Stakeholders hail exam delays but urge caution
Noven Owiti and Enock Amukhale
Education stakeholders have lauded the move by the government to postpone this year’s national examinations to 2021.
Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association (Kepsha) Nyanza region chairman Caleb Oduyu says candidates will get time to prepare for the tests.
“In the adjusted exam period, the learners will have covered at least three quarters of the syllabus as required of them to sit the national exams,” he said.
This is after the Ministry of Education last week hinted that Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates could sit the tests next year subject to schools reopening in September, but with guidelines from Covid-19 national response team.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said should the Class Eight and Form Four candidates not sit the exams in April, the government will be forced to push the tests further to November 2021. The ministry is considering the latest time schools can open and exams administered.
Speaking in Nakuru, Magoha said safety of learners was paramount in whatever decision will be arrived at.
“For the exam timetable, we are hoping the latest we can still do the exam is April. Beyond that we must be prepared for what I do not want to say at the moment,” the CS said.
“Re-opening of schools will depend on whether or not we get stakeholder agreements on when it is less risky to take children to school and that is dependent on the Ministry of Health.
“At this stage, the numbers (of Covid-19 infections) are going up and most likely the peak will be between September and October and if so, we cannot re-open schools,” the CS said.
According to Oduyu, materials developed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) for use during online lessons be supplied to schools for continuity purposes.
“The association has no problem with candidates sitting national exams next year as planned. We believe they will be adequately prepared when that time comes,” said Oduyu.
Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Kisumu branch executive secretary Zablon Awange said adequate measures must be put in place ahead of reopening of schools in September to ensure the national tests are successfully administered by April.
He also called for early release of Free Primary Education and subsidiary secondary school funds for the institutions’ operations upon resumption of learning. “Faster release of the funds will ensure schools adequately prepare to admit learners in September,” said Awange.
Further, he said, the Teachers Service Commission should consider absorbing all teachers working under school Board of Managements (BoMs) to assist in syllabus coverage and social distancing of students.
Schools will also require increased manpower to implement curriculum in the post Covid-19 pandemic. “We want TSC to engage BoM teachers on permanent basis to increase the personnel as reopening of schools will demand extra teachers to recover lost time,” Awange said.
He also wants the government to release additional fund to assist schools meet expenses of paying suppliers and workers including BoM teachers. “It is imperative that government urgently releases funds due this financial year to help schools clear debts and pay staff,” he said.
Meanwhile, political leaders in Western region say they will only support re-opening of schools after the Ministry of Health announces the end of coronavirus. The leaders warned Magoha not to experiment on the students by opening schools before the coronavirus pandemic is contained.
The leaders were led by Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi, Vihiga women representative Beatrice Adagala and her Kakamega county women representative counterpart Else Muhanda. They spoke in various functions when they distributed relief food to vulnerable families in the region.
The politicians said the State should work on long-term measures that can restore smooth learning of student post-Covid-19.
Agoi cautioned parents against taking their children to school, saying it is better to stay with an illiterate child than a sick or dead one.
“School children come from various parts of the country and some come from Covid-19 hot points such as Nairobi and Mombasa that are badly affected by the pandemic,” added Adagala.
Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kesha) led by Vihiga county chapter chairman Albert Amasiolo also opposed reopening of schools without health preparations, asking the ministry to ensure schools open in a healthy, conducive environment.
Amasiolo spoke while leading a teacher’s delegation to donate relief food to the county government of Vihiga county to help the vulnerable families.
The tutors handed over food packages, sanitisers and facemasks to governor Wilbur Ottichilo worth Sh900,000.