Parents in mad rush for items as schools reopen

Seth Onyango @sethmanex

Parents across the country flocked to shops to buy uniform and learning materials for their children ahead of reopening of schools today for the first term this year. This comes even as the government is set to roll out a new curriculum to replace the existing 8-4-4 system.

In Nairobi, queues were witnessed in major stationery and uniform shops as parents in last-minute shopping spree rushed to get learning materials for their children. Parents who spoke to the People Daily urged the government to reduce taxes on books to lessen the burden for them.

“As you can see, these books are very expensive hence the government needs to lower the taxes so that we can get them at affordable prices,” said Shabana Ali, who was shopping for her three-year-old daughter Nadia Mohammed. Parents especially with students joining Form One are particularly happy as the government implements the free secondary education.

The move is set to help achieve 100 per cent transition for all learners from Standard Eight to Form One that has many parents excited and anxious at the same time. Mid last month, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) conducted training for teachers in readiness for implementation of the new curriculum.

The exercise was conducted countrywide and aimed at equipping primary school teachers with necessary skills to implement the Early Years Education curriculum. It focused on the competency -based curriculum; interpretation of the curriculum designs, special needs education and integration of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in teaching and learning, KICD will first implement the new school system in pre-primary and lower primary and progress gradually to subsequent levels of education. According to the institute, this will ensure a smooth transition from primary to secondary schools.

The successful pilot programme was carried out to test the feasibility and validity of the planned curriculum designs, teacher preparation and assessment models. The new system has been categorised into three phases, Early Years Education covering nursery education to Grade 3, Middle School Education covering Grade 4 to Grade 9 and Senior School covering grades 10 to 12.

Principals/Head teachers have already undergone induction training on Competency Based Curriculum in preparation. The new curriculum places emphasis on Continuous Assessment Tests (CATs) over final exams. It will be rolled out next month covering nursery, Standard One, Two and Three. In 2019, the system is expected to be rolled out in Standard Four to Six and in 2020, it will cover Standard Seven, Eight and Form One.

In 2021, the system will be extended to Form Two only and in the following year it will cover Form Three. In 2023, it will be rolled out in Form Four. According to a National Basic Education Curriculum Framework (NBECF) implementation plan developed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), the last Standard Eight candidates to sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination will tackle the exam in 2019, while the last Form Four to sit the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination will write the papers in 2022.

After its implementation starting this month, KICD will embark on retraining upper primary teachers (Grade 4 to Grade 6) on the new system’s demands and requirements. The institute will also concentrate on developing learning materials and teaching guides for G7 to G9 which is Lower Secondary.

Tutors teaching Grades seven to nine will be trained on the new system starting 2019 during which period KICD will also complete the development of learning materials and teaching guides for senior secondary covering grades 10 to 12.

Meanwhile, the government has also promised to employ 50,000 teachers in the next four years to plug the deficit in secondary schools in view of the expected trebling of enrolment owing to free education.

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