Address issue of textbooks, teachers in JSS

JSS Textbooks

Junior Secondary School students display new textbooks at Kakamega Primary School on January 30, 2023.

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua finally admitted on national television that the implementation of the Competency-Based-Curriculum was rushed. To his credit, admission of an error is the first step towards a solution.

Whereas the issue of classrooms is still sticky in many parts of the country, the most urgent is the shortage of teachers and lack of enough course books for all the learning areas.

It should be known that most schools, on average, lost the first two weeks of learning since they hadn’t received course books, and neither had the Teachers Service Commission deployed the newly-recruited tutors. Even so, many primary school teachers took up classes in the JSS, with the hope that they would relinquish them once the new teachers were deployed.

But things have quietly settled, and for the worse. Most schools received two teachers for JSS, and these have been made to share the 14 learning areas under JSS! I shudder to imagine how a newly-recruited teacher, untrained on matters CBC, will shoulder all the seven learning areas without suffering burnout. Reportedly, learners are made to copy notes most of the time.

Integrated Science

A subject such as Integrated Science, which ought to be taught using an inquiry-based approach – engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation – is taught solely through the lecture method. Other subjects such as Music, Pre-Technical, and Visual Arts, new areas for most high school teachers (trained in only two teaching subjects) have also been allocated to them. If this situation continues, the first cohort of JSS will suffer irreparable damage.

Four things need quick attention. One, the TSC should ascertain the actual number of teachers engaging JSS learners. It is a fact that primary school teachers are capable of handling some of these learning areas, hence, should relieve the few teachers deployed under JSS.

Let TSC be informed that many primary school teachers are quietly protesting their inclusion in the JSS programme, granted that they were initially deployed to teach primary school pupils. Accordingly, they wonder whether they will teach secondary school level while still holding the primary school pay grade.

Two, TSC sub-county directors ought to move around and ascertain that teaching is going on, and if not, find out why, and what can be done.

Supplementary budget

Three, TSC, upon receipt of the funds from the supplementary budget, should move quickly and retool teachers, beginning with the newly-deployed ones under JSS. Four, sub-country directors under the ministry of education should ascertain that all JSS learners have been registered on Nemis.

Many head teachers are experiencing problems doing so, yet the statistics are critical in the disbursement of JSS capitation. The same will inform the equitable distribution of books.

In the final analysis, teachers (the curriculum interpreters) and books (reference points) are the necessary conditions for any curriculum implementation, hence, should be prioritised.

Dr Osabwa, PhD, is a lecturer at Alupe University, Busia. [email protected].