Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has called an urgent meeting of education stakeholders this week to discuss the new school calendar, national examinations dates and how to recover the “lost” year following the unprecedented disruption by the pandemic.
The crisis meeting is expected to resolve the uncertainties around the academic year after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the majority of learners would return to school in January 2021.
The meeting is also expected to discuss the challenge of having two Standard Five and Form One classes in one year, which is emerging as a teachers’ headache. Form Four, Standard Eight and Grade 4 students were allowed back on October 12.
The delay in reopening schools for learners in PP1-2, Standard 1-3 and 5-7, and Forms 1-3 due to the Covid-19 crisis has caused anxiety among schoolgoing children, teachers and parents because of the lost class time.
Education Chief Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia told the Sunday Nation that the ministry is considering several options.
“Among the proposals, we may consider is to compress the second and third terms to ensure that this year’s school calendar ends by June,” he said.
Mr Kinuthia said they might also consider delaying the admission of Form Ones by a month to avoid having two Form One classes next year. Form Ones would then report in July, after the current class transitions to Form Two. Among the worries school administrators have is how to manage the two classes at a time.
In primary schools, the Grade Four learners who are currently in their second term are expected to transition to Grade Five in May, when the 2021 school calendar was scheduled to start. Those in Standard 8 were scheduled to report to Form One in May.
But with learners in PP 1 and 2, Grade One to Three, Standard Five to Standard Seven and Forms One to Three reporting in January, the challenge is how to synchronise the learning.
“We are going to rework the school calendar together with education stakeholders and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development,” said Mr Kinuthia.
The CAS said it is possible to fit two school terms in six months.
“The idea is to have 2020, 2021 and 2022 school calendars covered within a short time and have the normal school calendar resume by January 2023,” he said.
Prof Magoha (right) has said when schools open on January 5, they would resume the second term. He also said a new timetable is planned to reduce lost time in the academic calendar.
“The national examinations timetable will also be reviewed and made public soon,” he said.
The Standard 8 candidates were scheduled to sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education between March 22- 24 while those in Form Four were to take the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education tests between March 25-April 16. It is not clear if the government will push the calendar to the end of the year or if the exams will be pushed to mid-year.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Secretary-General Akelo Misori said the elephant in the room is how secondary schools would accommodate an additional one million Form Ones in schools “and how teachers will teach two classes in one term”.
“We have prepared our proposal as a union. We are ready to present it at the education stakeholders meeting once invited by the CS. The biggest issue is how to compress next academic year for learners to cover this year’s syllabus within a limited timeframe,” said Mr Misori.
Kenya Parents Association Chairman Nicholas Maiyo also sees the difficulty in compressing the academic calendar. He said the earlier proposed community learning, which the courts stopped, was the best for learners during the Covid-19 restrictions.