Which way Kenyan education?

A CBC junior classroom at Star of the Sea Girls Secondary School in Mombasa County that was commissioned by Education CS Prof. George Magoha on March 3, 2022. PHOTO/MoE.

Even as Kenya takes pride in taming widespread Covid-19 infections, the impact of the disease in the education sector cannot be gainsaid.

The disease caused a scare in the country and forced the government through the Ministry of Health to put in place stringent containment measures including the closure of all schools, universities and colleges for nearly a year.

This paralyzed the academic calendar in a manner never experienced before and the Ministry of Education is struggling to recover the lost time.

Before the pandemic, the academic year of basic education institutions to accommodate the lost time and it is until 2023 that normalcy will resume.

The Prof George Magoha ministry is at the core of the country for it is in charge of the provision of education and training to millions of students at various levels.

Medical experts have already indicated that the country has transited from the pandemic to the endemic state of the disease that shook nations across the world.

By press time in the first week of March, the Ministry of Health reported that 323000 Kenyans got the virus since the first case was recorded in the country in 2019.

Over the same period, 5,640 Kenyans lost the battle with the virus while thousands of others fully recovered.

With enhanced vaccination of her citizenry, Kenya has relaxed a number of the Covid-19 containment measures even as Health CS Mutahi Kagwe warns Kenyans should not drop the guard yet.

This March, 1,225,507 candidates are doing their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams.

Hundreds of thousands of their counterparts in secondary schools are also sitting for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).

This means, the primary school leavers will transit to the next level of education in May this year, while those who are finishing their secondary school education will join colleges and universities thereafter.

The scenario is coming against a backdrop of an increased number of learners in Kenyan schools as a result of interventions like the push for a 100% transition rate from primary to secondary schools.

The country also rolled out the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) to phase out the 8-4-4 system of education that has been in existence since 1985.

The government is racing against time to ensure there are more classrooms to accommodate students who will join junior secondary schools.

According to CS George Magoha, some contractors have handed over the classrooms while others are working on them.

However, the ministry warned that principals should be on the lookout to ensure that contractors do not do a shoddy job.

In Migori for example, Kenya News Agency (KNA) reported Deputy County Commissioner, Benson Karani as saying: “Contractors will take advantage of your lack of concern and dubious work to save on the materials necessary for the construction.”

“You should therefore be concerned about what is being done during the construction to provide checks and supervision.”

For nearly two months the children will be at home in wait for the start of the new academic New Year.

Of greater worry is the fact that term three of 2022 will start in September and the school will close nine weeks later.

This means pupils joining Standard Eight and students transiting to Form Four in May will do their final exams at those levels in November and be ready.

The country is therefore staring at a huge population of learners in both primary and secondary schools like never before.

It also means that learners and teachers alike will have to work extra hard to cover the syllabus within the reduced term dates.

For parents, there is more strain on their budgets as they have to pay fees and other school charges and also meet other domestic financial obligations.

Education CS Prof. George Magoha poses for a group photo with the staff after commissioning CBC junior classroom at Karibaribi secondary school in Thika Kiambu County on March 1, 2022. CS assures of security and administration of KCPE & KCSE exams to every candidate across the country. PHOTO/MoE.

Meanwhile, CBC has faced challenges since its inception, with a section of Kenyans arguing that the country is not ripe for a new curriculum.

Recently, the matter took a political twist with Amani National Coalition (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula hinting that should Deputy President William Ruto ascend the presidency, the curriculum will be suspended.

Mudavadi argued that the program was implemented in a rush and without consultation with stakeholders.

“The controversial Competence-Based Curriculum of education will be scarped once the Ruto/Mudavadi government takes power in August,” Mudavadi said in a tweet on February 6th.

The duo encountered a backlash with a section of Kenyans arguing that the curriculum has already taken off at the cost of the taxpayer and scrubbing it will not make any economic sense.

CBC has faced resistance since its rollout with a section of parents saying it is expensive and mind-boggling to them as they have to assist their children do assignments, sometimes using technological devices like mobile phones.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) appeared to falter on its initial stand that it was against having the pioneer class of junior secondary school hosted in the existing secondary schools.

KNUT said in January that the current teacher shortage in public schools is 84,000 and urged the treasury to allocate more resources to fill the gap.

“We urge treasury to release sufficient funds to employ at least 20,000 teachers annually for the next five years so that this matter can be addressed appropriately,” KNUT Secretary-General, Collins Oyuu was quoted by Switch TV as saying on January 19th.

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Mr. Araka is the pioneer reporter and editor at The Scholar. His satirical segment, The Idler's Corner is very popular with our readers. He is also a published novelist and biographer.


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