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Confusion in JSS Over Textbooks For Newly Integrated Subjects

The government’s recent move to reduce the number of subjects and lessons in primary and Junior Secondary Schools has left confusion among learners and teachers, with the latter being forced to teach subjects they never trained in.

And despite having merged some subjects, the government is yet to approve and release new books for use by the teachers, adding both a financial burden and more confusion to parents who had already purchased books used under the previous curriculum that had learners in primary schools studying 14 subjects.

Indimuli urged the government to address and streamline challenges that have arisen out of the recent rationalisation of the curriculum content.

Teachers are now being forced to teach subjects they neither traind in nor are well versed as the effects of the new curriculum design begins to bite.

Most hard hit are learners who have joined Grade Eight as the government is yet to approve books for all languages, Science and Environment. Learners in other grades have been forced to use old books that were in place before the changes.

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Learners in Grade Eight have also found themselves in an awkward position after the government made Home Science , performing arts, visual arts and computer compulsory. Previously, the subjects were optional. “How do you expect a learner who has never studied a subject like computer or home science since Grade Three to cope with it in Grade Eight? This is introducing confusion to the young learners for nothing,” Lucy Mwaura, a parent in Ruiru said.

Parents and schools who had purchased textbooks previously used before the introduction of the rationalisation of curriculum content are now staring at incurring huge losses as they will have to buy new books in line with the new changes.

Teachers and parents are now blaming the government for having rushed on the integration of learning areas in a bid to reduce the subject workload for learners as recommended by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reform (PWPER).

The PWPER recommended that the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development rationalise the number of learning areas and curriculum designs in terms of scope and integration of subjects within learning areas, gaps, content overload and overlaps in Basic Education as follows.

In new changes announced by Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang last month, primary education has been divided into two– lower and upper– and the number of subjects reduced by two at each level.

In lower primary, learners are now taking only seven subjects spread across 31 lessons per week. This is a reduction from the present nine subjects covered in 35 lessons each week. Hygiene and Nutrition Activities that had been taught as independent subjects have been integrated within Environmental Activities with four lessons each week.

Art, Craft, Music and Physical Education subjects will now be taught collectively as Creative Arts with seven lessons lined up for the new subject per week.

In upper primary, learners will now take only eight subjects that will be taught in 35 lessons per week. Agriculture has been integrated with Home Science into one composite subject referred to as Agriculture and Nutrition that will have four lessons per week. Art & Craft, Music and Physical Education have now been compressed into a single subject known as Creative Arts with a total of seven lessons every week. In Junior Secondary, five subjects were slashed and now students will take nine lessons.

Integrated Science and Health Education will now be taught as one subject known as Integrated Science. Social Studies and Life Skills Education have been merged and is referred to as Social Studies. Pre-technical Studies, Computer Studies, and Business Studies are all merged into a new composite subject known as pre-technical studies.

Agriculture and aspects of Home Science have been integrated into one composite subject referred as Agriculture & Nutrition with four lessons per week. However, other concepts of Home Science have been integrated within Integrated Science.

Pre-technical Studies, Computer Studies and Business Studies have been integrated into one composite subject referred to as Pre-Technical Studies.

Physical Education and Sports, Visual Arts and Performing Arts have been integrated into one composite subject referred to as Creative Arts and Sports.

Under the new integrated subjects, teachers in JSS who only studied business studies have been forced to teach new learning areas of pre-technology, performing arts, visual arts and business after they were combined under a subject called pre-tech studies. A teacher handling creative arts has now been forced to teach arts, craft, music and physical education.

Likewise, a trained Biology teacher is now handling Physics and Chemistry after the previously health combined with other subjects to become integrated science.

“It is no longer about what you were trained in, but what you must do. Whoever is handling the five learning areas of Creative arts and sports; Pre-Technical Studies ; Agriculture and Nutrition; Integrated Science and Social Studies is actually handling 12 learning areas without knowing it,” one teacher told the People Daily on condition of anonymity.

According to Jonathan Wesaya, an educationist, public engagement and strategy consultant, though the move to reduce the number of subjects is commendable, it was rushed.

Wesaya says the government ought to have first worked on the curriculum design and approved and released the requisite books before announcing the integration of subjects.

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