Parents ask state to consider tender age of Grade 6 learners in junior high transition

Parents ask state to consider tender age of Grade 6 learners in junior high transition

Parents are now seeking intervention from government ahead of junior secondary transition for Grade 6 learners in January.

Parents have raised concern over the tender age of Grade 6 learners who are set to join junior secondary schools early next year.

Despite asking President William Ruto’s government to keep the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), the parents led by their association chairman, Nicholas Maiyo, say the grey areas of the curriculum must be looked into and addressed.

“Though we support CBC rollout, there is an urgent need to address the teething problems at the formative stage,” said association chairman Nicholas Maiyo in Eldoret town.

President Ruto’s taskforce will start its work next week by collecting view from the public on challenges bedeviling the curriculum.

According to Ministry of Education, the Grade 6 learners will sit their final primary school exams in November this year before joining junior secondary at Grade 7.

Parents are worried that their children will be subjected to abuse including sexually owing to the fact that they will be cohabiting in same school compound with senior secondary students under the 8.4.4 curriculum.

Some Grade 6 learners will also be boarders according to the selection exercise carried out by Knec and which ended on 10th September.

The fears are fuelled more so by cases of indiscipline which are rife among secondary school students.

Some parents argue that it would be better if junior secondary classes were domiciled inside primary schools due to the tender age of most Grade 6 learners.

Junior secondary classes involve Grade 7, 8 and 9. After junior secondary learners will transition to senior secondary which involves Grade 10, 11 and 12.

This is not the first time the question is being raised on whether the Grade 6 learners will be safe inside secondary schools with mature teenagers.

In April this year secondary school heads through their union raised the issue of young age of students who will join junior secondary school in January under the new curriculum.

Under their umbrella, Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Associations (KSSHA), the school heads were worried that schools might get learners as young as 10.

“If you look at the recent KCPE report, it was clear that we are having a lot of underage children in our schools,’’ said the chairman, Kahi Indimuli, during the launch of CBC training for secondary school teachers at the Kenya Institute of Special Education, Nairobi.

The number of registered candidates for KCPE, last year, who were 12 years and below increased from 26,378 (2.21 per cent) in 2020 to 33,627 (2.74 per cent).

“This poses a challenge since the training of secondary and primary teachers is a bit different in terms of how to handle learners, and I want to believe that one of component in this CBC training will include management of younger children,’’ said Mr Indimuli.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia urged teachers to pay special attention and offer psychological support to young junior secondary school learners.

Junior schools will admit children aged 12 years unlike 8-4-4 system, which admits students aged about 14 in Form One.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education of Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary-General Akello Misori urged TSC and the Ministry of Education to continue developing the capacity of teachers, and build institutions with friendly facilities to accommodate the students.

‘‘The fears which are being drawn in this regard is how you make a child of 12 years to travel all the way from Mombasa to a junior secondary school in Kisumu, for instance, away from their parents,’’ said Mr Misori.

He said the learners in junior and senior secondary schools should be made to co-exist well despite their age differences.

‘‘So long as we have requisite facilities to accommodate them, including boarding facilities, lockers and teachers, there will be no problem,’’ he said.

Yesterday Kuppet also asked the government to include them in the planned Competence Based Curriculum taskforce announced by President William Ruto.

Kuppet said they will be key in giving their input on the challenges facing CBC implementation.

Kuppet secretary-general Akelo Misori said the union has also written to the Ministry of Education demanding the inclusion of teachers’ unions in the taskforce.

They want the three teachers unions, namely Kuppet, Knut and the Kenya Union of Special Needs Teachers (Kusnet), be part of the team.

“Kuppet welcomes President Ruto’s decision to create a taskforce to review, assess or guide the implementation of CBC. Towards that end, the union has written to the Ministry of Education demanding the inclusion of teachers’ unions in the body,” said Mr Misori.

Key among the issues that teachers want to be addressed by the committee are teacher preparedness, the double-intake in secondary schools in 2023, and parental engagement in the curriculum.

Mr Misori said the taskforce will provide a platform for the airing of public views on CBC as provided in Article 10 of the constitution, which requires public participation on all key decisions.

“To succeed, every education system must get the goodwill of all stakeholders including the government, teachers, learners and all sectors of society,” he said.

Kuppet noted that the implementation of CBC systems, which have been widely adopted in Africa, have faced peculiar challenges that must be addressed for the proper functioning of the curriculum.

On Tuesday, Dr Ruto announced that he will appoint a committee in the coming weeks to review the CBC.

The president also promised to resolve the issue of double transition of Grade six learners and Standard Eight pupils to secondary schools.

West Pokot Knut secretary Martin Sembelo said the former government forced the CBC implementation yet teachers had not been trained properly.

“The greatest impediment is that teachers are not properly trained. There is no need for teachers to sit in class yet they don’t know anything. CBC is not there. It is only drama in class. Some things are not practical. CBC has a problem, it was rushed,” he said

He explained that the new system is facing implementation challenges.

“We need collective participation of all education stakeholders. Education is a crucial ministry where you cannot mess with our children. This is the right time for its review,” he said.

Mr Sembelo noted that Knut is ready to join the taskforce next week and unearth everything.

Implementation of CBC and transition from primary to junior secondary and later senior secondary school is based on the recommendations of the Taskforce that was appointed by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Prof George Magoha, in 2019 and which concluded and handed over its report to President Uhuru Kenyatta in February, 2021.

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