Why September schools opening plans flopp*d

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020 00:00 | By
Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion speaking during the Shedule for Reopening of Learning Institutions at the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development in Nairobi yesterday. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

The initial proposal to reopen basic education learning institutions in September for Standard Eight and Form Four candidate classes has now been shelved, Education CS Prof George Magoha announced yesterday.

Magoha explained that the decision has been arrived at owing to the steady rise of coronavirus cases in the country, which have already surpassed the 8,000-mark.

“Based on this disturbing trend, stakeholders have shelved an initial proposal to reopen basic education learning institutions in September for Standard Eight and Form Four candidate classes,” said the CS who spoke at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

The postponement of opening for the examination classes was attributed to the fact that it would mean there will be Two Form One class cohorts in the 2021 academic calendar yet there is no capacity for that.

This, the CS explained, would pose a major infrastructural challenge, given the fact that the number of students in schools is already high and it would overwhelm the system even further.

Magoha also said the decision was informed by the fact that the country will experience equity challenges when only two basic education classes reopen and transit to the next grades while all other learners lose one year.

“Although the 2020 Form Four cohort will have left, the total candidature is 752,836 against a candidature of 1,191,326 in Standard Eight.

In view of the 100 per cent transition policy, this means that there will be no classrooms for 438,490 learners in Form One.

It will be therefore difficult to achieve the social/physical distancing measure,” explained the CS.

Infrastructure challenges

Magoha said the postponement has been informed by the fact that all learners in Grades 1 to 4, Standard 5 to 7, and Form 1 to 3 in 2020, will remain in their current classes in 2021.

He also said there will be no KCPE and KCSE examinations in 2021 because the current Standard 7 and Form 3 students will, practically, not be able to cover the curriculum load for five terms in one year and sit for the examinations.

The CS explained that a double intake would mean the number of teachers required will increase because secondary schools will have a challenge of having enough tutors, especially for optional subjects, to meet the demand of split classes.

Already, there is an inadequate number of teachers to comprehensively cover the high enrollment of students, especially with the 100 per cent policy.

“In Form One, the compulsory subjects are 11, which will necessitate employment of more teachers to handle the Form One double intake cohorts,” said the CS.

Also in the wake of a surge of the disease and with health experts predicting that the peak would run beyond September, Magoha said inter-county movement of students in boarding schools will pose a challenge, especially for those travelling from Nairobi, Mombasa and other counties with high incidences of infection.

“This will contribute to a spike in the spread of infections,” stated the CS.

Strong reservations 

Since the infection curve is rising as September approaches, Magoha said many parents have expressed strong reservations to sending their children to school.

He said the Government is working in close collaboration with the National Parents association, which has also insisted that they cannot release their children until the coronavirus curve flattens.

The National Parents Association Chairman, Nicholas Maiyo said they want all children to be safe and they can only do so if they remain at home as opposed to rushing to resume learning.

“Not much had been done in the 2020 academic calendar and we will resume from where we left.

There is no rush in going back to school, we can wait for the coronavirus curve to flatten,” said Maiyo, who also spoke from KICD.

Magoha has been meeting with various Teacher Training Colleges and Tvet Principals to deliberate on best measures to resume, while observing trends of the coronavirus pandemic.

The CS has been categorical that can only be reopened when the coronavirus curve flattens, coming at a time when the daily case load has been running into hundreds. 

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