Ensure order on school timelines is enforced
On Tuesday, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu pronounced himself on the stipulated class time for primary and secondary schools.
He reminded education stakeholders that according to established guidelines, learners are supposed to attend class between 8am and 4.30pm and directed school heads to ensure the regulation is strictly adhered to.
He said: “It is clearly stipulated in the curriculum that learning begins at 8am and ends at 3.45pm. We are subjecting our leaners to unnecessary struggles by waking them up at 4am to attend lessons in schools at 6am.”
The statement by the minister is a most welcome development. So because whereas what he is reminding the stakeholders about class time has always been there in the curriculum, it has not been endorsed.
The guideline has been flouted with impunity and all of Machogu’s predecessors since the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution have failed to implement it.
Time and again, media practitioners and civil society groups have revisited this matter but the Ministry has unbendingly looked the other side. It is against this background that Machogu should be applauded for picking out a salient component of the school curriculum which those he succeeded had failed to implement.
The order is most welcome and Machogu should be encouraged to pursue the directive to its practical implementation. As he noted, learners are subjected to very agonising experiences in the pursuit of preparing them to pass national exams.
The young minds and bodies are woken up as early as 3am to start preparing to go to school where, in some stances, learning starts at 5am, remain in school until after 7pm and it will be after 9pm when majority of them air in their homes.
The situation is worse during rainy seasons when some of them have to stay in school until the rains are over or have to walk home in rain and darkness. At home, they shall be going to bed at 11pm or later, depending on the homework they have to accomplish before sleeping. It means the youngsters will have an estimated three hours of sleep before they start yet another tiring day of schooling.
This is not acceptable. Thankfully. Machogu knows so. Hopefully, he will follow it up. We should not allow a situation where systems are created to make learners dislike education. Education should not be made to look as if it is a punishment to the youngsters. It should be simply what it is supposed to be: To equip them with adequate skills and experiences that will prepare them to be responsible and useful citizens to the society.
Machogu took over the reins at Jogoo House from a committed stalwart — the late Prof. George Magoha who passed away last week. Whereas, Magoha did not implement the schooling time lines, the fallen scholar practically devoted his soul and mind to the plight of young learners. He traversed the length and breadth of this country looking for or providing answers to the myriad challenges in the education sector, especially to the disadvantaged lot in the society.
I ask Machogu to emulate the departed don—he should not sit pretty at Jogoo House and issue decrees and edicts without following them up. He has to be in the field. He has to ensure the directives he gives are implemented to the letter by the responsible education stakeholder without fail.
One such directive is on classroom time. Can we trust to report to the nation at the end of this month that indeed his order has been implemented.
Mr. Minister, you are on the right track. Do not waver. Do not be distracted. Keep it up.
The author is the Revise Editor with the People Daily — [email protected]