Three classes will begin their third term while the rest will start the 2020 second term when schools reopen on January 4 hoping to recover 10 months of learning calendar lost due to Covid-19 shutdown.
The recovery journey will be long and complicated. It is likely to take three years for the school calendar to stabilise and revert back to the January-December tradition cycle.
By January 2021, schools will have lost 23 weeks of teaching and learning, equal to second and third terms.
In the new calendar released by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha on Monday, the ministry plans to recover the lost time within six months.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had, in his seventh State of the Nation address in Parliament on Thursday, directed the Education ministry to release the school calendar in a fortnight.
The President had earlier ordered all other classes to resume learning in January to end efforts by a section of stakeholders to have schools fully reopen this year amid increased numbers of Covid-19 infections.
He said that “as a responsible government, the health and safety of children remain the paramount consideration.”
In the new calendar, the second term for classes yet to reopen will run between January 4 and March 19. This will also be the third term for Grade 4, KCPE and KCSE candidates.
Learners will take a seven-week break as national examination candidates take their final tests to end of their primary and secondary school education.
Third term for classes that resume studies in January will run between May and July, the end of the recovery of time lost during the shutdown.
Learning will resume after a one-week break when all learners will transition to the next classes (in July).
Pre-primary (Nursery) schools will also be required to admit all four-year-olds to PP1 in July. Ordinarily, this happens in January.
Those who sit their KCPE exam will be reporting for Form One studies in July as well.
Previously, KCPE and KCSE exams were written between October and December. The KCPE candidates transitioned to Form one in January.
This will change in the next two years as KCPE and KCSE exams will be held between March and April.
Year 2022 will be the busiest year in the country’s academic history with the current Class 7 and Form 3 classes sitting KCPE and KCSE in March and April and those now in Standard 6 and Form 2 writing the KCPE and KCSE tests in the same year in November and December.
The normal school cycle will make a return in 2023 as schools reopen for first term in January.
Despite the efforts to recover the time lost, the next three years point to a heavily packed calendar that could prove chaotic and hectic to both learners and teachers.
This is how the Education ministry runs a school tear: First and second terms have each 14 weeks – the longest. The learners have five days half term breaks.
The third term is the shortest with only nine weeks and no mid-term break.
In total, the school cycle runs for 38 weeks. However, to recover the time lost, the Education ministry has reviewed the cycle of the school calendar to run for 30 weeks.
In the 2021 cycle, second term will run for 11 weeks, three weeks short of the normal cycle.
The third term which ordinarily lasts nine weeks will be 10 weeks long in the 2021 calendar.
Third term for learners will run between May and July and will have a three-day half term break and one-week holiday.
Grade 4 CBC learners will transition to Grade 5 in July.
Coincidentally, the journey to return the school calendar to the normal January- December cycle will correspond with the anticipated transition of the new curriculum pioneer class to junior secondary.
Under the new curriculum, the learners are expected to move to junior high after Grade 6.
With the transition to secondary school, the learners will deal a double intake to the institutions.
In his address to the nation, President Kenyatta, while acknowledging the limitation of adequate infrastructure problem in schools, pledged to decongest the bulging school numbers.
“Public day and boarding schools are overstretched as a result, the learners are congested in classes and boarding,” the President said.
The pledge is to conclusively deal with the congestion problem within the next 24 months by constructing at least 12,500 classrooms and related school facilities.
The classrooms will be built under new cost-effective guidelines to be developed by the Education ministry and that of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development effective December 1, 2020.
“A new set of school building guidelines that allow the use of appropriate and cost-effective building technologies suited to the varied geographical needs of our institutions,” President Kenyatta said.
He asked parliamentarians to exclusively use the CDF fund to address the various gaps within the education sector.