Double intake crisis looms in wake of January schools date

Monday, November 9th, 2020 00:00 |
Education CS George Magoha. Photo/PD/File

Headteachers are staring at serious infrastructural challenges as schools prepare for double intakes once they re-open on January 3, next year. 

The dilemma follows the government’s decision to postpone the re-opening of secondary and primary schools for learners in non-examination classes in order to contain the rising Covid-19 infections that have hit learning institutions since the examination classes reopened early last month.   

Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association (Kepsha) Chairman, Nicholas Gathemia warned that the postponement meant schools will have to make double intakes especially for Grade 5 and Form One.

He however said they were awaiting directions from the Ministry of Education on how to handle the situation once it arises, most likely in May 2021.

Then, pupils who are currently in grade four will be graduating to grade five and joining the continuing learners while those in Standard Eight will be joining form one alongside this year’s class.

Gathemia said the government will have to increase the number of teachers to adequately deal with the situation.

“The biggest challenge that will arise with double streams is inadequate infrastructure in most of the schools and human resource capacity. We hope that when that time comes, more teachers will have been recruited,” said Gathemia.

He urged the MPs to heed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive and support schools in putting up extra classes to ease the infrastructure challenges.

Yesterday, Education CS George Magoha said a new timetable for next year will be worked out following the decision to reopen schools next year.

“Now that the Government has pronounced itself on reopening the rest of the schools, I want to urge teachers, stakeholders and Boards of Management to continue to prepare schools to reopen around January 3, a new timetable will be worked on and we will overcome this,” the CS, who spoke after inspecting desk project in Murang’a said.

The CS said the school calendar will also have to be reworked to ensure learners do not lose another academic year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the government will work round the clock to ensure the lost academic year is recovered next year.

“We still hope that even as we open in January, we will be able to rearrange the timetable in such a way that children will not lose a whole academic year.

The Government plans to meet education stakeholders soon to map out how best to plan for the children that are still out of school,” the CS explained.

Prepare students

As far as examination classes are concerned, the CS said teachers will continue to prepare the students for their exams, which is still unchanged.

The Ministry of Education last month announced the standard eight and form four examinations will be taken in March next year.

Class 8 students are expected to sit their exams from March 22 to 24 while KCPE will be taken on March 25- April 16.

KCSE will be marked for three weeks, from April 19 to May 5.

“We will prepare a timetable, which we will make public soon but will not be materially different from the one we had given before,” the CS said yesterday.

 Magoha made the remarks a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that all learners will resume in January.

The President, however, said examination classes comprising Class 8 and Form 4 that have already resumed learning for almost a month now, are to continue with sessions but with enhanced Covid-19 measures.

“With respect to examination classes that have already resumed learning, I hereby order that they continue with their learning and examination preparations under heightened health safety measures; with all other basic learning classes resuming in-person learning in January 2021,” the President directed in his 13th address to the nation on the Covid-19 pandemic yesterday.

When they resume in January, learners are expected to commence from where they left, which means they will continue with second term in classes they were in before learning was suspended in March this year.

Uhuru also urged MPs to engage their respective National Government- Constituency Development Fund (CDF) boards with a view to finding ways to augment the existing interventions that are geared towards reopening.

This, he said, is to foster the Government’s preparedness towards the reopening of all other classes in all learning institutions in January.

“I urge MPs to make investments that focus on additional hand washing points, face masks, general sanitation and physical distancing of students and teachers,” the President said.

Reports indicate that Form 4 candidates have two more weeks of learning after which they are to sit for their mock examinations up to mid December.

The decision not to close schools for those already in session is premised on what the Ministry of Health said that learners in Grade 4, Class 8 and Form 4 age brackets have only had mild infections and are not as dangerous.

It was also agreed that at least two teachers from schools would be trained as a community surveillance team.

Grade 4, Class 8 and Form 4 resumed learning on October 12, with several schools reporting Covid 19 outbreaks.

 Magoha also lauded the progress of the desk project so far, with expectation being that all Government procured desks will have been delivered to schools by Friday next week.

“I’m delighted to report that in most of the schools and institutions I have visited, the management have done their best to ensure Covid-19 protocols are followed.

By next week Friday, all the desks and chairs will be delivered to schools.   Report by Mathew Ndung’u, Wangari Njuguna and Irene Githinji 

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