Learners, tutors brace for tight programme as schools reopen

Monday, July 26th, 2021 00:00 |
A parent buys second-hand textbooks in the streets of Mombasa. Parents had a busy weekend preparing for the new academic year. Photo/PD/Ndegwa Gathungu

Irene Githinji @gitshee

Primary and secondary schools reopen today for the first term of the 2021 academic year to a heavily compressed programme.

It is a year with a difference, where learners and teachers will not only need to adjust to the new academic timelines that start in the middle of the year but also the rush to cover the syllabus in a shorter time.

It is also the first time that all learners will be at school at the same time since Covid-19 struck in March last year.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has said that all was set for the new term, the government having disbursed Sh76 billion to learning institutions.

He said the money will cater for tuition and food, noting that no child should be left behind as learning resumes.

“The government has now given all the money required for schools. Some Sh17 billion was set aside for the public primary schools and Sh59 billion for public secondary schools.

Each secondary school student has been allocated Sh23,000,” the CS said.

The first cohort of Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), who have been at home since March, will be joining Grade Five.

Last week, Magoha ordered strict adherence to guidelines that reduced secondary school fees, saying the terms are shorter and will run for 30 weeks instead of 39.

Calendar review

Since the term will be nine weeks shorter, he said, it had been resolved that school fees be reviewed downwards, with learners in national schools expected to pay Sh8,500 less and those in other secondary schools Sh5,500 less.

“We have agreed, having consulted President Uhuru Kenyatta, that we should prorate downwards because the term will be nine weeks less for boarding. The government pays for everything except for the food,” Magoha said.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw closure of learning institutions for nine months last year, a situation that necessitated a review of the school calendar.

Learners will take a three-day half term break from August 26–29 while the holiday will run for a week  from October 2 to 10.

Second term will start on October 11 and end on December 23 while third term will run from January 3 to March 4 next year.

Pupils who join Class Eight tomorrow will sit their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) from March 7-10 while those who join Form Four will sit  the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam from March 11 to April 1.

Two national exams will be written next year because the 2022 candidates will sit their exams in November.

Normal school calendar is expected to resume in 2023.

From August 2, the 2020 KCPE class will join secondary school.

The government has issued scholarships to 9,000 needy  children joining Form One next week under the Elimu Scholarship Programme (ESP), as it seeks to implement the 100 per cent transition policy.

He said ESP targets 110 sub-counties and 15 urban centres with informal settlements.

“This year we increased the allocation of learners from urban centres with informal settlements from 25 per cent to 33.3 per cent of the 9,000 slots to cushion the very vulnerable households and give hope to the less fortunate,” he said.

Magoha warned schools against sending children home over school fees.

“You might be shocked to find that some of those being sent home have nowhere to go,” said Magoha.

The CS said his ministry had prioritised quality based educational reforms, which include implementation of CBC, with a focus on nurturing learners’ potential.

“More focus is going towards rationalisation of existing and new infrastructure to ensure seamless implementation of the CBC with maximum benefits to all learners,” said the CS.

Fewer transfers

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has said it is  in the process of recruiting more teachers.

Secretary Nancy Macharia said teachers will be recruited and posted to schools in the course of the term.

The commission seeks to recruit 8,914 secondary school teachers to enable schools cope with the 100 per cent transition from primary school.

Some 6,000 interns will also be recruited to address the teacher shortage.

“The teacher is at the centre of effective curriculum delivery and we will do all we can to ensure the staff are well motivated to dispense their duties,” said Macharia.

She said TSC was cognisant of the hard times teachers  were going through during Covid-19 pandemic.

For that reason, she said, the commission had limited the number of teacher transfers to ensure stability in schools.

“The recently signed Collective Bargaining Agreement with teacher unions resolved to avoid transfers that can destabilise families,” said Macharia.

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