The government will construct more than 10,000 classrooms ahead of transition of learners from primary to junior secondary schools, President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced.
The Head of State directed the National Treasury to make available Sh8.1 billion for the project to support the primary to secondary school shift in the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC).
“Ministry of Education, jointly with Ministry of Interior and the National Treasury, shall establish a framework for the construction of the over 10,000 classrooms needed to provide the additional learning space required for the one million new students set to join junior secondary,” said Uhuru in his Mashujaa Day speech.
The Head of State also appealed to MPs to give the programme priority in the National Government Constituencies Development Fund by constructing another 10,000 classrooms.
“I call on all Members of Parliament to stand together in solidarity with our children by prioritising allocation of the CDF towards school infrastructure,” he said.
This means that by 2023 when the first CBC cohort will join junior secondary schools, 20,000 new classrooms should be ready.
The president said the classrooms, each at about Sh810,000, should be constructed by contractors based near the schools, and the money will be “remitted directly to the contractors in their respective sub-counties.” “This initiative will tap into the skilled manpower within the counties, empowering locals with enhanced economic opportunities,” said Uhuru.
These new classrooms will, however, be 17,000 less, as the CBC task force report projected that the government needs to create 37,000 new ones nationally to cater for the anticipated double intake of learners.
During that year, CBC pioneer learners will join junior secondary school after sitting the Grade Six national examinations, while the present Class Seven learners under the 8-4-4 system will join Form One after sitting KCPE examinations.
The total number of Grade Six and Standard Eight learners expected to join secondary school will be about 2,571,044.
However, available space for those joining secondary school is only 1,081,900. “This indicates a significant shortfall of 1,489,144 places in secondary schools in 2023,” reads the CBC task force report.
Even with the additional classrooms, the country will still be staring at a huge shortfall of space to accommodate the learners.
The Ministry of Education officials are, however, confident that there will not be a challenge. Principal Secretary of the new State Department for Implementation of Curriculum Reforms Prof Fatuma Chege said the existing infrastructure will be rationalised to fit.
Prof Chege and Basic Education PS Jwan Julius said a nationwide audit of existing schools’ infrastructure found that not all schools will require new classrooms
Jwan said neighbouring schools will be encouraged to share some of the resources with other government institutions to cut costs and for effective utilisation. And under-enroled schools would be merged.
This year, the government had allocated Sh4 billion towards infrastructure development in schools. This translates to about 5,000 new classrooms.
Focus, however, turns to the Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha for the selection of regions and schools that would be given priority for the additional classes.
CBC report identified schools that will have the biggest enrolment burden during 2023 transition from primary to secondary schools.
Kakamega, Bungoma, Nairobi, Nakuru, Homa Bay, Narok, Kisumu, Busia, Meru, Kitui, Siaya and Trans Nzoia are those that will witness the highest enrolment of secondary school students against their limited classroom capacities.
Most of these counties will have to create extra spaces for up to 90,000 children who are expected to be admitted to secondary schools yet available spaces cannot absorb them.
Kakamega County, for example, is expected to create space to accommodate of 93,703 new learners. Bungoma and Nairobi, according to the report, are expected to create 83,243 and 83,063 new spaces.
Nakuru county should have 54,750 new secondary learners, Homa Bay 88, 827 and Narok 54, 663.
Schools in Kisumu will have to expand to accommodate 50,717 fresh learners, while Busia and Meru need 45,435 and 44,513 new spaces.
Others are Kitui, which will require 43,861 news spaces, Siaya 41,723, Trans Nzoia 41,599, Kisii 39,662, Kiambu 38,912, Kwale 37,945, Kajiado 35,202, West Pokot 34,227, Uasin Gishu 33,331, Turkana 32,557 and Machakos 32,305.