Grade Seven students, who began their junior secondary school this week, are studying more subjects and will be graded differently from their 8-4-4 counterparts in Standard Seven.
Junior Secondary School (JSS) students study 12 core subjects and two optional, as opposed to five for Standard Seven students.
The 12 main subjects are:
Other lessons are ;
Sports and physical education, and
Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) Chief Executive Officer Charles Ong’ondo said the learners are choosing a maximum of two out of seven subjects, including visual arts, performing arts, home science, computer science, a foreign language (German, French, Arabic, Mandarin), Kenyan Sign Language and indigenous language.
“Unlike what has been stated, even in the 8-4-4, Forms One and Two students take up to 12 subjects until they get to Form Three where they can take a minimum of seven and a maximum of eight subjects,” said Prof Ong’ondo.
In most schools, headteachers have singled out teachers with degrees to teach in JSS. The teachers have been downloading materials and using both their personal and institutional digital gadgets to teach students.
“It is interesting because [the material] is child-centred, learners are more creative and responsible,” said Ms Emily Mnyanzi, a teacher at Kwashee Primary School in Mombasa.
The graduate teacher said unlike the Standard Seven pupils whom she taught for years, she’s not grading learners with marks but their abilities.
“Performance is given according to ability, we will be using ‘exceeding expectation’ and ‘below expectation’ in their assessment. We group the learners and use the digital devices to teach them then later allow each learner to demonstrate. My class has 60 learners,” she explained.
Their counterparts teaching Standard Seven pupils under the 8-4-4 system, which is being phased out, are learning five subjects including English, mathematics, science, social studies, Christian or Islamic religious education and Kiswahili.
Social studies and religious education are examined as one subject during the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams in Standard Eight. Assessment under JSS will be referred to as Kenya Junior Secondary Education Assessment (KJSEA).
Apart from this national assessment, there will be School-Based Assessments (SBA). The Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) shall provide guidelines for standardised SBA to be administered by the subject teacher at Grades Seven, Eight and Nine.
“Under the CBC [Competency-Based Curriculum] we teach through group work or using digital devices, projectors and resource persons. The difference is that most of the time in CBC, we have video lessons, subjects are more compared to 8-4-4, and it involves learners a lot,” Ms Mnyanzi added. She groups her learners and gives them activities after which they demonstrate what they have learned.
“For instance, if it’s mathematics, I give three or five assignments or questions and they go into groups then each learner comes to demonstrate,” she said.
Mr George Gitonga, the assistant secretary of the Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) in the Coast region, said learning is smooth in most private schools.
“Learning is ongoing smoothly in our schools after we recruited graduate teachers who are implementing JSS using the designs issued by KICD. In terms of foreign language, we are lucky we had started teaching French even before CBC, so we are well catered for,” he said. Prof Ong’ondo said most schools have received at least five textbooks.
“I was in Western and Nyanza regions and visited 15 schools. I was impressed to find learners in class, learning using the books we started distributing.”
“In the first two weeks, we shall have distributed all textbooks to all schools. Every learner will get one book,” the KICD boss said.
He explained that the books are printed, packed then transported to schools.
“The only challenge is that we have some learners whose schools were not approved to host JSS who are still identifying schools of their choice. But teaching is ongoing, an impressive record is that I found more than five teachers qualified to teach JSS,” he said, citing Kakamega Primary School where he found 22 teachers who have at least a first degree while Amalemba Primary School had 12. At St Peter Mumias, there are 15 graduate teachers teaching JSS.
“In Kisumu Central, there are five teachers with PhDs, 13 with masters and several with bachelor’s degrees. At Rabuor Primary School, I found a teacher who has a PhD teaching JSS. These are the people spearheading JSS as they wait for the posting of teachers recruited by the Teachers Service Commission,” he added.
Coast regional education boss Adan Roble said teaching is ongoing in all schools in the region.
He met all Mombasa headteachers from both public and private schools at the Allidina Visram High School to ensure 100 per cent transition.
“Most of the schools we visited have recorded 100 per cent transition, some schools are getting extra learners from the feeder schools. For instance, Kwale Primary has admitted an extra 50 JSS from the neighbouring feeder schools,” he said.
In Taita Taveta, the government has warned public primary schools against charging any fees for students joining JSS.
The warning has come as a relief to thousands of parents, who were being asked to pay admission fees for their children to join public institutions.
A spot check by Nation revealed that the schools charged between Sh5,000-Sh3,700.
County Director of Education Victoria Mulili said the government had given a clear directive that JSS education in public schools was free.
Meanwhile, as the Grade Seven learners continue to report to their institutions, public schools are being faced with the headache of a shortage of teachers and inadequate facilities to accommodate the students.
Lessons to take 40 minutes
According to KICD the learners will undertake 45 lessons per week, which will be taught for a 40 -minute duration each.
In the KICD guidelines English, and mathematics will have the highest number of hours with each subject having five lessons every week; totalling to 200 minutes of study time.