Junior Secondary School (JSS) headaches may persist.
Last year, as the debate over the new curriculum took centre stage, the place of junior secondary school (JSS) remained a contentious issue.
Learners will spend two years in pre-primary education, six years in primary schools, three years in junior secondary school, and three years in senior secondary school under the 2-6-3-3-3 education system.
Even after a government task force recommended that this level of education be housed in secondary schools, the role of primary schools in the transition was still mentioned.
The push to have this level of education anchored in primary schools, however, may spill over into next year, as the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) issued a new call to the government to reconsider the placement.
This was part of the advice given to KNUT top management by the union’s top decision-making organ–the National Advisory Council (NAC)–last week.
Despite the fact that the NAC cited secondary school congestion as the primary reason for advocating for junior secondary to be housed in primary schools, insiders revealed that membership is at the heart of the new push.
The Task Force on Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) released its report, proposing that the level of education be housed in secondary schools.
However, prior to the report, KNUT and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) were unable to reach an agreement.
Each union sought to protect its membership, and with the KNUT on a mission to strengthen its membership, locating junior secondary schools in primary schools would be a major catchment area for union membership.
KNUT members are primarily from primary schools, whereas KUPPET members are primarily from post-primary education institutions.
Fatuma Chege, the government’s Principal Secretary for Curriculum Reform Implementation, insists that the government will seek to maximize existing resources.
She explained that if a primary school has too much infrastructure, it will be converted into a junior secondary school.
“This level of learning will be domiciled in secondary schools. We are only trying to establish how best we can also utilise extra spaces in primary schools,” said Chege.
The PS also revealed that the task force’s recommendations are being fine-tuned for implementation.
She went on to say that, in response to the task force’s recommendations, the government conducted an audit of existing secondary school infrastructure. The audit identified a number of institutions that would require expansion and new facilities.
The biggest question is whether the government will have created enough space by 2023 when the first CBC cohort will enter junior secondary school.
To accommodate the expected double intake of students, the government plans to build 37,000 new classrooms across the country.
He went on to say that another Sh1.2 billion would be spent from the ministry’s infrastructure fund to build 6,500 classrooms in 6,371 secondary schools.
However, confusion arose regarding junior school placement as a result of conflicting communication from the Ministry.
As plans for new secondary school classrooms began to take shape, another circular was issued calling for an audit of primary school infrastructure with the goal of being used for junior secondary schools.
The circular, signed by Moses Karati on behalf of Basic Education PS, Jwan Julius, requested that County Directors of Education (CDEs) compile a list of primary schools with available spaces that could be used to anchor junior secondary learners.
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The circular was issued on November 22nd. PS Chege announced two days later that primary schools would not be hosting junior secondary students.
Instead, she revealed that the two extra classes left in primary schools as Grade Six students transitioned to junior secondary would be used to anchor nursery schools.
She went on to say that this was part of a larger plan to break down transition barriers in close collaboration with counties.