New School Calendar Makes Assumptions That May Not Hold: Stakeholders Warn
The compressed school academic calendar released by the ministry of education may cause fatigue among learners, as per the analysis by Education experts.
For schools to recover lost time in regard to the calendar, teachers and learners must be ready for a very heavy workload between 2021 and 2022. This may result to rapid burnout and increased stress levels among teachers and learners. Additionally, schools should expect high truancy levels among learners due to inability to cope with increased stress and burn out.
With little rest or refresher time due to excessively learning content, learners may find themselves in a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion.
“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 Usawa Agenda Executive Director Dr. Emmanuel Manyasa.
Manyasa argued that the new school calendar must not necessarily be about syllabus completions and transition to the next grades. Understanding the syllabus is key since it is what may sustain a learner in the next grade and enhance application of learnt content.
“What do we want to achieve by compressing the calendar? This will not help children to learn,” said Manyasa.
Zizi Afrique Executive Director, John Mugo, also agreed with Manyasa’s observations that the school calendar has been abnormally compressed. Out of the eight school terms, four have 10 weeks, two have 11 weeks and two 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 Mugo.
According to Mugo, the holidays are too short to enhance a refresh. “Of the six non-examination holidays in the two years, four are only a week-long,” said Mugo.
Mugo urged parents whose kids are in boarding primary schools to consider withdrawing them since they will be the most hit by the burn out.
“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.
Even though some teachers proposed removal of some topics or synchronizing some topics, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD, insisted that there will be no shortcuts in syllabus coverage.
“Ways can be found to cover more work without necessarily reducing the content,” said Prof Ongondo, KICD CEO.
Okwach Abagi, a 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.