Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha is in a dilemma on whether to extend this year’s academic calendar and postpone national exams scheduled for November or leave that to the next government, which might be delayed given the expected court petition.
The second term is scheduled to end on September 17, allowing students to break for one week and resume on September 25 for third term.
But the second term was disrupted for more than two weeks because of the general election. The schools were scheduled to break for a one week half term on August 6 to August 13.
However, Prof Magoha announced closure of schools on August 2 to allow the Independent and boundaries commission to prepare for the polls. Over 23,000 schools had been gazetted as polling and tallying centres.
Prof Magoha said extension of the term dates will be a major policy change and will require extensive engagement with stakeholders. According to the CS, the academic calendar will run as earlier scheduled.
He dispelled fears that learning has been compromised. “In terms of major policy shifts, there are so many people talking about so many things. We are not about to make major policy changes, yet there will be a new government in place.”
Prof Magoha had to postpone the reopening of schools twice from August 11 to August 15, then to August 18 last week to allow the IEBC to announce the presidential results.
Due to the closure, parents, teachers’ unions and school heads have been raising concerns about the calendar.
Kenya Secondary School Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli has since called on the ministry to engage stakeholders to see how learners will recover the two weeks.
Kenya Union of Post-Primary Teachers secretary general Akelo Misori also called for postponement of national exams and extension of the term. Parents have also called for an extension.
But the CS said the ministry and the Kenya National Examination Council are prepared to administer national exams for Grade Six, Standard Eight and Form Four learners scheduled for November.
Standard Eights will sit their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam from November 28 to December 1, while Form Fours will sit their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam on December 1–23. Those in Grade Six are to sit their final Kenya Primary School Education Assessment on November 28–30.
Prof Magoha said most schools have completed the syllabus and are currently revising, urging teachers to help the candidates.
“Make them apply the knowledge they have been taught as they revise and the exams will be a walkover; that’s the best way forward because if we have a misstep at this point, it means we will not normalise our school calendar in January.
“If there is need for anything major to be done, it is fair and just to allow the incoming government and CS to be the ones to consider that,” he said in Nairobi, while commissioning Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) classrooms ahead of junior secondary school (JSS) roll-out in January.
On JSS, the CS advised parents to work with teachers to help learners select schools near their homes to ensure safety and continuity. The ministry plans to place 1.28 million students in JSS.
Prof Magoha said most learners have reported to school after the August 9 General Election and lauded principals for accepting them back without fees, saying many parents are facing hard times. “You must not send a child home between now and the end of the year, unless the government belongs to you and you are the President. If you send any child home because of fees, we are going to act,” said the CS.
He, however, added that the principals can assess the situation and engage parents who can pay fees or raise the matter with ministry officials at Jogoo House for action to be taken. The CS further said the ministry will liaise with the Teachers Service Commission to penalise principals who impose illegal charges.
Since January last year, the academic calendar has been running unusually under a crash programme. In an effort to help learners not to repeat classes, Prof Magoha appointed a Covid 19 National Education Response Committee to advise on reopening.
The committee was also mandated to review and organise the school calendar as part of the Covid-19 post recovery strategy.
In the revised calendar, primary and secondary school learners are being engaged in a two -year packed calendar to recover the ‘lost year’ and cover the 2021 and 2022 academic years. The normal school calendar is set to resume in January next year.