Inside President Ruto's plan for the new education syllabus

Education Reforms

Kenyans give their views to the Presidential Working Party on Education Reform at Tambach Teachers College. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

After President William Ruto received the interim report of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reform (PWPER) at State House on Thursday, he took the team through the document with a fine tooth comb.

The President is reported to have told the team to give him the best advice for the nation.

“How did we get here?” he asked those in attendance.

After two hours of deliberations, he had made up his mind.

After witnessing the swearing-in of principal secretaries yesterday, Dr Ruto talked about how he arrived at the decision of domiciling junior secondary school (JSS) in the primary school structure.

“It is my expectation that the Ministry of Education will move with speed to ensure there is synergy and seamless transition of our children under CBC,” he said.

The Saturday Nation can disclose some of the details from the meeting that have not been made public.

There will be more work than simply retaining learners in primary schools.

JSS learners will take fewer subjects than what is currently in the Basic Education Curriculum Framework (BCEF).

The PWPER observed that there was overlap of some learning areas and recommended that related subjects be grouped and taught together.

BCEF has 12 core subjects and optional ones. Core subjects are English, Kiswahili or Kenya Sign Language, mathematics, integrated science, home science, pre-tech and pre-career education, social studies, religious education, business studies, agriculture, life skills and sports and physical education.

The learners are also expected to choose one or two optional subjects from visual arts, performing arts, computer science and a foreign language (German, French, Mandarin, Arabic, Kenya Sign Language or Indigenous language).

To reduce the workload on children, the President instructed the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to re-organise the learning areas though a timeframe was not given.

For Grades 1 to 6, it was proposed that the number of learning areas remain the same but the curriculum designs be revised to reduce the workload.

“It’s too early to comment without the comprehensive report but these things must be done fast. We’ve done corrections with the KICD. We haven’t printed but we’re ready once given the go-ahead,” Kenya Publishers Association chairman Kiarie Kamau.

The President’s statement indicated that the government would hire 30,000 teachers to bridge the staffing gap in public schools which stands at 116,000.

Though details of the recruitment (which the President directed be done by January 2023) were not made public, the Saturday Nation has learnt that the tutors may be engaged on a contract basis instead of permanent and pensionable terms.

A proposal that might rub teachers unions the wrong way is to hire diploma holders from technical and vocational education training (TVET) institutions to teach pre-tech subjects.

There are few trained instructors for the subjects and the earlier Teachers Service Commission (TSC) plan was to retool secondary school tutors who have combinations in mathematics, physics and home science to teach the subjects.

Pre-tech subjects are woodwork, metalwork, technical drawing, electricity, electronics, home management, typewriting, shorthand, textile and clothing, auto-mechanics and accounting.

President Ruto is said to have been against dropping of pre-tech subjects as this lays a basis for TVET, an area that is key to the Kenya Kwanza manifesto.

By hiring TVET diploma holders, the government would also be extending employment opportunities to “hustlers”.

Yesterday, President Ruto said a majority of stakeholders who made recommendations to the PWPER supported the CBC but made suggestions for its improvement.

“Eighty six per cent decided or proposed that children in Grade 6 should move to Grade 7 but junior secondary be domiciled with primary schools. It is for the reason that many parents need to keep an eye on young children going to Grade 7,8 and 9,” he said.

MPs will be required to utilise the Constituency Development Fund to build a classroom and a laboratory in every primary school.

“The government will work with MPs so that they can be delivered in time to provide seamless movement of children across the education ladder,” Dr Ruto said.

He asked Kenyans to embrace the parental engagement concept, adding that parents had asked for a reduction of their involvement in the learning of children.

“I want to suggest, respectfully, that as parents. I have pressure from my daughter every evening, asking for assistance in this or that assignment. We must know that the education of our children is not the entire responsibility of teachers. It is ours as well,” he said.