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Diploma course for primary teachers under new school system

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By NATION TEAM
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The current primary teacher education programme (P1) is set to be dropped and replaced with a diploma course starting in the new year in radical measures to fast track the implementation of the new curriculum.

According to the Curriculum Policy document signed off by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed on Friday, the replacement of the P1 teachers is part of a government initiative to produce high quality staff capable of implementing the new system, known in education circles as the Competence Based Curriculum (CBS).

The TSC will be in charge of mounting a robust teacher training programme, an area that has been cited as weak and which prompted an earlier feeling that the CBC was not yet ripe for implementation.

About Sh1 billion has already been spent on teacher training, with the government expressing confidence that the 170,000 teachers so far trained can navigate the 2019 CBC roll-out as other staff undergo training for the necessary skills set.

TSC secretary Nancy Macharia will also institute an effective teacher deployment, management and development programme to meet the expectations of the reform in regular, special needs schools and tertiary institutions.

From Thursday when the new term begins, learners from PP1, PP2 and Grades 1-3 will be put on the less examination-oriented CBC in all public and private primary schools.

The latest development comes as four education agencies bear sustained government pressure to deliver the new curriculum

The four, TSC, Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec), Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD) and the Ministry of Education’s Quality Assurance and Standards department, have been named as key to making or breaking the new curriculum.

The CBC, set to replace the much-criticised 33-year-old 8-4-4, is turning out to be one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pet projects.

Ms Mohamed was yesterday said to be mulling over a strategy to successfully roll out the new school system amid concerns that key policy and legal instruments to support the CBC are not in place.

On Thursday, she sent out a sessional paper to anchor the curriculum to Parliament and thereafter silently dispatched the Curriculum Policy document to the KICD late on Friday.

President Kenyatta on Friday evening added impetus to the implementation process during a televised interview from Mombasa when he supported Ms Mohamed’s latest announcement that the programme will be implemented from January.

He said the curriculum will be rolled out on a phased approach from the early years, urging Kenyans not to be worried about any hitches as examinations under the system were “far away”.

“We want to start from class one to class four and progress slowly, maturely, learn from our mistakes and continue improving. The first exams will be years to come,” the President said.

Whereas the Education minister’s colleagues are away on Christmas vacation, the Sunday Nation has learnt that Ms Mohamed is under so much pressure to ensure things go smoothly that she has been working through the holidays to put final touches to the implementation plan.

This includes assigning fresh duties to officials and agencies in the ministry, which will culminate in what her handlers said was a countrywide monitoring exercise in all the counties to ensure the system roll-out goes on smoothly.

On its part, the KICD — besides developing the curriculum itself — has been tasked to vet all materials from publishers.

There have been fears that the institute had not developed the materials but chairperson Sarah Ruto on Friday discounted the claims, stating that all necessary materials had been vetted and approved.

“We are ready and prepared to roll out the system,” Dr Ruto said yesterday.

The Department of Quality Assurance and Standards, headed by Pius Mutisya, is expected to quickly develop the benchmarks for the curriculum reform process for all levels of education.

“Ensure maintenance of standards, quality and relevance for curriculum reform and implementation,” says the 35-page curriculum policy.

Further, the department is expected to undertake an audit of schools to map facilities in former technical schools in order to establish talent and technical institutions in every region.

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The policy calls for prudent mechanisms to monitor and supervise school infrastructure programmes and curriculum delivery methods.

The ministry will, according to the policy, work closely with National Education Boards and County Education Boards to influence curriculum reform and implementation at national and county levels respectively to steer the process.

Knec secretary Mercy Karogo is expected to set up functional units to coordinate competency-based assessment and build bridges between government organisations in charge of curriculum development, implementation and assessment.

The council has promised to develop a rubric for assessment, which will be ready by March 2019.

But Knut has opposed the new curriculum, saying the system was ‘hurried’ and that teachers have not been trained to teach it. The union has also called a nationwide strike to protest at the transfer of its members by the Teachers Service Commission.

“The infrastructure and human capital requirements of the new curriculum are mammoth. As we speak, schools have not even received books that are necessary for teaching the new curriculum,” said Mr Sossion.

The Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) has said its members are working overtime to supply the books to schools.

The 8-4-4- system has been widely criticised for being heavily loaded in terms of content and being too examination oriented, putting undue pressure on learners.

The CBC places emphasis on Continuous Assessment Tests (CATs) over one-off examinations.

“It (CBC) will ensure that the skills taught in education institutions match the requirements of the industry and will also emphasise on national values, integration of science and innovation and adoption of ICT technologies,” says the document.

“From the primary school cycle to higher levels, CBC is intended to offer learners equal opportunities to advance to the highest level of learning either through the academic or TVET channels.”

The new structure also provides opportunities for entry and re-entry into either pathways.

An additional feature of the proposed structure is that the education and training system is structured into basic and higher education and training.

Under the new Competence Based Curriculum system, basic education will be organised into three levels: Early Years Education (EYE), Middle School and Senior School.

The EYE includes Pre-primary and Lower Primary. Pre-primary education is for 2 years (Pre-primary 1 and Pre-primary 2 and will be for children aged between 4 and 5 years).

The learners from Pre-primary 2 will join Lower Primary in Grade 1 at about 6 years of age and spend 3 years in this part of Early Years Education before joining middle school.

On the other hand, Middle School Education will comprise three years of Upper Primary and three years of Lower Secondary education.

In Upper Primary, learners will be exposed to a broad-based curriculum and will be given an opportunity for exploration and experimentation.

Lower secondary will expose the learners to a broad-based curriculum to enable them to explore their own abilities, personality and potential, as a basis for choosing subjects according to career paths of interest at the senior school.

Senior School comprises three years of education targeted at learners in the age bracket of 15 to 17 years and lays the foundation for further education and training at the tertiary level and the world of work.

It will mark the end of Basic Education as defined in the Education Act, 2013. Tertiary and University education will last for a minimum of 3 years.

In the long term, basic education and training is proposed to be 14 years, comprising of pre-primary (2 years), primary (6 years), secondary education (6 years), and University (3 years).

Under this, higher education will consist of undergraduate and postgraduate (masters and doctoral) programmes, as well as TVET, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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