School Calendar is too Packed, Experts Issue Warning; Latest Education News
Following the release of the new school calendar by the CS Education Professor George Magoha, some experts have now expressed great concern about its compressed nature.
According to the education experts, learners are likely to suffer from fatigue under the new compressed school calendar released by the Ministry of Education on Monday.
Besides, the implementation of this new move translates to a heavy workload for teachers and learners between the academic years 2021 and 2022 of rapid-learning for schools to recover the lost time.
This, experts, warn would culminate in burnout that may fuel stress levels and engineer high school dropout rates among the learners.
Burnout is a state of mental, physical or emotional exhaustion, which may occur when learners are exposed to too much learning content, pressure with very limited time to rest or refresh their minds.
“The school calendar makes some assumptions that will certainly not hold…. It ignores what stress and burnout can do to both learners and teachers and this may even lead to unrests,” said Emmanuel Manyasa, the Executive Director at Usawa Agenda.
Dr Manyasa further added that the new school calendar should not aim at mere completion of the syllabus and transitions.
“What do we want to achieve by compressing the calendar? This will not help children to learn,” said Manyasa.
John Mugo, Zizi Afrique Executive Director, also observed that of the eight school terms, four are 10 weeks long.
He said only two terms are 11 weeks long while two others have nine weeks.
“For 8-4-4 curriculum, this implies a lot of content compression. The children who are already behind will fall further behind, since we may not even have time or teacher energy for remedial,” said Dr Mugo.
He said the holidays are also too short for learners to recharge. “Of the six non-examination holidays in the two years, four are only a week-long,” said Mugo.
He said teachers and learners may face burnout and become ineffective with stress levels skyrocketting.
“Likely to be affected most are primary school children in boarding schools. This might be the time for parents to just withdraw them to day schools,” said Mugo.
The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) however maintains that there will be no shortcuts in syllabus coverage as proposed by some teachers.
KICD Chief Executive Officer Charles Ongondo said the curriculum must be covered in full. Therefore, teachers must improvise ways of doing so.
“Ways can be found to cover more work without necessarily reducing the content,” said Prof Ongondo.
He was reacting to a proposal by some school heads that only essential content be taught to help in learners’ transition.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the government was determined to ensure a safe reopening and learning.
He said the reopening measures are lessons drawn from the partial reopening that started in October.
“We are confident that we will remain on the right trajectory to finding the winning formula that will ensure our learning institutions are safe for learners and teachers,” said Prof Magoha.
Okwach Abagi, public policy analyst and senior researcher at the Centre for Research and Development, said congested school calendar was a bad idea that would not work effectively for the children.
“A better idea was to keep children at home and allow them to start academic calendar in September next year,” said Prof Abagi.