Learners in junior secondary school (JSS) will have a reduced workload following recommendations to scale down the number of core learning areas from 12 to 10.
In the new changes, life skills will be combined with social studies while health education will now be taught alongside integrated science, which comprises biology, physics and chemistry.
Nation understands the official announcement of the changes will be made after President William Ruto receives the report of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER). The tenure of the team expired yesterday and is expected to table its report anytime now.
However, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has informally instructed publishers to withhold the submission for evaluation of teaching and learning materials of the affected learning areas for Grade Eight.
They are to submit materials for evaluation for other subjects by April 21 2023. KICD boss Charles Ong’ondo confirmed the communication to the publishers but said the matter will be firmed up after the PWPER tables its report.
The other learning areas are English, Kiswahili (or Kenyan Sign Language), mathematics, integrated science, health education, pre-technical and pre-career education, social studies, religious education, business studies, agriculture, life skills and sports and physical education.
Information and communication technology is integrated and used as a delivery tool for all the subjects. The optional subjects are visual arts, performing arts, home science, computer science, foreign languages (German, French, Mandarin and Arabic), Kenyan Sign Language and indigenous languages.
“The news hit us hard as we’re in the process of finalising the materials. We don’t know how much content will be shed off in order to combine the learning areas without making it too shallow or too bulky for the learner. This now requires new curriculum designs,” a publisher told Nation.
Implementation of JSS has so been far from smooth with learners in public schools most affected. Schools do not have enough teachers despite the government having hired 30,000 new teachers in February. Learning was also delayed by the late delivery of textbooks, which arrived more than one month after schools reopened.
Public schools also lack the infrastructure and equipment to teach new subject areas. The changes will be a relief to the learners currently in Grade Seven as they are already studying the 12 core subjects.
Prof Ong’ondo said the curriculum designs for Grade Nine are ready and KICD will call for the submission of materials for evaluation “as early as August”. This, he said, is intended to get the books in schools early before the learners report.
Grade Nine is the last class in JSS before learners sit their exit exams ahead of the transition to senior secondary school where they will choose their preferred pathways. Learners will choose from three pathways. These are arts and sports science, social sciences and Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).