Knut Now Wants Primary Schools To Host Junior Secondary
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A top organ of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has called for the domiciling of junior secondary in primary schools instead of secondary schools in what might shape up as a battle for members in the implementation of the competency-based curriculum (CBC).
The National Advisory Council (NAC) has instructed national officials of the union to present the recommendation to the Ministry of Education, saying, secondary schools are overwhelmed by infrastructural and discipline challenges. They blamed the crisis on the 100 per cent transition policy from primary to secondary schools.
“Ours is just a recommendation to the ministry based on the capacity of secondary schools to accommodate junior secondary in terms of infrastructure and escalating indiscipline in secondary schools. The age of learners in Grade Seven and Eight is also a challenge at junior secondary,” a senior official told Nation after the NAC meeting on Saturday at the Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi.
However, the proposal contradicts the report of the Task Force on Enhancing Access, Relevance, Transition, Equity and Quality for Effective Curriculum Reforms Implementation.
The panel recommended that junior secondary be domiciled in secondary schools as primary schools lack facilities like laboratories and equipment for teaching science and technology subjects. It also observed that primary school teachers lack the skills to teach at secondary school level.
However, when the CBC is fully implemented, primary schools will lose two classes as learners will exit at Grade Six instead of Standard Eight.
It is also expected that primary school teachers, who form the bulk of the teaching force and the core constituency of Knut, will reduce greatly as the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) focuses more on staffing secondary schools.
Major structural changes
Knut is rebuilding after seeing its membership shrink in two years from 187,000-strong to a paltry 15,000. In July, the new Knut leadership signed a new recognition agreement with the TSC in which the union will only draw membership from primary school teachers.
It further disqualifies the over 23,000 headteachers from union membership. The official argued that primary schools already have enough classrooms and teachers trained up to degree level to teach the junior secondary learners.
Introduction of two levels of secondary school is among the major structural changes introduced by CBC. Learners will transition at the end of Grade Six and move to three years of senior secondary at Grade Ten.
The government has allocated Sh8 billion for construction of 10,000 extra classrooms in secondary schools. The first phase is underway and will see 6,500 new classrooms constructed in 6,371 schools. The government is also encouraging private schools to invest in junior secondary to create more space for increasing number of learners.
The congestion in secondary schools has been occasioned by inadequate infrastructure where learners from 23,000 public and 11,000 private primary schools exit every year to be admitted to 10,359 public and 1,600 private secondary schools. A wave of indiscipline has rocked secondary schools since they opened for second term in October, resulting in destruction of property worth millions of shillings.
During the Knut meeting, the delegates also passed a proposal to raise the retirement age of elected national officials and branch secretaries from 60 to 65 years in a move seen as seeking to extend the tenure of the officials many of whom have less than two years to retire.
The delegates approved the review of the Knut constitution saying that some of its sections have become obsolete.
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