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Why the government closed all public and private schools in Kenya

By Education Ministry | Sep 24th 2015 | 4 min read

The media have carried concerns following government decision to revised term dates for the Third Term following the protracted strike by teachers over pay dispute.

The argument the closure does not solve the industrial dispute between the government and teachers and that there was no justification to extent the revision of the term dates to private schools.

The fact of the matter is that teachers were on strike and children would not be in school unattended. Teachers in a significant number of schools had boycotted teaching. After monitoring the impact of the dispute for over the previous three weeks from the start of this school term on 31st August, 2015, it is evident that a large number of public school going children and other learners in our institutions staffed with TSC teachers had gone largely untaught.

The revision of the term dates for Primary and Secondary Schools were necessitated by the fact that very little or no teaching and learning had been going on in most of the public education institutions.

The ensuing failure to teach resulted in restlessness of students; in some cases tension had built up among learners, who had been left idle under the care of very few teachers. Some incidences of insecurity in schools had been reported by Heads of Institutions and Field Officers during the said period. Some students drowned in a dam while on a swimming expedition. This would not have happened had there been teaching and the concomitant supervision and control of students that happens when normal schools programmes are taking place.

The Ministry accordingly revised the term dates to safeguard the security of the learners, staff and school property, and thus address the concerns of parents and other key stakeholders in education.

The students were better off in the care and security of their parents and guardians pending resolution of the staff off. When two elephants are quarrelling, a Vietnamese Proverb goes, ants should step aside.

The State vicariously entrusts the guardianship and care of children to teachers on the assumption that they will teach and facilitate learning of the prescribed curriculum according to plan. The striking teachers not only stopped teaching, but also withdrew the care and safety parents, through the auspices of the government, confer on teachers.

The Ministry of Education provides that a school calendar operates for pre-determined days or structured instructional hours determined by the Quality Assurance and standards system it has established with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) and other key stakeholders. It has accordingly developed minimum structured learning time which all students are individually exposed to guarantee the Desired Outcomes of Education (DOE) at every level of education tier.

For laypeople in matters education, DOE are attributes that educators aspire for every learner to have by the completion of his formal education. These outcomes establish a common purpose for educators, drive education policies and programmes, and allow policy makers to determine how well an education system is doing.

The structured learning time that the Ministry of Education has established provides a common and effective strategy for the monitoring of curriculum delivery across all schools, including private schools, running on the 8.4.4 curriculum. There is allocated time which is the total time available for teaching and learning. This time must have been planned for and used effectively to accomplish the teaching and learning tasks. Allocated time at school is mainly for teaching, learning and assessment.

The protracted strike had disrupted/distorted all the harmony and uniformity that must exist in the management and delivery strategy of the 8.4.4 curriculum across the board.

The Ministry extended the directive to cover students in private primary and secondary schools because they run on the same curriculum as public primary and secondary schools. There was, therefore, need to secure uniformity in the curriculum experience of all learners across the 8.4.4 school system. It was this thinking that informed the extension of the revised term dates to private schools running the 8.4.4 curriculum. There was nothing sinister in this action.

It is precisely for this reason that the directive did not affect schools running international curriculum, notwithstanding the fact my Ministry approves the curriculum the schools offer. The Ministry does not manage or control curriculum implementation of the curriculum in these institutions. In addition, it does not control its school calendar.

The Ministry acknowledges that the pay dispute concerns teachers under the employment of the Teachers Service Commission and government/employer. It is also aware that teaching and learning went on smoothly in private primary and secondary schools.

The Government recognises the role owners of Private Schools play in complementing government in providing education services to Kenyans. It is deeply indebted to this partnership in addressing the problems of access, equity, quality in the provisions of education services.

The extension of the revision of the Term Dates to private schools was, therefore, not in any way aimed at undermining the institution of the private schools system.

Nor was it conceived as a solution to the current impasse. It was to place the safety learners in the hands of their parents and guardians as a solution to the pay dispute is explored.

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