It took the intervention of top national leadership to put the implementation of the new education curriculum back on course, the Nation has learnt.
Pressure from high office and the concerted efforts of education stakeholders compelled Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed to change her tune from earlier in the week and announce that the roll-out will start in 2020, extending the launch date by a year.
The same pressure forced the minister to convene a series of meetings on Friday and Saturday to seek a safe path out of the debacle she had created.
On Saturday, Ms Mohamed met the National Steering Committee on Curriculum Review — the body in charge of advising and guiding the implementation of the proposed curriculum — and the team agreed that even though the programme would not be shelved completely, it had to be delayed by a year.
Speaking to the press after the meeting at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), the CS announced that the ministry and the steering committee had settled on 2020 to go full throttle on the new curriculum. The decision was based on the findings of independent evaluators, who had identified several weaknesses in the programme, including lack of funding, poor school infrastructure, and haphazard training of teachers.
The CS read a statement, but declined to take any questions from journalists, and left immediately.
Ms Mohamed threw the country into a panic when she told a Senate committee last week that the new curriculum will be put on hold for a while.
She argued that there had not been adequate preparations to allow its implementation. Effectively, therefore, the country was to continue with the 8-4-4 system for a while.
This sparked outrage from stakeholders, who argued that it was a major let-down to the country since heavy investments had been made in piloting the curriculum in Pre-primary to Grade Three levels.
Backtracking on the new curriculum also meant that those learners would be forced to revert to 8-4-4, and there were concerns whether they would be able to make the mental and skills shift as quickly as required.
Several things had to happen fast to avert a looming disaster in the education sector.
Sources within government told the Nation that Ms Mohamed’s announcement putting off the new curriculum had caused friction within the Cabinet.
Reforming the education sector was one of President Kenyatta’s campaign agenda and stalling the process, for whatever reason, meant back-pedalling on the pledge to Kenyans.
Since taking over the ministry early in the year, Ms Mohamed has only met the National Steering Committee on Curriculum Reforms once. The meeting at the weekend was the second, but this was occasioned by the crisis that had engulfed the education sector following her pronouncement on Tuesday.
Two weeks ago Ms Mohamed declined to attend the Nation Leadership Forum at the University of Nairobi that focused on the new curriculum, even after confirming that she would be present.
Instead, the Cabinet Secretary sent the Principal Secretary, Dr Belio Kipsang, and KICD director Julius Jwan
The two officials confirmed that the government was ready to roll out the curriculum next year.
The wrangling over the new syllabus, however, goes beyond the boardrooms and policy documents to the vested interests of players in the multi-billion-shilling industry.
Investigations by the Nation indicate that some influential people in government have not been convinced that the country should change from 8-4-4 to the proposed 2-6-3-3 system.
And, to complicate the arithmetic, the Education ministry and its various specialised agencies are not pulling in the same direction, their animosity fuelled by various external political pressures.
Interviews with multiple sources show that there is divergence of view in government over the curriculum. And even among those paid to implement it, there is a push-and-pull regarding control of the process.
Also, no budget has been allocated for the review process by the government, and so most of the activities surrounding the roll-out, such as teacher training or conferences, are funded on an ad hoc basis by external donors, among them Unicef.
Units within the Education ministry have been haggling in boardrooms over who ought to champion the curriculum reform process, and in particular take charge of specific components such as teacher training or development of assessment criteria and materials.
KICD is the lead agency spearheading the reform agenda. However, other agencies such as the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec), have been uneasy with that arrangement. They view it as encroachment on their territories, especially in regard to teacher training (TSC) and assessments formulation (Knec).
It is because of this wrangling that the piloting of the curriculum has been handled badly.
During the steering committee meeting, an evaluation report indicated several weaknesses observed during the piloting period, including lack of financing, poor coordination by the various government agencies, insufficient school infrastructure, poor preparation of teachers, and overcrowding in classrooms, all of which undermined the learner-centred teaching espoused by the new curriculum.
Arising from this, the national steering committee resolved that the piloting continues until everything is in order, hopefully by the end of next year.
Consequently, Ms Mohamed announced that the ministry will set up a secretariat (National Educational Reform Secretariat) to manage the reforms, focusing on implementation, supervision and evaluation of the new curriculum.
The ministry will also put a request for Sh365 billion to implement the curriculum in the first four years, from pre-primary up to Grade Four.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The 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.
“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.
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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.
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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.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
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.
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