By Benjamin Muindi firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Thursday, March 29 2012 at 22:00
Posted Thursday, March 29 2012 at 22:00
- Education Conference wants selected ideas from the 2-6-6-3 system proposed by an education task force used to improve 8-4-4
An independent agency will be formed to implement education reforms if recommendations of a conference that ended on Thursday are adopted.
Although participants at the National Education Conference did not propose the name of the agency, they were agreed that it was necessary to ensure the 8-4-4 system was reformed adequately rather than being scrapped altogether.
The idea is that selected proposals from the 2-6-6-3 system, proposed by an education task force led by former Moi University vice chancellor Douglas Odhiambo should be worked into the 8-4-4 to make it better.
The recommended agency will oversee the reform transition to avoid delay or manipulation of the expected policies, educational officials, teachers, parents, investors and lobby groups, among others, said.
“The pitfalls of the 8-4-4 system started with the manner in which the reforms were done in an hurried manner, and that is why we want the current reforms to be undertaken gradually,” Prof Douglas Odhiambo said.
Prof Odhiambo has been chairing the taskforce whose report was at the centre of debate at the conference that called for the replacing of the 8-4-4 system with the 2-6-6-3, starting 2014.
In the new order, learners will spend two years in pre-primary, six years of primary (three in lower and three others in upper) then proceed to spend six years in secondary (three in junior and the rest in senior).
On Thursday it was resolved that views supporting or rejecting the proposed system will be forwarded to the Ministry of Education to sieve them before preparing a Cabinet paper and a subsequent Bill to effect the changes.
“At this point, we cannot say, we have confirmed or rejected the proposed structure since this is only the beginning of a longer process that will end up in Parliament for debate,” Prof Odhiambo said.
However, most of the attendants at the conference that kicked off on Tuesday, including teachers, have been opposed to the proposed new order and recommended that emerging trends be captured in the existing system.
Following such developments, coupled with the fact that a new government was to come in place next year, it was suggested that the independent body be charged with the reform process.
“Most of these reforms will be carried out by a government other than the other that bore the idea in the first place,” Education advisor at the Prime Minister’s office Chris Khaemba said.
Calls for the retention of the current 8-4-4 system on grounds of cost were however dropped, as Prof Odhiambo explained that actually implementing the Constitutional provisions in this system was more expensive.
“What the country needs to appreciate is the fact that education is an investment in the people, and looking at the cost should not be a factor to dismiss the proposed 2-6-6-3.”
Teachers had argued that a fraction of the billions spent in transiting to the new system could be used in equipping schools and hiring more teachers, a fact that Prof Odhiambo said was missing the bigger picture.
Currently, his report argues that “there is a widespread belief that the current structure is too rigid in that it lacks little choice within a highly academic subject choice.”
The 8-4-4, he said, keeps children in the primary schools for too long, limits subject area and vocational and technical training choice for most Kenyan children.
The new system provides opportunity for early identification and nurturing of talents in individual learners, as well as creating career paths for learners depending on their abilities.
The resultant product of the current 8-4-4 system, the conference heard, is a learner who is disconnected in the world of work, because he was offered lesser training and vocational opportunities.
This, he said, will also serve to address the misgivings or complaints from the universities that they are receiving immature students from secondary schools.
But Education PS James ole Kiyiapi said: “There is no single system of education across the world that can serve all generations at all the time.”
He stressed the need for society to change its mindset and embrace the proposed 2-6-6-3 system.
“Let us all face this issue with an open mind to embrace new ideas in a changing society. We cannot afford as a country to be stuck in time,” he said.
“However, we will receive the conference proceedings; both counter arguments and proposals as the taskforce was only giving recommendations that can be accepted or rejected,” Prof Kiyiapi added.
The views of this conference will form the basis of drafting a Sessional Paper and Strategy for implementing the a new system of education.
The changes mean preparing a new curriculum and publishing new textbooks, a factor that Kenya Institute of Education’s Jackline Onyango said could be a tall order.
“At a minimum it would take at least two to three years to develop a new curriculum as well as train teachers on how to go about implementing the system,” Ms Onyango told the delegates.
For the transition, the government would require Sh340 billion in the 2012/13 financial year to provide construction of classrooms, workshops and buying new textbooks as well as hiring new teachers.
Cumulatively, the government will need Sh1.4 trillion between 2012-2015 to implement the new education system.
Teachers will also need to be re-trained on how to deliver lessons under the new system as well as creation of new classes in secondary schools to cater for the additional two cohorts.
The new school calendar was not unanimously agreed upon as Prof Odhiambo said it was to conform to the financial year that runs from July 1 to June 30.
“The main reason we altered the school calendar was because the schools complained that they never received free education money in time because of the clash in the financial calendar of the government,” he said.
“It is only a coincidence that schools in other parts of the world go for their long summer holidays at a time similar to the one proposed in the new calendar,” he added, making a case for the proposal to stay.
Universities, following the old British system, have traditionally admitted new students in September and closed for long vacation between May and August.
“The need to spend longer time at secondary school level is to allow learners more quality time to develop skills and competencies required for future education and right placements,” educationist Andiwo Obondoh told the conference.
Separately the Cotu asked the government to heed the divergent views on the proposed education system.
“The government should be cautious on any move aimed at replacing the current 8-4-4 system, and should pay closer attention to views expressed by teachers,” Cotu boss Francis Atwoli said in a statement to newsrooms.