Elimu Bora Working Group (EBWG) remains concerned that despite the myriad of challenges facing the Education sector today, inter alia, the extremely below average CBC-JSS Grade 7 transition, Form 1 selection and transition, inconsistent policy pronouncements and threats of privatization in tertiary institutions, incoherent teacher recruitment, deployments, re-deployments, management, the gaping scarcity of financial resources to schools, the infrastructure deficits… there appears to be an all-out State-sanctioned PR mobilisation to make Kenyans feel that all is right with no tangible interventions being seen to effectively address the challenges.
It is now close to a month since the Grade 7 reported to school. The national assessment of public primary schools’ readiness to receive the Grade 7 students and facilitate them to learn obviously encountered gaping challenges which EBWG assumed that the government would be prioritizing in their interventions. Sadly, there seems to be no public confidence in the discordant cold-and-hot blows from the government
We note the following pressing challenges in the Grade 7 transition:-
- There is still a huge gap in provision of the physical infrastructure in most public primary schools including inadequate, insufficient or non-existent buildings and furniture and this is compounded by their accessibility for learners and teachers with disabilities
- The number of teachers recruited for JSS is grossly insufficient and it remains unclear what the status is for the 30,000 that the TSC promised to recruit. We remain concerned that the recruited teachers have not been properly inducted to deliver on the CBC-JSS curriculum. We are alarmed that the government has totally not paid attention to critical issues such as teacher availability, qualifications and readiness to teach, the male-female ration for teachers and special skills required for differently gifted learners such as sign-language abilities and braille-use abilities, among others.
- Most primary schools do not have curriculum materials for delivery of the JSS, especially Grade 7 - teaching and learning materials including teaching aids, text books, exercise books, blackboards, chalk, duster
- A majority of the schools have still not restructured their management and administration to accord with domiciling of JSS in primary schools.
- We are gravely concerned by the low student enrollment and registration in Grade 7 with the rate currently standing between 60-80% and the big question remains- where are the rest of the students?
- There are credible reports that parents are opting to have their children skip Grade 7 to join Standard 8 (CBC to 8-4-4). This in our view confirms that even parents are not able, were not ready and have not been adequately facilitated to transition their children to JSS.
- The vast majority of schools are still grappling with the basics we have highlighted and therefore issues such as health, safety and security have been pushed to the periphery.
- Most public schools remain ill-prepared for the demands of the Digital Learning Program. Availability of equipment and internet connectivity remains an unaddressed challenge.
- Have funds (Ksh 15,000 per student) been transferred to the schools for JSS/ How is financing management system of schools like? (Office, safe cash box, book-keeper, school accounts)
- Where are the 200,000 students who are yet to report to Grade 7?
- Only 80% of the students have reported to Form 1, it is not clear where the remaining 20% are.
- School fees menace – Has the government vacated the fee guidelines issued by Matiang’i/Magoha? Are our day secondary schools free or fee has been introduced?
- Funds transfers for free day secondary schools - what is causing the delay in transferring the Ksh 22,500 per student per year been transferred to schools? Why is there a difference in allocation to JSS? What informed the disparity?
2) 2nd Interim Report of the PWPER
The report covers Tertiary Education and Teacher Education
It focuses on Governance and Financing in Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Governance and Financing in University Education, and Operationalization of the Open University of Kenya
The issue of Entry Requirements for Pre-service Diploma Teacher Education
EBWG worries seem to be aggravated :–
- What yardstick is the PWPER using to declare that “Grade 7 learners have successfully transitioned”? Is this a sign of things to come in the main report? Why the cover-up?
- Why is the visioning for the education in Kenya glued to the Vision 2030 which is in twilight stage? Can’t Kenya project its education beyond the 2030 goals?
- Has the TVET been well re-thought when we are still talking of recruiting an additional 8,817 trainers - at least 50% at the onset and the remainder in a phased approach - to resolve the staffing shortage in TVET institutions? TVET was supposed to be delivering practical skill sets for the trainees and what does retooling TVET trainers on Competency Based Education and Training (CBET) really mean? How and who will deliver it?
- One key issue on TVET is financing. What has been recommended to address it? When students’ fees for University Education is being increased – which we totally disagree with – why is the TVET case silent?
- Why is government keen on controlling the management of public universities by appointing compliant council members? University councils should be selected on the basis of merit and once confirmed, should have the full responsibility of recruiting the VC. Categories of stakeholders eg students, lecturers, non-teaching staff, alumni should have a free hand to elect reps to the councils
- Why is the PWPER silent on call for total overhaul of the University Amendment Act?
- Why is the PWPER silent on the push for privatization of public universities?
WE DEMAND THAT;
- The government must forthwith stop using children as pawn by putting them through a chaotic, ill-thought out and rushed new education system. JSS especially those domiciled in public primary schools are marred with huge challenges ranging from congestion to a shortage in infrastructure, teachers and even classrooms.
- The random movement of primary school teachers to JSS must stop forthwith. In addition to the staffing challenges that will be caused by this movement, we note that most of the primary school teachers have not been trained for JSS.
- The government must urgently account for the more than 200,000 learners that have not reported to JSS. If they are running away from a failed system, what is the government doing to address this?
- The move by government to privatize education by raising university fees and failing to adequately finance TVETs must stop immediately.
- The government must bite the bullet and admit that postponing the roll out of JSS is not an admission of failure but is ultimately in the interest of the learners, parents and the country at large. While we appreciate that the 8-4-4 system is also riddled by many structural problems, Elimu Bora
Working Group holds that the government needs to take more time to evaluate progress in the roll out of JSS and take urgent remedial steps without jeopardizing the lives of our learners.