The Kenyan government is set to reduce the workload for learners in junior secondary school (JSS) by scaling down the number of core learning areas from 12 to 10
JSS Workload Reduction
Kenyan learners in junior secondary school (JSS) can expect a reduced workload in the coming academic year as the number of core learning areas has been scaled down from 12 to 10.
This decision comes after recommendations made by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER) and will see life skills combined with social studies while health education will now be taught alongside integrated science, which comprises biology, physics, and chemistry.
PWPER Report on JSS
The official announcement of these changes is expected to be made after President William Ruto receives the report from the PWPER.
The tenure of the team expired recently, and they are expected to table their report soon.
KICD Directive on JSS
However, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has already informally instructed publishers to withhold the submission for evaluation of teaching and learning materials of the affected learning areas for Grade Eight.
In the meantime, publishers are concerned about how much content will be shed off to combine the learning areas without making it too shallow or too bulky for the learners.
The KICD boss, Charles Ong’ondo, confirmed that the communication had been sent to publishers and said the matter would be firmed up after the PWPER tables its report.
The other learning areas that will remain unchanged are English, Kiswahili (or Kenyan Sign Language), mathematics, pre-technical and pre-career education, religious education, business studies, agriculture, and sports and physical education.
Information and communication technology will continue to be integrated and used as a delivery tool for all the subjects.
The optional subjects include visual arts, performing arts, home science, computer science, foreign languages (German, French, Mandarin, and Arabic), Kenyan Sign Language, and indigenous languages.
The changes will come as a relief to the learners currently in Grade Seven as they are already studying the 12 core subjects.
JSS shortage of Teachers
However, implementation of JSS has not been smooth sailing, with public schools most affected by the shortage of teachers.
Despite the government hiring 30,000 new teachers in February, schools are still struggling with a lack of teachers.
In addition to the teacher shortage, the delivery of textbooks has also been delayed, which has caused further delays in learning.
Public schools also lack the infrastructure and equipment to teach new subject areas.
KICD is aware of these challenges and is making efforts to ensure the smooth implementation of the new changes.
The curriculum designs for Grade Nine are ready, and KICD will call for the submission of materials for evaluation as early as August.
This is intended to get the books in schools early before the learners report.
Grade Nine is the last class in JSS before learners sit their exit exams ahead of the transition to senior secondary school where they will choose their preferred pathways.
Learners will choose from three pathways, including arts and sports science, social sciences, and Stem (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
In conclusion, the reduction of the number of core learning areas in JSS is expected to reduce the workload for learners and create more focus on key subject areas.
However, the challenges of implementing these changes cannot be ignored, and the KICD must work closely with publishers, teachers, and other stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition