Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang recently reiterated the ban on remedial teaching that most heads of primary and secondary schools practice.
Dr Kipsang observed that the eight school hours the Basic Education Regulations 2015 stipulates for the curriculum delivery process in basic education institutions are enough to cover the syllabus.
In ordinary circumstances, remediation, or remedial teaching, is part and parcel of the curriculum delivery process.
In other educational jurisdictions, remedial teaching is designed to help students who fall behind in their studies or have difficulties learning a particular subject matter or subjects.
Former Permanent Secretary for Education Karega Mutahi affirmed this principle of remediation in an August 18, 2008 Circular.
“Professionally, extra coaching or tuition is given to learners who exhibit weakness in certain subjects. This constitutes remedial teaching and does not involve payment by parents,” Prof Mutahi noted.
Educational policy, curricular and standards provide for remedial tuition to ensure that no child attending school is left behind.
Learners have different abilities and learning styles. The pace of understanding what is taught in class is therefore not the same.
This difference causes difficulties in learning that are sometimes responsible for behavioural or motivational difficulties that most learners face if schools don’t attend to them in good time.
Remedial teaching can address basic skills such as reading, writing, numeracy and critical thinking.
Remedial teaching should be confined to learners/students who exhibit weaknesses that make them lag behind their classmates in the normal learning process.
Such students must be listed and the list filed with the principal and the deputy who is in charge of the curriculum in the school.
Remedial teaching supports students with learning difficulties to overcome hitches in their learning, bridge gaps in grasping content and skills, and reach their full academic potential.
In the absence of professional remedial teaching as universally envisioned, schools risk moving students from one content to the next without fully mastering the knowledge, skills, attitudes or behavioural patterns inherent in the content. Hence the learning gap that educationists and policymakers talk about.
A learning gap is a discrepancy between what a student has learned and what a student was expected to learn by a specific point in their education.
Policymakers take into account important issues about child psychology (cognitive, emotional and behavioural) when designing the school calendar.
They take into account things like the abilities of learners, the diversity in abilities, the attention span of learners, and with these and other considerations, break content into lessons for easy understanding by learners across the school calendar.
They temper rigour with fun and rest. Hence the 8am and 3.30pm school hour system in our educational system—a school hour system that is replicated in nearly all other educational systems globally.
The school hours provide breaks in learning—for rest, lunch and recreation during the day and for weekends, and school holidays.
Experience, judgment and science went into Section 84 in the Basic Education Regulations, 2015 which provides policy direction on school hours.
It is the violation of the official school timetable as stipulated in the policy that led the ministry to ban extension of the curriculum delivery outside the stipulated school hours in the 2008 Circular on Tuition and Mock Examinations.
“The extension of the curriculum delivery into break, lunch, after school, weekends and during holiday is an unacceptable way of providing education because it deprives the children the opportunity to relax and learn social skills through interaction among themselves and adults,” the circular noted.