JSS is a good idea if everyone comes on board

Teachers learn how to make liquid soap before teaching CBC learners. The curriculum is good but it needs the support of all stakeholders to succeed.

Junior Secondary School (JSS) is the epitome of elegance in a new education system in Kenya. Such a curriculum process, just like anything novel, has to experience bottlenecks and incessant reviews from time to time.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) assessed all public and private schools and gave out certain specifications that all Boards of Management (BoM) and parents were supposed to abide by before they were allowed to host the JSS. This included enrollment, availability of certain facilities, security and even the size of land. Each hosting school was supposed to have at least two extra classrooms, sanitation and proper food handling systems.

Because of STEM subjects, President Ruto hinted at converting extra classrooms into Science laboratories. He thus said that preference would be given to primary schools that share land with secondary schools and could go ahead to even share other resources especially the science laboratories.

Through its accurate statistics, the MoE and TSC approved 23,820 stations, of which 5,125 were private schools while 18,695 were public; against the backdrop of over 33,000 stations.

Both the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the MoE have played an active role in implementing the new curriculum by hiring teachers and providing adequate instructional materials.

Consequently, the government went ahead and hired over 66,000 teachers. Simple Mathematics under the plan meant each of the 18,000 schools was to get at least three teachers and four for the larger schools.

This was certainly a well-informed plan that would make each of the teachers have a workload of 28 lessons. Yet some schools which could not meet the set criteria demanded that they be given their own JSS. This scuttled the government’s efforts to offer adequate teachers to every school.

According to our legislators, JSS should be available in all public schools. Conversely, there are certain schools with very low enrollments and sound human resource but on very small pieces of land.

The retooling exercise which sharpened teachers’ competencies was a very vital step. This enabled teachers to reach out to even the most unfamiliar concepts.

Common sense should tell the government that any future form of employment should be demand-driven according to the understaffed subjects. Most of the hired teachers are arts oriented.

On the other hand, assigning the task of teaching critical technical or scientific concepts to a teacher who specializes in humanities is just wrong because such teachers are unlikely to measure up to the expected standards.

As the year began, the JSS teachers appeared to be uncomfortable and even threatened to go on strike. What remains unclear is whether or not their demands were met.

The Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) is not just Kenyan but African and also global. All countries are peering into the education future with hope, which can only come through upgrading and refreshing the education system.

Countries like Rwanda, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Ghana are among others that have embraced the CBC.

However, the system has its own challenges like inadequate infrastructure, extremely large classrooms, standard assessment model, lack of adequate knowledge, among others. The system may also not favour learners who are differently abled because of inadequate resources and diverse needs of disabilities.

Nevertheless, if only we can embrace it, we shall experience tremendous transformation of our literacy levels from the current 82 per cent to a higher limit. The change will have a significant effect on all sectors of the economy.

By Hillary Muhalya

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Education News - Newspaper Vol 281