Schools reopen for third term on Monday with a packed calendar that includes the national examinations and the final stages in the piloting of the new curriculum ahead of its rollout next year.
The school calendar will run up to October 29 to allow Standard Eight and Form Four students to sit the national examination in a two-month marathon term with no non-academic activities or mid-term break.
There will also be no prayer sessions in schools this term in a move implemented last year to reduce unnecessary contact between candidates and outsiders during the examination period.
The tough rules were introduced by the government to curb cheating in national examinations which had become rampant.
Banks, transport sector and bookshops have recorded good businesses throughout the week as parents prepared for the reopening in a term set to start in the middle of the hearing of a presidential election petition that started in the Supreme Court on Saturday.
A number of universities, that were also set to re-open on Monday – among them Technical University of Kenya and Rongo University, have also postponed their reporting date following a directive by the Education ministry that the new date should be moved to September 4. The delay could be linked to the ongoing court case that will be decided on September 1.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, while addressing principals of Catholic Church-sponsored schools on Thursday at Catholic University, Nairobi, wished the students a successful term. “I wish all students safe travel back to their schools,” said President Kenyatta who also asked school heads to ensure a secure learning environment.
Kenya Secondary School Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli said teachers were ready to receive the students after a 24-day break.
“We are ready since we have to prepare our students for the examinations,” said Mr Indimuli who also praised the government for releasing the balance of last term’s funds to support education.
“We can now pay our suppliers but it’s our prayer that this term’s capitation be released on time as we need to prepare candidates for practical examinations,” he added.
Last term, despite hard economic times, the government only gave about 12 per cent of the term’s budget to schools making it hard for the institutions to manage their affairs.
Kenya Primary School Heads Association national chairman Shem Ndolo also urged the government to release funds on time.
National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo asked the government to ensure children are safe in school despite the political tension following the General Election.
“Our children are going back to school and we want assurance they will be safe,” he said.
The government allocates Sh32 billion for subsidised secondary school education and Sh14 billion for free primary education annually.
The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development will also be putting the final touches to the proposed learning system ahead of its piloting in nursery to Class Three next year.
On Thursday, President Kenyatta also announced that all of this year’s Standard Eight candidates will join Form One next year, adding that already plans for this are underway. He expressed concerns about low learning outcome in schools despite heavy investment, saying those tasked with the responsibility must put in more efforts.
“The signing of the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) should translate to full delivery of enhanced learning outcomes. Strong quality assurance mechanisms should be in place to ensure that teachers are in class and children are learning. We cannot have a teacher spending most of the time looking after his matatu business and kiosk instead of teaching,” said the President.
According to Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, plans to reform the education sector are on course, including the examination system, curriculum and addressing spiritual needs of children.
“The programme of introducing chaplaincy in schools is on course. We are also on schedule on plans that you gave us and we will adhere to them,” he said adding that this year’s national examination candidates will be provided with a unique personal identifier number.
A total of 1,003,556 candidates are registered for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination while 615,773 are set to sit the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination.
There will be 28,566 examination centres for the KCPE and 9,350 for KCSE candidates.
A total of 6,037 KCPE and 7,001 KCSE private candidates also registered this year.
KCPE examination will last for three days starting from October 1 to November 2 while KCSE will start on November 4.