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How State plans to recover ‘lost’ school days

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Students go home on April 29, 2024.

Photo credit: Fille | Nation Media Group

The government will extend second term and third term due to the indefinite postponement of the reopening of schools following the ongoing floods that have caused massive destruction and left more than 200 people dead. 

The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination, which is scheduled to start in November by Form Four candidates will, however, not be affected by the reorganisation of the school calendar.

Initially, basic education institutions, including nursery, primary and secondary schools, were supposed to reopen on April 29 for the second term according to this year’s education calendar. However, this was pushed to May 6, today, due to the flooding. 

But on Friday during his national address, President William Ruto announced the indefinite postponement of the reopening of all schools. 

The President did not elaborate on online learning, which was adopted by the previous administration during the Covid-19 pandemic when schools were shut for more than seven months. 

However, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu said online learning can continue.

“The learning devices are limited,” said the CS, adding: “I want to reassure parents that all is well. I am sure the Form Fours are studying while at home. Children should continue studying at home.”

This year’s academic calendar shows that first term lasted 13 weeks from January 8 to April 5. Students took a mid-term break from February 29 to March 3 followed by a three-week holiday from April 6 to 28. 

Second term, the longest of the three school terms, was supposed to commence on April 29 and run for 14 weeks until August 2. Learners were to break for mid-term from June 20 to June 23.

Learners would also have a three-week holiday from August 5 to 25. This is the term that has been adversely affected by the current flooding situation after the state postponed reopening until further notice. 

Third term, the shortest, is set to begin on August 26 and run nine weeks. It is set to end on October 25. 

National exams, including the Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA) and the Kenya Intermediate Level Education Assessment (KILEA) are scheduled for October 28 to 31.

Due to the phasing out of the 8-4-4 system from this year, we will not have Kenya Certificate of Primary Education candidates. The last KCPE cohort is in Form 1. 
KPSEA is administered at Grade 6 before they transit to Junior Secondary School.

However, the results are not used to place candidates in JSS, but to monitor their learning progress. Learners were assessed in four subjects, including Mathematics, English, Integrated Science and Kiswahili. 

The performance level is put in four categories, exceeding expectation, meeting expectation, approaching expectation and below expectation. 

Mr Machogu said following the extension of the April holidays due to the flooding menace that has destroyed school infrastructure, the school calendar will be readjusted.

“The KCSE exams will not be postponed, we have not come to that decision yet. We are hopeful that in this month, the rains will subside and immediately that happens we will reopen the schools,” explained Mr Machogu.

But to recover the period ‘lost’ during the floods, the CS said his ministry would also extend the term. 

“Such that when they were to close for three weeks in August, we will reduce the time and also part of it will be recovered in December,” the CS told the Nation in an interview.

However, on Friday, after President Ruto’s announcement, the Machogu-led ministry directed school heads to allow the students to return safely to their homes.

“The directive is informed by the prevailing heavy rains and flooding affecting parts of the country. You are hereby instructed to ensure the implementation of the foregoing directive in your areas of jurisdiction,” said Mr Machogu in a circular to all regional, county and sub-county directors of education. 

He further instructed all boards of management of schools to convene meetings and submit reports to their respective county education boards regarding the status of their schools.

“These reports should detail all relevant matters, such as any damage caused to school infrastructure due to the adverse weather conditions and outline mitigation measures. These reports should be submitted by May 8, ” he said.

The rains have had devastating effects on schools, including damaging some infrastructure, submerging buildings and sanitation facilities, and destroying learning and teaching materials. 

Currently, some schools are hosting people displaced by the floods.
Mr Machogu said the reports are critical for engaging with the National Government Constituency Development Fund on the restoration of the damaged infrastructure.

He directed county education boards to convene urgent meetings to assess the situation in their respective areas and submit comprehensive reports to the Cabinet Secretary by May 10.

“The Regional Directors of Education shall continually provide updates on the status of learning institutions in their respective areas using the provided templates,” he added.

The CS directed all field education officers working in areas where schools are hosting displaced persons to liaise with the local National Government Administration Officers to immediately identify alternative accommodation for affected persons to ensure the facilities are available for normal learning activities.