Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) now wants the government to reverse the decision to domicile Junior Secondary School (JSS) in primary schools in order to address the apparent crisis in learning institutions.
Kuppet also wants Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER) disbanded claiming that it has caused more confusion than solutions in the JSS transition.
The trade union officials, led by Secretary General Akelo Misori yesterday said JSS should have a minimum of seven teachers and as the situation stands, the future of the over 1.2 million learners is unknown given the challenges currently being experienced.
“Having observed the transition to JSS since January 30 when the Grade Seven students reported to school, KUPPET urges the government to urgently call a crisis meeting involving all key stakeholders to resolve the fundamental crisis building up before our eyes,” said Misori in a press conference yesterday held in Nairobi.
Kuppet said the PWPER cardinal mistake was to deviate from the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) implementation plan that had guided the new curriculum for five years, without thinking through their recommendations.
The union also held that it is not too late for the government to domicile JSS in secondary schools saying that the State Department for Early Learning and Basic Education had invested massively in addressing some of the shortfalls that have emerged, in anticipation of this transition.
The union called for a thorough crisis management of JSS saying it will be worse to postpone the problem again to next year.
“It is common sense that building more classrooms in secondary schools – which already have laboratories – would be easier and more cost-effective than trying to create whole new infrastructures like labs in primary schools,” they insisted.
Wherever JSS is domiciled, challenges were bound to ensue, the union said keeping these learners in primary schools any longer than the next school holiday would be tantamount to wasting their entire academic year.
Misori said such a critical sector, as education cannot anchor its decisions on opinion polls, which he said formed part of the decision to domicile JSS as opposed to being guided by expert advise and extensive research.
“It was unfounded fear that occasioned the team to make a decision the nation cannot support. A month later there has been no learning. Yet, in all schools up to the sub-county level, there is at least a secondary classroom built and laboratory which is key to lay the foundation for JSS pathways. We are now grappling with establishing if the books have been received,” he stated.
According to KUPPET, indicators of the building crisis include ineffective delivery of the curriculum in public schools.
They government has posted only one JSS teacher per school, who is grossly overburdened in handling nine lessons per day covering 14 compulsory learning areas.
KUPPET also stated that primary schools where JSS is domiciled lack the critical infrastructure for JSS, including laboratories, libraries and facilities for extracurricular activities.
Whereas the guidelines for implementation of junior secondary education provide a path for the development of such facilities, that process will take time, depriving current learners of the quality education they deserve,” Misori stated.
Other issues they said are building up and may pose serious challenges include unclear teacher management procedures that have resulted in many cases being lodged by JSS teachers or primary school head-teachers at the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and County Education Boards.
Misori said there is low or non-existent education support staff in the institutions, limited learning materials for JSS in some areas and low capitation funds, which has also been delayed.
“Only a stakeholders’ meeting can address these problems before they metamorphose into a full-blown crisis. Feedback from County Education Boards indicates that many public servants, including senior officials at the Ministry of Education and the Teachers Service Commission, are cautious in reporting this crisis for fear of going against the grain,” Misori noted.
KUPPET national chairman, Omboko Milemba joined in the debate saying the country is not late to correct the controversies noted in the last month.