Teachers, funds scarcity as junior high schools open

One of the six laboratories at Sheikh Khalifah Bin Zayed School in Mombasa County

One of the six laboratories that will be used by junior secondary school students at Sheikh Khalifah Bin Zayed School in Mombasa County on January 5.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The most pressing issue for most public schools that will host the JSS is lack of enough teachers. This is despite the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) having recruited 30,000 teachers, who will report for duty today.
  • For one to qualify to teach in JSS, they must have a minimum qualification of a diploma in education with two teaching subjects.

A new chapter opens today for 1,253,577 learners who are set to join junior secondary school (JSS) across the country as confusion looms and schools struggle to deal with challenges that the new structure presents.

The learners will report to primary schools that are grappling with financial, logistical, infrastructural and staffing challenges and it might take some time before learning effectively takes shape.

Although the Ministry of Education released guidelines on the implementation of JSS on Tuesday last week, schools say some of the requirements are not implementable before the learners report to school.

The most pressing issue for most public schools that will host the JSS is lack of enough teachers. This is despite the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) having recruited 30,000 teachers, who will report for duty today.

Last week, the Education Cabinet secretary revealed that more than 20,000 schools have been approved to host JSS, meaning that most schools will receive only one of the newly recruited teachers while there are 12 subjects to be taught.

“We’ve been told that only one teacher will be posted here. We’ll organise how to continue teaching the learners just as we were doing when they were in Grade Six,” A teacher in Kiambu County told Nation.

For one to qualify to teach in JSS, they must have a minimum qualification of a diploma in education with two teaching subjects. TSC has also put out a request to primary school teachers who have the required qualifications and are willing to be deployed to JSS to apply by February 6.

“Only teachers serving under permanent and pensionable (terms) in public primary schools who meet requisite qualifications are encouraged to apply,” the advertisement on the TSC website reads.

The teachers must have scored a mean grade of C+ in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam or its equivalent and at least a C+ in the two teaching subjects in the same examination. They must have studied at least eight units in each of the two teaching subjects and be serving as primary school teachers employed by TSC.

According to commission CEO Nancy Macharia, the newly-recruited teachers will be put through a retooling regime to prepare them to teach JSS learners.

TSC targets to train 90,000 new teachers and others currently teaching in secondary schools by April. The training will be conducted by 2,376 master trainers who have already been trained.

Whereas most learners will continue learning in the same schools they have been attending, those from institutions that have not been given approval for JSS will have to move to other schools.

“Those that have not qualified are actually very few because our major criterion was based on the enrolment, the numbers that we have as they transition. And there are others that will serve as feeder schools to those that will be offering JSS,” Education CS Ezekiel Machogu said last week.

According to the guidelines, primary schools in high density areas and urban informal settlements that had an enrolment of less than 45 learners in Grade Six or those lacking the basic facilities to domicile a JSS will serve as feeder schools to other JSSs within a two-kilometre proximity.

Although the learners will report today, the government has not disbursed the promised Sh9.6 billion capitation funds to JSS school accounts. They will be registered afresh on the National Education Management Information System (Nemis) to facilitate the disbursement of the funds. The learners will maintain their unique personal identifier, numbers they will use throughout their school cycle.

The Ministry of Education has directed each school’s board of management to establish a management committee that will operationalise JSS, manage education and resources of the institution for a one-year transitional period ending in December.

The committees are required to open three accounts to receive the government funds: tuition, operations and, infrastructure grants. Each learner will receive a total of Sh15,000 in capitation. Sh4,000 will go to the infrastructure account. A circular regarding the utilisation of the remainder is yet to be issued.

Different uniform

 JSS learners are required to wear a different uniform to distinguish them from those in primary school but a spot check by Nation revealed that many schools are yet to settle on a preferred uniform. Parents will bear the cost of the uniform. However, the ministry has warned managements of schools against turning away any learner on account of not having the appropriate uniform.

On infrastructure, schools will begin JSS without the envisioned infrastructure especially for the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. However, learners in public schools appear more disadvantaged; private schools have already invested in the infrastructure.

In the long run, the government aims to establish laboratories with basic apparatus, equipment and specimens relevant to integrated science as well as workshops for pre-technical studies with relevant working tools and safety equipment and materials, .

A number of schools have reported receiving textbooks procured directly by the government from various contracted publishers. Mr Machogu launched the distribution last week, and promised that all schools will have the books by the end of this week.

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