Ministry kick off plan to construct 10,000 junior secondary classes

Top government officials will meet today to lay the groundwork for the construction of 10,000 classrooms to support the transition of learners from primary to junior secondary schools.

The Standard has established that Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha will chair a meeting where County Commissioners and Ministry of Education County Directors will be taken through the project expectations, even as questions emerged on how the government plans to bridge the gap of the total number of the needed classrooms.

Education stakeholders who spoke to The Standard questioned whether 10,000 classrooms would be adequate to take care of the double intake that will see some 2.5 million children join high school.

It is expected that the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) pioneer class will transition to junior secondary school in 2023 after sitting the Grade Six national examination.

During the same year, the present Standard Seven learners under the 8-4-4 education system will join Form One after sitting KCPE examinations. Official data from the Ministry of Education shows that the total number of Grade Six and Standard Eight learners expected to join secondary school will be 2,571,044.

However, available secondary school spaces for those joining the new level of education are only 1,081,900, leaving a deficit of 1,489,144.

With an average of 40 learners per class, this translates to some 27,000 additional classrooms needed for a smooth transition.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said only 10,000 classrooms would be constructed at a cost of Sh8.1 billion and asked other partners such as MPs to set aside constituency funds to top up.

National Parents Association chairperson Nicholas Maiyo said parents’ representatives should be included in the tender committee to protect the interests of the children.

The president said that to boost the local economies, the classrooms should be constructed by local contractors near the schools.

“This initiative will tap into the skilled manpower within the counties, empowering locals with enhanced economic opportunities,” said Uhuru.

Maiyo said every parent is concerned about the safety of children and the quality of work that will be done.

“We plead that the contractors be certified and have the proper experience to leave no room for backroom deals that may risk children’s lives,” said.

He said even if contractors are locally sourced, the procurement process must be followed to the letter to ensure children’s safety.

Whether Sh810,000 would be adequate to construct one classroom is also a major concern as stakeholders argue that this is below the Sh1.2 million estimate by the Ministry of Public Works. Maiyo said the cost unit factor must be looked into, saying that the availability of materials differs from county to county.

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