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Experts propose shift system to avert congestion in institutions


Class eight pupils of Nabongo primary school in Kakamega. FILE PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NMG

Education experts have asked the government to consider the shift system of learning amid overcrowding anticipated in secondary schools next year.

With about 2.4 million both from Competency-based Curriculum (CBC) and 8-4-4 systems expected to join secondary school, educationists are proposing the first group of pupils attend school from early morning up until midday, and the second group attends from mid-day to late afternoon.

The two groups can therefore use the same buildings, equipment and other resources, with the only difference being the different times of day they attend class.

“Perhaps it is time that the ministry of education instituted the shift system of learning to optimise the available human and infrastructural resources,” said Benta Abuya, a researcher at African Population and Health Research Centre.

The main idea behind double-shift schooling is to increase the supply of school places while limiting the strain on the budget.

However, there are negatives to double-shift schools according to the World Bank, key among them being the compressed time in class for learners compared to their peers in normal schools.

Additionally, most double school students do not have the opportunity to experience extracurricular activities.

“Embracing double-shift schools on a larger scale may make their presence more acceptable,” says the World Bank in its study on Double Shift Secondary schools.

Uganda is among countries where a double shift learning system has been implemented following overcrowding after schools resumed after the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

Other countries where double shift schooling has been implemented albeit for primary school include Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Myanmar, and Senegal.

In 2003, the free primary education introduced under the regime of former President Mwai Kibaki expanded access to education for many but also marked the beginning of crowded classrooms in Kenya.

While this was praised, no extra classrooms were built nor additional teachers hired, resulting in overcrowded classrooms with overworked teachers.

These are some of the factors that pushed some parents to transfer their children from well-performing public schools to expensive private academies.

Similar risks

In January 2018, the Jubilee government introduced free tuition in secondary school where parents are only required to buy school uniforms, meet lunch costs, and boarding-related levies for their children.

But even before the rollout, experts predicted that a similar pattern risks playing out in the model if the government fails to commit billions of shillings to hire teachers and upgrade learning facilities.

Then the State announced that to boost enrollment, select national secondary schools will open up day wings to admit day scholars amid disquiet from many schools including Kenya High School, Starehe Boys Centre, Moi Forces Academy, Nairobi School, Lenana School, Pangani Girls High School and Moi Girls Secondary School, Nairobi.

In August last year, the government introduced a mop-up exercise to ensure that Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidates took up their places in secondary schools.

According to the latest Economic Survey, the primary to secondary school transition rate has declined from 91 percent in 2020 to 78.5 percent in 2021.

Data from the Ministry of Education shows that 1,225,502 candidates that sat the 2021 KCPE exam have been placed in 9,200 public schools as the government moves to ensure 100 percent transition.

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