The government’s community-based learning got a boost after 224,494 teachers signed up, two days to the Friday listing deadline.
Preliminary data from Teachers Service Commission (TSC) shows that by end of Tuesday, 155,176 primary school teachers had registered with local officials.
Another 69,318 secondary school teachers have also been registered to participate in the programme that has been identified as a means of engaging learners after closure of schools following Covid-19 outbreak.
The numbers signal near total compliance as only 112,938 primary and secondary teachers are targeted in the remaining days.
TSC Head of Corporate Affairs, Beatrice Wababu, said by end of Friday, all teachers should have registered for the roll out. “We are impressed by the numbers so far. Kindly note that teachers have had a whole week to register and we are expecting 100 per cent compliance by end of tomorrow,” said Wababu.
But Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha) want teachers’ participation to be to voluntary.
They argue that with the possibility of community infection and vulnerability of some teachers to coronavirus, the programme should not be mandatory.
“This exercise should be voluntary. Its structure should allow teachers to participate at will,” Kuppet Secretary General Akello Misori said.
Misori said teachers who fall in the Covid-19 vulnerable group should be exempted from the programme. “Those teachers above 58 years should keep off this programme unless they volunteer to do so and observe the health protocols,” he said.
Proposals have, however, been made to bring in university and college graduates, social workers and counseling psychologists to support community-based learning.
More volunteers from faith based organisations and community health workers have also been proposed to supplement teachers when the home-based teaching is rolled out.
Kepsha chairman Nicholas Gathemia said safety of teachers and learners should be paramount at all times. “The programme is noble and we support it. But let us allow teachers who feel they cannot participate because of health concerns or other reasons to stay at home and keep safe,” said Mr Gathemia.
In her August 11, circular that spelt out the teaching guidelines, TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia directed teachers under its payroll to undertake community-based learning.
“The objective of the programme is to engage learners in productive activities with a view to acquiring basic knowledge related to the pandemic and other practical life skills,” said Dr Macharia.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the initiative will engage learners constructively. “I’m hearing a lot of hot air…If you live in a gated area that has 30 children and there is one teacher there, why are you saying you need PPEs?” he posed.
Guidelines require teachers to organise the learners as much as possible according to their classes and age to ensure the topics under discussion are relevant, suitable and appropriate.
During the learning sessions, teachers will be required to develop daily activities based programmes for engaging learners on life skills and values such as weeding, cultivating, grazing animals, storytelling, planting, debating, hygiene and other related activities.
Learning will take place in open places and in social halls.