Editorials

Schools must be flexible to avoid learner burnout

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Education CS Prof George Magoha. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • All learners are set to resume face-to-face classes from January 4,2021 though under a crash programme to recover time lost to the pandemic and avoid repeating classes.
  • The calendar shows that learners will over the next three years face shorter school terms of 11 weeks each instead of the traditional 14 while the holiday breaks will last only a week in place of the usual four weeks.

The release of the new school calendar by the Education ministry on Monday brings hope for millions of learners who have faced uncertainty due to disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

All learners are set to resume face-to-face classes from January 4,2021 though under a crash programme to recover time lost to the pandemic and avoid repeating classes.

The calendar shows that learners will over the next three years face shorter school terms of 11 weeks each instead of the traditional 14 while the holiday breaks will last only a week in place of the usual four weeks.

This is an important step because it will help tackle the huge backlog that would have choked the education system and caused massive congestion of learning institutions as shown by multiple simulations ever since schools were abruptly shut down in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Though some critics questioned the rationale of reopening schools in January given the uncertainties around the pandemic, it is laudable that the Education ministry has taken the initiative to try and avert a congestion crisis in learning institutions even as scientists burned the midnight oil to find vaccines for the virus.

But even as schools reopen in January, education officials must be flexible to avoid burdening learners and teachers. With shortened school terms and holiday breaks, it is only fair that the syllabus is revised appropriately to match the realities of the day to spare the teachers and learners unhealthy pressure.

Those setting the national examinations should also be mindful of the special circumstances facing learners to avoid burnout. The Education ministry and the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) must have a joint review of the syllabus so that learners are only tested on areas that are practically possible.

Last but not least, school authorities should also avoid burdening parents and guardians with unreasonable fees and levy demands. They must consider the fact that the school terms will be shorter and tightly back-to-back, which means that the financial pressure on parents and guardians will be heightened and at a time when the economy remains limping.