Schools open on Tuesday in what will be a defining year in the education sector as the government rolls out several new programmes aimed at streamlining education system in the country.
The several experiments lined up by the Ministry have received criticism from various education stakeholders, but their success or failure are to be determined once all measures have been put in place.
Key determinants in the implementation of the various programs are the government’s readiness in availing funds and support from the education sector.
The new curriculum, the opening of day wings in selected boarding schools, the mass transfer of school heads and other teachers, and the rolling out of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) policy for secondary school students are among initiatives that the Ministry will be grappling to implement.
The provision of free text books for form one students by the government and also the 100 percent transition are also among the experiments that the ministry will be testing.
The opening of schools and the implementation of the programmes comes in the wake of a two-and -half months vacation - the longest ever in the country.
The third term was affected by a prolonged electioneering that culminated in repeat presidential elections on October last year.
Parents and guardians, who spoke to the Nation, welcomed the re-opening of schools.
“The children have been on a very long holiday and they need to go back to school as soon as possible,” said Ms Susan Macharia, a parent.
School heads and their deputies who have been transferred from their old stations started reporting to their new stations on Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s re-opening.
This is despite the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) having opposed the transfer of teachers terming the move as ill-advised and against the international standards of teaching practices.
Speaking to the Nation, Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion insisted that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) cannot destabilise teachers by transferring them to other counties away from their home in the name of enhancing national cohesion.
“You cannot move teachers to cure wounds that have been caused by politicians,” he said.
Mr Sossion said mass transfer of teachers must be guided by international standards that encourages teachers to work near their homes, as they are able to mobilise the community to pursue education than a teacher from a different community.
According to TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia, head teachers and deputies who have overstayed in their station for more than nine years are the ones who have been transfer letters. Newly employed teachers are also being posted away from their home counties.
The move, according to TSC is made to enhance national cohesion and bring unity among communities.
About 557 school principals and their deputies have been transferred to new stations.
Two cases are already pending in court and Knut has been directing the teachers to ignore the transfers.
However, the Kenya Primary school Head Teachers Association ( Kepsha) chairman Shem Ndolo has supported the transfers, and said teachers should not defy government’s directives.
Both the Knut and Kuppet have threatened to call for a countrywide strike over the mass transfers if they are not revoked.
On the provision of free text books, the Ministry is planning to give books approved by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to all students joining Form One this year.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, says the textbooks have been procured in conjunction with publishers.
The ministry is expected to flag off the distribution of the books on Thursday.
They bear a special mark on the front cover indicating they are not for sale.
On the rolling out of the NHIF cards for secondary school students, NHIF board member Akelo Misori on Saturday said fund was ready to roll out the program.
The 19 national schools selected by the ministry for the rolling out of the day wing are also preparing to take in students for the first time in the education sector.
However the move has been criticized by a section of parents who feel it might lead to indiscipline in schools as teachers might not be able to control the day scholars.