?
Third, what recruitment criteria will be used to get these teachers to teach at this level of learning in light of the communication on TSC's Twitter handle of January 28, 2023?
Fourth, is the remaining time sufficient to make necessary arrangements to settle these learners as they get to the next level of education? Our opinion is that TSC ought to be pro-active and to consult with other players in the sector in working out her programmes.