Kenya: Schools Re-Open Amid Controversy Over New Curriculum

Kisumu Girls High School students celebrate after receiving textbooks from the national government (file photo).
2 January 2018

Kenya — Schools re-opened on Tuesday after a two-month break during which national examinations were administered to pupils and students in primary and secondary schools respectively.

Over one million pupils who sat their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in November will be heading to various secondary schools clustered into national, extra-county, county and sub-county across the country.

According to the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC), 9,846 pupils out of the 1,003,556 candidates who sat for KCPE in 28,566 examination centers nationwide scored over 400 marks out of 500, the top candidate scoring 455 marks.

The KCSE examination will be remembered as one that recorded zero cancelation of results even as KNEC reported a decline of candidates scoring less than 100 marks, by 4,000.

The schools are reopening at a time when the Ministry of Education Science and Technology is rolling out a new education curriculum which continues to attract mixed reactions even as some parents and guardians raise concern over the unavailability of textbooks and other resource books in line the new module.

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi has, however, time and again sought to assure parents of a seamless rollout with the government announcing plans to deploy the new textbooks to all public schools by January 3.

In a number of surgical reforms, Matiangi also announced that the acquisition of textbooks will be centralized in what the education ministry says was a move to save on taxpayers' monies being embezzled through inflated prices.

Under the centralized procurement system, the books will, for instance, cost an average of Sh 194 as opposed to an average of Sh 790 per book when schools individually procured their own books.

Each student joining Form One will be issued with six textbooks -Mathematics, English, Kiswahili, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics.

"The government will take over procurement of books for public schools. We cannot be losing billions of shillings to corruption networks," Matiangi announced in early December.

The Teacher Service Commission (TSC) also plans to start hiring at least 12,000 teachers annually to increase the teacher-student ratio that has left a number of schools understaffed.

In a bid to improve the quality of education in public schools, TSC had issued transfer letters to scores of head teachers in national and extra-county schools amid resistance from some quarters including the Kenya National Teachers Union.

It has however, since emerged that most teachers affected by the transfers have complied with TSC directives and have taken charge of their new schools ahead of the reopening.

Over a dozen national schools are expected to open up day streams in line with the government's ambition to ensure 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary schools.

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