Ministry should revisit plans to domicile JSS in existing secondary schools
The operationalisation of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) continues to take shape as the nation gravitates towards a major stage for this nascent education system.
At the end of this year, Grade Six learners will sit a major exam, that is poised to be a crucial bridge in transitioning to Junior Secondary Schools (JSSs).
But it is the decision by the government to domicile JSS in the existing secondary schools' precincts, that appears to muddy a successful realisation of the intended benefits of this curriculum.
I find this domiciling laden with innumerable challenges, some of which cannot be sorted through mere assurances from either the Ministry of Education or even its agency; the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.
Continued commissioning by Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) George Magoha of completed JSS classes already constructed in secondary schools, lends credence to the argument that this JSS domiciling in secondary schools is a foregone conclusion, save for a recent confusing statement from the CS that some primary schools may be considered for JSS domiciling later.
I fear the age gap will be among the myriad of challenges bound to dog this upcoming stage of transition. It’s so because we shall have learners aged between 11 to 13 years, having to learn in the same compound with their seniors aged between 15 to even 19 years; as it’s usually the age group in secondary schools.
This age gap is bound to leave the younger ones prone to vulnerabilities and manipulations that may even affect their psycho-social growth, not to mention rampant bullying in a number of secondary schools.
Currently, the government is constructing just a single additional classroom in some selected secondary schools for the purpose of this transition, when we know too well that many primary schools have more than one stream per class, which will likely churn out a great number of pupils than the one additional classroom can barely hold.
It’s imperative to consider also that many secondary schools have smaller parcels of land compared to primary schools, yet they are now expected to hold six streams of classes; three for the proposed JSS and 3 more for the upper secondary. This is a recipe for unnecessary congestion.
The argument that many JSS pupils will be day-scholars may fall flat on the faces of all stakeholders, given that secondary schools are sparsely located compared to primary schools.
Many underage pupils will have to become boarders against the wishes of their guardians, mostly due to the location of the JSS’s they will be admitted come January 2023. This will be a confusion galore.
It’s my considered opinion that JSS’s ought to be renamed upper primary school or middle level school and be domiciled in primary school precincts. This would alleviate some logistical nightmares, bound to be experienced in the JSS transition format as currently intended.
As a growing nation, it would be catastrophic to make a generation of learners guinea pigs for a curriculum whose drafters appear to have, focused much on competencies nurturing and enhancement, but ignored the associated nuances that come with this intended domiciling of JSS in secondary schools precincts.
—The writer is a News Anchor at Kameme FM