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Plan for secondary education now to avert choking in 2026

Wednesday February 26 2020

Education

Form One students at Muthuaini Girls High School in Nyeri on January 22, 2020. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BENJAMIN SOGOMO
By BENJAMIN SOGOMO
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I attended the 2006 Royal Agricultural Show in Birmingham, the United Kingdom. There were several symposia on subjects related to agriculture running concurrently.

In the climate change one that I attended, a group of scientists from various government departments presented a paper on the projected state of agriculture in the UK by 2070 in relation to climate change.

Advice to farmers included preparing to plant tea in the south since the country was getting warm enough for it. Secondly, Africa will be too hot for locusts and the insects will migrate to the southern rim of Europe and become a menace to farmers.

The British experts were preparing farmers for what would happen 64 years later. It is not asking for too much from the NEB to expend their expertise and advise education stakeholders on what will obtain in the sector from 2026 onwards, a short six years away.

Likewise, planning for senior secondary education, which will commence in 2026 under the competency-based curriculum (CBC), is important. It is at this level that students choose career paths that will influence their professions and occupations.

The National Education Board is mandated “to advise the Cabinet Secretary, the Ministry of Education and related departments on policy matters in respect to ensuring that all barriers to the right to quality education are removed and that the national and county governments facilitate the realisation of the right to education by all Kenyans” as contained in the Basic Education Act 2012.

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Since the advent of the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF), members of the National Assembly, in consultation with the voters, have set up numerous day schools to increase access to secondary education.

This has largely been successful quantitatively. But the schools hardly have facilities besides classrooms and equipment, such as textbooks and lack laboratories and workshops.

One expects students from such schools to find it difficult to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects in senior secondary.

However, CBC is about individual talents and choices. What would happen to the few students who want to pursue Stem in these schools?

Furthermore, there could be many students in these schools that are talented in performing arts. The boards of these schools need, as early as now, to be informed whether the government will provide funding and facilities and teachers for these students to enhance their talents through these subjects.

On the flipside, there are well-established schools with labs, workshops and even theatre halls. They admit as many as six to 10 streams annually. Their boards need to be guided early on the options available to them. Would they have the power to declare their institutions as Stem schools at senior secondary and subject all the students to the courses?

This would be akin to the period of the advanced level secondary education, when certain schools were known to be science “A” level schools. Do the boards have the power to have the three optional subject streams in the same school to cater for the choices of the students? If so, the boards need to be informed now due to the logistical challenges the decisions portend.

In 2026 and 2027, the same schools will still have the last cohorts of 8-4-4 students learning side by side with their CBC peers. Their requirements have to be taken care of as well.

Finally, it may be wise to create a transfer window between junior and senior secondary, such that a student can cross over to another school for the convenience of pursuing subjects of their choice where facilities are available?

Decisions of this kind need to be made early and communicated to schools so that the boards can prepare strategic plans from an informed position.

Mr Sogomo is a former Secretary of TSC. [email protected]

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