There have been concerns over the government’s preparedness for the transition to Junior Secondary School (JSS) in January. Whereas Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has repeatedly sought to assure Kenyans that all is well, his statement on Monday asking parents with children in private schools that have established JSS sections to keep them there is a cause for worry.
Inasmuch as private schools complement the provision of education by the government, they should never be offered as an alternative. Public education remains the responsibility of the government, which it cannot delegate.
Many parents turn to the costly private schooling not out of choice but having been pushed by the congestion, under-staffing, poor infrastructure and low quality of education in public primary schools, specifically. They then take their children to public secondary schools, where the quality of education is better. However, those schools are currently over-enrolled.
For Prof Magoha to ask parents to continue with private education is an abdication of responsibility to provide quality education for all. It also shows that the government is ill-prepared for the transition yet the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) framework was published in 2017 and there was enough time to prepare for the forthcoming phase.
The CBC implementation is at a crucial stage and the ongoing efforts to build 10,000 classrooms to accommodate the more than 1.2 million pioneer learners will barely scratch the surface. Teachers will also be overwhelmed by the huge workload thrust into their hands and that risks the quality of education to be offered. Crowded schools are also likely to bring about a fight for facilities and breed indiscipline.
The next government must allocate sufficient resources for expansion of school infrastructure. Also necessary is hiring of additional teachers and adequate training on the new pedagogy. Teachers must buy into the idea; otherwise, it will flop. Parents, teachers and learners also need clear guidelines on how they will be selected to join JSS and what it entails.