Experts want CBC changed to ease congestion

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022 00:18 | By
KNUT Secretary General Collins Oyuu. PHOTO/Courtesy
KNUT Secretary General Collins Oyuu. PHOTO/Courtesy

With the Ministry of Education appearing to fumble on how to successfully implement the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), some education experts now propose that Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) be domiciled in primary schools, which have more classrooms compared to high schools.

They also want JSS to be re-named Senior Primary School so that learners can move into classrooms meant for the current Standard Seven and Eight pupils. This will ease pressure on secondary schools to build new classrooms.

This, they said, will address the infrastructural challenges likely to be brought about by the double intake expected in secondary schools next year.

Kenya Secondary School Headteachers Association chairman Kahi Indimuli and Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary-General, Collins Oyuu, the government should think of twinning primary and secondary schools that can jointly host and manage Junior Secondary Schools.

Under the proposed arrangement, primary schools would be used as host institutions while secondary schools would be charged with the responsibility of deploying and managing JSS teachers.

“Bearing in mind the fact that primary schools are double the number of secondary schools, the government should adopt a multi-pronged approach with both primary and secondary schools being fully utilised,” Indimuli told People Daily.  “This will effectively address the headache of building more infrastructure in the schools where JSS will be hosted,” he added.

On his part, Oyuu said existing infrastructure in primary schools can comfortably host the junior secondary without putting pressure on parents and taxpayers to finance building of new classrooms.

Oyuu predicted a major crisis if the government goes ahead with plans to squeeze more than 2.5 million pupils from 30,000 primary schools into 10,000 secondary schools.

“Hosting JSS in primary schools would not cause us sleepless nights,” he said.

According to him, there are many graduate teachers in primary schools who can handle JSS classes, meaning that they only require to be redeployed.

Both Indimuli and Oyuu also suggested to the government to consider renaming the two-year junior secondary classes as Senior Primary and have the learners occupy the existing Class Seven and Eight buildings.

Private sector

Their view was shared by former Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Secretary Benjamin Sogomo, who also proposed that the government could change the CBC structure and rename JSS as Senior Primary School.

Sogomo said the Ministry of Education should move fast to change the structure while retaining the curriculum design because time is running out before next year’s double intake.

Earlier this month, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha asked private schools to bail out the government over junior school, urging them to accommodate those set to join JSS. He also asked parents with children in private primary schools that have Junior Secondary School sections to keep them there to reduce competition for public secondary schools in January.

Experts believe the government is turning to the private sector to avert an imminent crisis in the already over-enrolled public secondary schools when there will be a double intake next year.

“It is good idea for the CS to invite participation of the private sector, though that is not the solution,” Sogomo said. “We must look at long-term solutions.”

Questions are now emerging on whether the government has made enough investments to accommodate all 2.5 million learners expected to transit next year to Form One under the first ever double intake.

About a million learners currently in Standard Eight are expected to transit to Form One next year, in addition to the 1.5 million expected to join Junior Secondary School.

Experts warn that the January double intake of 8-4-4 Form One and CBC Grade Seven learners is likely to create a shortfall of 1,489,144 places in secondary schools.

Jonathan Wesaya, an education expert, estimated that with the recommended class size of between 45 and 50 students, at least 29,783 more classrooms will be needed to accommodate all the learners.

The Ministry of Education had, however, targeted to build 10,000 new classrooms in two phases by March this year, with phase one comprising 6,497 classes. However, the plan was opposed by some headteachers, who either cited lack of space on which to build the new classrooms, or lack of consultation before building materials were delivered to their schools.

On the other hand, private schools had targeted to build at least 5,000 classrooms, but only 1,290 classes have been put up so far. The government identified 1,500 primary schools to host JSS students, though it has not stated the criteria that will be used to select students to join them.

 This is likely to cause anxiety among learners and their parents, as there is no clarity on whether the learners will remain in primary or will join secondary schools.

“The government needs to come out clear on the criterion that will be used to admit students in national and extra-county schools,” Sogomo said.

First cohort

Another education expert, Dr Everlyne Jepkemei, proposed that the transition of the first cohort of Grade Six learners to Grade Seven be put on hold to give the government time to make adequate preparations. “Unlike 8-4-4, CBC is a technical system that requires well established laboratories and workshops in place. When would this be established and by who?” she asked.

She challenged the Education Ministry to clear the air on who will shoulder the responsibility of financing the infrastructure.

Already, some public secondary schools have started charging parents fees under the guise of infrastructural development.

“This is obviously going to work to the advantage of schools with existing facilities such as the original national schools and to the disadvantage of institutions that the government is rushing to upgrade,” she said.

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