The controversy surrounding the shift to junior secondary school shows no sign of abating as two teachers’ unions differ over preparations and domiciling of the new level of learning.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) insists that junior secondary school learners should be retained in primary schools, saying the plan can ride on existing infrastructure.
But the rival Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) argues that primary school teachers do not have the capacity to teach the learners and want the level pushed to high schools, as junior secondary is within the secondary school curriculum.
In addition to this, Kuppet also wants the government to include subsidising costs of private schools to put up additional classrooms.
The differing stand points emerge even as Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said that the junior secondary learners will be domiciled in high schools.
Speaking this week in Mombasa during a meeting of private schools, Magoha also revealed that only a few primary schools with adequate infrastructure will be allowed to anchor junior secondary.
But Knut Secretary General Collins Oyuu (pictured) says they fully support the junior secondary school to be retained in primary schools.
“There’s no need to build classes in secondary schools, while there is already existing infrastructure at primary school level. The focus should be on training and hiring more teachers. The Class Seven and Eight classrooms will accommodate Grade Seven and Eight. The government can plan to add extra classrooms for Grade Nine in the near future,” Oyuu said.
Explaining why the Ministry of Education had tweaked previous plans to have Junior Secondary learners hosted in secondary schools, CS Magoha said they have been forced to “walk back” due to the circumstances in the private sector.
“We are telling the private primary schools that you can create stand-alone junior schools. It’s a win-win situation,” he said at the annual Private School meeting held in Mombasa on July 5.
However, Kuppet Secretary General Akello Misori said that the move may need to be more elaborate to avoid subjecting education to a profit making venture and cut throat competition.
“Education is a public good. The Ministry of Education should provide incentives for private school developers to build capacity and ensure standards are maintained across all schools, whether private or public,” said Misori.
“The government should provide grants to junior secondary and take the first step in domiciling junior secondary learners. As a trade union, KNUT supports strengthening of public schools. We are against privatisation of education,” said Ayoo.
Further, Misori said that the Ministry should not abdicate the responsibility of providing a public good to private entities.
“If it has to be done, the government should provide guidelines on implementation, like it happens in schools in the US, where the government gives charter schools grants to accommodate pupils without discrimination. This guarantees quality across schools is similar to prevent cutthroat competition and exploitation.”
Misori hailed Kenya’s transition to CBC as a bold yet necessary step. “We have to be open to the realities of the 21st century. It is time to open our options to cater for pathways which will guarantee individuals exploits of their raw talents.
“Let’s stop wastage of talent, and guarantee every person the freedom to achieve the highest level capacity and talent,” he said.
He called on the ministry to ensure that the “noble” idea of CBC comes into fruition by implementing robust policies and strategic arrangement to accommodate the changes thereof, otherwise, what is backed by a strong philosophy will flop.