Millions of children face a pre-primary school admission crisis next year after the Education ministry scrapped the schooling calendar for this year, citing uncertainty about rising cases of coronavirus.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said Tuesday schooling will resume in January 2021 when the Covid-19 infections are expected to have stabilised and schools reached a level of preparedness.
“All learners in Grade 1 to 4, Standard 5 to 7 and Form 1 to 3 in 2020, will remain in their current classes in 2021,” Prof Magoha told journalists at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Education (KICD) headquarters in Nairobi.
The decision means that children who shall have attained the school-going age of four years in January 2021 as required under the Basic Education Curriculum Framework (BECF) may not get admission slots due to double intake.
According the 2019 population census report released last December, there were 2.5 million children aged between three and four years — an indication of the large number of children who join pre-primary school annually.
Kenya has about 46,530 pre-primary schools, mostly owned by private investors who are not expected to make additional investments to meet the one-off spike in demand.
Analysts reckon that Kenya will live longer with the problem as the high number of pupils in next year’s baby class progress to upper levels.
Most schools across the country are already overstretched in terms of facilities and teaching staff following the sharp enrolment increase with the introduction of free primary education and affordable day secondary schools.
By delaying transition to higher classes, many institutions might not cope with the demands of increased pupil numbers. The changes to the school calendar by the government also mean that the rollout of the competency-based curriculum (CBC) to Grade Five will delay by a year after.
The rollout of the CBC to Grade Five was scheduled to start in January when pupils currently in Grade Four were to transition to the next class.
The ministry shelved plans for phased reopening of schools starting September after parents expressed reservations following a rising Covid-19 infection curve towards the date.
Kenya had by yesterday confirmed 8,250 cases of the coronavirus and 167 deaths, as infections continue to climb.
Prof Magoha announced that all basic learning institutions will re-open in January next year when the virus curve is expected to have flattened.
National examinations will not be administered this year as the Covid-19 pandemic has rendered the school calendar lost.
The 2020 Standard 8 and Form 4 pupils will now sit their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) respectively later in 2021.
Prof Magoha further announced that technical and vocational education and training (Tvet) institutions as well as colleges will re-open in September but only with strict adherence to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines for containing the virus.
“Universities will be allowed to re-open if they meet all the requirements set by ministry of Health (MoH), and they must be inspected. Members of staff must agree on how they will do a phased reopening,” he said, adding institutions that flout the rules risk closure.
He added that face-to-face learning in universities will take place on a case by case basis and in line with compliance with Covid-19 protocols.
“Universities should continue holding virtual learning and graduations for students who have successfully completed their programmes and met graduation requirements set by their respective senates,” he said.
“They should consider phased re-opening to achieve physical and social distancing, especially in halls of residence, lecture rooms and dining halls.”
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