Parents rush against time to prepare for schools opening
It is a rush against time as parents and guardians, gearing up for back to school next week, purchase required items, the tough economic times notwithstanding.
Preparation for back-to-school has not been without its fair share of challenges with parents having to not only contend with long queues and high prices of items including uniforms, books and stationery, but also the high demand which has seen some shops run out of stock.
And as learners brace to get back to school, the government will also be implementing key of its planned activities this calendar year as part of its effort to reform the education sector.
Key among programmes lined up is nationwide rollout of Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) in Grade Four, having implemented Pre-Primary One and Two as well as Grades One-Three last year amid high opposition from some quarters.
Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha has assured that his ministry is prepared to roll out Grade 4 this month, as schools resume next week.
“The Ministry has supplied Grade 4 textbooks in 97 per cent of the counties. The remaining counties will be reached before schools open for First Term in January… these are regions where the ministry encountered difficulties to deliver books due to the rains,” said the CS two weeks ago.
In addition to preparing for Grade 4 rollout, the CS said the last batch of teachers would be trained during the December holiday. And for sustainable capacity development of teachers under CBC and to improve quality of education, Magoha said the government has revised the lowest pre-service teacher training qualification from Certificate (P1) to Diploma level.
“A curriculum for this new level of training has been completed and the new cohort of learners will be admitted to various colleges in 2020. I expect relevant departments to release details of the application and training process in due course,” he said. Similarly, it is expected that the task force on curriculum reform will in due course hand over to the CS the final report on regulations and guidelines on establishment of institutions under the basic education framework.
The taskforce will also provide directions on transition of the first CBC cohort from primary to junior secondary school in 2023, since there will be no national examinations in Grade Six.
Yet another key activity the ministry is keen to follow through is the 100 per cent transition policy, from primary to secondary schools. “The Ministry will from the first day of reporting on January 13, work with all relevant government agencies to ensure that no candidate fails to join Form One,” said the CS.
He urged all primary school head teachers, through Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha,) to develop an inventory of the schools to which their 2019 candidates were placed and liaise with all relevant agencies and institutions to ensure they are enrolled in Form One.
The government will also be seeking to issue 9,000 scholarships for learners who sat their KCPE last year, through the support of the World Bank-funded Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project (SEQIP). The scholarship programme is expected to cover needy candidates from 110 sub-counties and 15 urban areas with informal settlements to enable them to join Form One.
“The government will construct classrooms, laboratories and other infrastructure in the SEQIP target areas at a cost of Sh8 billion. While I commend the government, I wish to urge other agencies and Government initiatives such as Constituency Development Fund to step in and help us expand necessary infrastructure in our schools,” the CS urged.
Despite key programmes the government intends to implement, there are fears that learners could be caught in the middle of the back and forth between Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and TSC.
Before the Christmas break, Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion lamented over the manner in which TSC has been handling the union’s grievances. He said there was nothing to celebrate for Knut, given that TSC failed to deduct the former’s dues this month, amounting to over Sh100 million. “It is a sad time because there are no December salaries for our union workers hence no Christmas for us. TSC has done it again, they completely removed all dues for the union...we are shocked!” Sossion said yesterday.
Already, Sossion has urged Office of the President to step in and assist in restoring order and sanity in remuneration of teachers in the public service.