Kenya: Parents Worried By Lack of Pre-Primary One Intake Next Year

The parents of more than 1 million children hoping to join Pre-Primary One next year will have to keep their children at home for another year as the current class will still be in the same class.

The preschool segment is expected to be unusually congested after the government declared 2020 a lost academic year and ordered that all learners in basic education repeat classes.

Getting places for beginners in school is usually a herculean task for many parents, especially in urban areas where the number of applications outnumber the vacancies. Every year, about 1.3 million children join pre-school. The current class had their beginning to school life halted after only two-and- half months.

If parents get their wish to have their three- and four-year-olds enrolled in school, it will further complicate efforts to decongest schools and observe physical and social distancing to keep Covid-19 at bay.

DOUBLE INTAKE

"I cannot wait for a whole year before enrolling my daughter in school. Keeping children who should be in school at home will be a problem. There should be a double intake for preschool next year," said Ms Adeline Owuor, a parent in Nairobi.

While announcing that 2020 was a lost academic year might have been difficult for Education CS George Magoha, dealing with ensuing backlog will be even more difficult.

"The CS made the right decision. Let's respect the decision because it's for our own good. As managers of institutions, we need to figure out how prepared we will be in January," Mr Patrick Imbuga, the founder of The Msingi Academy in Kisumu told the Nation.

CRISIS IN SCHOOLS

If the Covid-19 crisis is successfully contained before January, Kenyans should anticipate a crisis in schools as they reopen due to various factors.

"This is the right time to encourage people who want to establish schools to do so. It will create more space to accommodate learners," Mr Imbuga said.

He said might take more than a year to clear the backlog.

Prof Magoha also announced that the current Form Fours will sit their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education next year. This means there will be no university admissions next year.

While some parents support the closure of schools, some have criticised the decision to make learners repeat classes.

"The CS and his team should have been more innovative. In the '70s, learning was done via correspondence schools, and exams via mailboxes. During the change from the old system to 8-4-4, the government created a transition process. Today, you can get degrees and specialised training online. So we can deliver education without being in physical classrooms. We shouldn't have a curriculum that is cast in stone," complained Mr Christopher Uvyu, a parent in Nairobi.

There are fears also that some parents will collude with teachers to promote learners to the next class so that they don't repeat.

This was widely expressed by parents whose children are learning online and feel they will have covered the syllabus by the end of the year.

As the basic education sector remains the most affected by the closure, teacher training colleges, technical vocational education and training institutions and universities will be allowed to reopen in September if they adhere to the Ministry of Health protocols to control the spread of the coronavirus.

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