Success in the education sector will depend on critical decisions to be made on several experiments being rolled out and on input and participation of stakeholders.
Schools open this Tuesday at a time the government is rolling out several far-reaching programmes in the sector.
Among the programmes set for roll-out include implementation of the new curriculum, the opening of hybrid boarding schools, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover for secondary school students and the mass transfer of teachers.
Other factors that may affect the new term are the 100 per cent transition for students from primary to secondary schools, the new Teachers Service rules and the government plan to provide textbooks to schools.
The new curriculum has raised questions among teachers and parents concerning its implementation.
Parents are still burdened with the number of books they are supposed to buy for their children while teachers feel they are not yet prepared for the new curriculum.
A parent at Shepherds Junior School in Buruburu phase two, Nairobi, complained of the large number of books the school has asked them to buy.
The parents are required to buy 12 text books, two each for Maths, English, Kiswahili, Social Studies and Religious Studies. In addition, the parents are required to purchase four revision books.
This despite the government promising free textbooks for students under the new programme aimed at ensuring that books offered conform to the education curriculum.
Parents of students in secondary schools were yesterday complaining about the burden of purchasing new set books for their children.
“I bought set books for my son this year which they had been asked to buy but because the Ministry of Education has announced that new set books will be used, I am forced to buy the new ones,” one parent told the Nation.
A parent, Mr Joseph Waweru, said parents were confused on which books to buy because of the new curriculum.
“We want the government to be clear so that we don’t buy books that will be useless once the curriculum is implemented,” said Mr Waweru.
“The government should come up with a circular to show which books should be used and those that are no longer in use,” he added.
Teachers have also been raising concerns over the rolling out of the new curriculum expected this month.
According to the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) Director Julius Jwan, more than 170,000 teachers were to be trained before the curriculum kicks off. Some of the teachers were trained two weeks ago.
Those that have been trained are teachers handling nursery, and Class One to Three as the government embarks on implementing the competence-based curriculum.
The system, which places emphasis on continuous assessment tests (CATs) over one-off examinations, will be rolled out for nursery, Grade One, Two and Three.
Hybrid boarding schools is also another area of concern for teachers, parents and students of the selected schools.
According to the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli, public schools are worried about lack of enough capital to implement the hybrid boarding schools programme.
Though the schools have welcomed the proposal, they have asked the government to increase capitation to enable schools accommodate the day scholars.
A week ago, the Ministry of Education released the list of the 19 national schools in Nairobi that will open up day wings.
The schools are Kenya High, Starehe Boys Centre, Moi Forces Academy, Nairobi, Lenana, Pangani Girls and Moi Girls.
Other schools are Ngara Girls, Buruburu Girls, Embakasi Girls, Arya Parklands, Nembu Girls, Dagoretti High and Lang’ata Secondary, Upper Hill, St George’s Girls, State House Girls, Hospital Hill and Ofafa Jericho.
According to the ministry, the move is expected to boost capacity as a result of the free secondary education plan that is aimed at increasing Form One enrolment to above one million students.
The government has already allocated about Sh25 billion for the free secondary school education for the next six months to June.
The opening of day wings is also part of the government’s plan to have a 100 per cent transition for all learners.
The announcement by President Uhuru Kenyatta to enrol all secondary school students into the NHIF programme is also under scrutiny.
Normally, only people over 18 years qualify to register for the NHIF programme.
The mass transfer of teachers and their deputies has also become a subject of debate among stakeholders.
The National Council of Churches of Kenya yesterday called on stakeholders to support the deployment and redeployment of head teachers. General Secretary Canon Peter Karanja said the council recognises the mandate of the Teachers Service Commission to employ and deploy teachers in all public schools in the country. “The TSC, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, has a responsibility to ensure prudent, effective and equitable implementation of the education policy to safeguard the heritage of our nation,” he said.
On Saturday, parents across the country thronged most uniform shops ahead of the schools opening.
Mr Donald Kirui, a parent, said he was happy with the reduction in high school fees in comparison to last year.
“I will pay Sh40,435 per year for my son in a public boarding school,” said Mr Kirui. Last year, he paid Sh53,554.
Ms Susan Njeri said she would pay Sh3,000 for her daughter’s lunch according to the admission form.
Mr Kimani Ukumbusho, who runs a uniform shop in Elburgon, said business is low compared to last year.
“As a result of the political crisis that hit the country, we are not experiencing booming business like in other years,” said Mr Kimani.
But the proprietor of an embroidery business, located at the heart of Naivasha town, Mr Manasses Karanja, said business has peaked this month.
He said they were mostly getting business from parents and guardians whose children are headed to private schools.
“I started this business in September but it has actually peaked after the KCPE results were released,” said Mr Karanja.
The trader specialises in fixing logos on school sweaters and PE kits, with most education centres preferring to have their logo fixed on school garments.
Additional reporting by John Njoroge, Macharia Mwangi and Reitz Mureithi