Learners to begin squeezed school calendar in January

George Magoha

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha sits on one of the new desks provided by the government at Ayany Primary School in Kibra, Nairobi on November 14, 2020.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

The race to recover the lost 2020 academic year will see learners undertake a crash programme for two years starting January 4, the Education ministry announced Monday, while releasing a tight school calendar intended to save students from repeating classes.

The normal school calendar will not resume until 2023, as per a three-year plan released by Cabinet Secretary George Magoha. School terms and holidays will be squeezed to fit in more learning time, while half-term breaks have also been reduced from one week to just three days.

The tight calendar also seeks to avoid a backlog that would have choked the education system and caused massive congestion that many had feared following the closure of all schools in mid-March after the country recorded its first Covid-19 patient.

“I wish to assure the country that the government is determined to ensure a safe reopening and learning of our schools. In doing so, we are drawing important lessons from the partial reopening that has taken place since October,” said Prof Magoha.

The government has stood firm against calls to recall candidate learners in Grade Four, Class Eight and Form Four who returned to school a month ago, despite reports of scores of infections across the country.

Reporting back

All learners report back to school on January 4 and close on March 19, as per the school calendar released Monday at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

Grade Four, Class Eight and Form Four learners will be starting their third term whereas the other learners will be reporting back to school to start Term Two work. The current Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidates will sit out four months after their March national examinations before joining secondary school, to give those in Form One a chance to proceed to Form Two. Grade Four learners will also take a four-month break from March 19 to July 26, before their transition to Grade Five, to give their school mates a window to complete their Term Three.

Four-year-old children who are set to join school for the first time will have to wait until July 26 when the 2021 school calendar will officially start.

All learners will take a seven-week holiday to allow for the administration and marking of the KCPE and Kenya Certificate of Secondary School Education (KCSE) examinations.

National exams

KCPE candidates will sit the Kenya National Examinations Council papers from March 22 to 24, while KCSE candidates will take their tests from March 26 to April 21.

Subjects that require candidates to undertake projects or practicals such as art and design and woodwork have already done their tasks. Practicals in home science and oral tests in foreign languages, Kenya sign language and Braille will commence on March 8.

Prof Magoha said schools that run on the international curriculum and are still conducted home-based teaching will be required to reopen for physical learning on January 4. The seven-week, second term break between March 20 and May 9 will be followed by a squeezed third term that will be covered in ten weeks, from May 10 to July 16.

After a one-week break in July, learners will begin an unconventional academic year whose first term will begin on July 26 and end in April 2022 after the current Class Seven and Form Three learners sit their KCPE and KCSE examinations respectively, between March and April.

President Kenyatta last week directed the Ministry of Education to release the 2021 school calendar within 14 days. Prof Magoha said the government is determined to ensure a safe reopening of all schools.

Covid-19 safety measures

Schools will be expected to comply with Covid-19 safety measures, including wearing of face masks and installing hand-washing points.

Teachers Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia said tutors who have underlying conditions and those above 58 years of age have been encouraged to work from home.

“Teachers must know that we care for them; we’re keeping a daily tab of all teachers as an employer,” she added.

Mrs Macharia said the TSC has negotiated with the teachers’ medical provider for them to receive treatment for Covid-19 related illnesses under their insurance cover.

“A Covid-19 incidence reporting tool using USSD code *202*07# has been set up to assist teachers report to the scheme provider any suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases, to enable them receive care and support in the fastest way possible.

“Teachers are encouraged to continue using the code together with the 24 Hour Scheme Helpline 1528 for assistance and treatment coordination for Covid-19 cases,” she said.