Commission in Tanzania Bars 19 Universities from Admitting Students

19 universities in Tanzania have been barred from admitting students  2017/18 academic year by the Tanzania  Commission Universities (TCU).

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The action of the TCU, which does not affect returning students, has resulted in confusion in the affected institutions.

Universities in Tanzania are expected to resume for a new session in September.

Prospective students were caught unawares by the order which came just four days into the college enrollment window.

Nearly 33,000 candidates who sat their Form Six national examination in 2017 scored first and second division to qualify for direct entry into university. Over 20,000 others with division three and below are also expected to seek for enrollment in colleges for training that corresponds with their scores.

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Kenya: President Mocks Opposition Over Free Secondary Education

Press release

NAKURU, 4 June 2017 (PSCU) – President Uhuru Kenyatta mocked the opposition today for copying his plan to implement free secondary education next year, and then pledging to do it a few months earlier.

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“You have to think. Then you have to plan. You cannot just copy, and then pledge to do it earlier,” President Kenyatta said on a campaign stop in Gilgil, as he wrapped up a three-day campaign blitz through Nyandarua, Laikipia and Nakuru counties.

President Kenyatta was accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, Nakuru Jubilee gubernatorial aspirant Lee Kinyanjui and a host of local Nakuru county leaders.

A day after the President unveiled key planks of his re-election bid that included free secondary education, scaling up the cash transfer programme for the elderly, increase and expansion of technical training institutes and health cover for mothers after maternity as the next steps in his transformation agenda.

“Politicians should not just wake up in the morning and tell Kenyans that they will do this and that and within a given period after they win elections without thinking or planning on how to go about such issues,” said President Kenyatta.

He added: “We’ve set aside Kshs 5 billion to expand infrastructure in schools to provide for the implementation of free secondary education. One cannot claim he can provide free education overnight without budgeting for it.”

The President and his deputy spoke on Sunday when they addressed thousands of Jubilee supporters at various stopovers as they at Free Area, Kikopey, Gilgil, Naivasha, Longonot and Mai Mahiu among other areas along the Nakuru-Nairobi road.

The President said the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga knows very well that policy making and implementation requires proper planning.

He said it is unrealistic for the Opposition to claim that it will implement the free secondary education a month after the August elections.

The Head of State point out that competition based on agendas and policy were key to the transformation of the lives of Kenyans.

“Our colleagues in the Opposition are doing ‘copy-pasting’ of our projects and now competing with us on dates and when to implement projects we have already put in the pipeline,” said President Kenyatta.

The President said Jubilee has promised to implement the free secondary education in January next year because it has put in place proper mechanisms that will ensure its successful implementation.

In this connection, the Head of State said Kshs 5 billion has been set aside to improve schools infrastructure to ensure the success of the implementation of the free secondary education beginning January next year.

He said Opposition leaders had no agenda for Kenyans and were now thriving on politics of tribalism, hatred and confusion ahead of the next General Election.

The President urged Kenyans to be wary of such leaders who were out to divide them on tribal and religious lines to achieve their selfish gains at the expense of the country’s unity.

He told Kenyans to be courageous and say no to ethnic based political parties, which derail development and national cohesion.

“Kenyans should judge Jubilee by its development track record. This is why I ask voters to support leaders promoting politics of unity and development and ignore those dividing us on ethnic backgrounds,” said President Kenyatta.

“Leaders must be courageous to unite the people of Kenya so as to attain accelerated development and achieve cohesion in our country instead of dividing them on ethnic backgrounds,” added President Kenyatta.

President Kenyatta said Jubilee was committed to peace and stability of the country unlike the Opposition that cared less for the two key ingredients of Kenya’s development and prosperity.

He commended different ethnic communities in Rift Valley for living together harmoniously and peacefully, saying development was elusive if there was no peace.

“Peace is paramount for development and this is why I ask you to continue embracing peace for accelerated development,” said President Kenyatta.

Deputy President Ruto urged voters to ignore the Opposition leaders who have nothing new to offer the country after failing to deliver when they served in senior positions in previous regimes.

“The August elections will be competition between those serious in service delivery and those engaging in propaganda,” said the Deputy President.

He said Jubilee’s development track record in less than five years cannot be compared to what others did in 30 years when they held leadership positions.

Source : Kenya Presidency(Nairobi)

South Africa: Solomonic Wisdom Needed to Settle Tiff Over God in South Africa’s Public Schools

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The place of religion in South Africa’s public schools is set to come under scrutiny when two groups battle it out in court later this month.

From 15 to 17 May the Gauteng High Court will hear the long awaited case, Organisasie vir Godsdienste-Onderrig en Demokrasie (OGOD) v Laerskool Randhart & Others.

OGOD’s Afrikaans name translates into “Organisation for Religions Education and Democracy” in English. According to its website, OGOD endeavours to promote fact-based education about religions of the world. It also seeks to eradicate religious indoctrination in South African public schools and promote a democratic, secular society based on human rights.

The organisation is taking on six public schools to prohibit them from identifying themselves as Christian and to outlaw their Christian practices. It is arguin against  religious observances in public schools if such observances are not in line with the Constitution. It says that the six public schools do not conduct religious observances in line with the Constitution.

The legal basis for the suit is that these schools have breached the National Policy on Religion and Education  by conducting religious observances and other religious activities. This, OGOD claims, is unconstitutional as it violates the right to equality and religious freedom. It argues that these schools cannot, for example, teach that non-believers will go to hell. The organisation also insists that pupils cannot be required to pray and sing Christian songs.

According to OGOD’s heads of argument, these schools are targeted specifically because they:

  • adopt a single faith approach to religious observances,
  • endorse Christianity,
  • advertise themselves as Christian, and
  • have scripture reading and prayers, among other actions.

It’s interesting to note that most South Africans identify as religious. The bulk of them,85.6% , are overwhelmingly Christian. Muslims are 2%, Hindus 1% and Jews 0.2%. The rest belong to other faiths.

For their part, the six schools argue that although they are majority Christian, they also accommodate other religions, in keeping with the prescriptions of their school governing bodies.

They counter that the relief sought by OGOD is drastic, and would effectively eliminate religion at all public schools in the country.

South Africa and secularism

This case is extremely complex, with a variety of arguments about the proper place of religion at all public institutions. OGOD’s stated objective to make South Africa a democratic and human rights based society is laudable. But, its claim to be doing so under the auspices of secularism is not uncontroversial.

That is because South Africa is not a strictly secular country. South Africa doesn’t have the similar strict separation between religion and the state as found in the United States, for example. It also doesn’t adhere to strict forms of secularism found in countries such as France  where merely wearing a Muslim headscarf sparked controversy.

Yet, the absence of strict secularism doesn’t mean that South Africa is a theocracy. Secularism comes in many forms and has several ideological presuppositions of its own. South Africa adheres to a “soft” form of secularism, to the extent that it has some separation between religion and state. But, this separation also allows for cooperation between the law and religion.

This much has also been made clear in the National Policy on Religion and Education. It’s this very document that OGOD wants to ensure is being implemented correctly. The policy proposes a cooperative relationship between religion and the state. This means that both the principle of separation and the possibility of creative interaction between state and religion are affirmed.

Such a “non-establishment” approach was also recently supported in the case of Christian Education South Africa v Minister of Education. The Constitutional Court declared corporal punishment in schools unconstitutional. Although it found religious motivations could not serve as a justification for corporal punishment in schools, former Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs stated:

(religion and religious people) are part of the fabric of public life and constitute active elements of the diverse and pluralistic nation contemplated by the Constitution.

By recognizing the need to accommodate both the religious and secular beliefs within the framework of managing a diverse society, section 15  of the constitution doesn’t require a strict separation between state institutions and religious observances. Examples include oaths of public office, the country’s national anthem  and interfaith prayers at official funerals.

Section 15(2) of the Constitution allows for religious observances when all the constitutional requirements are met. Such observances must:

  • follow rules made by the appropriate public authorities,
  • must be conducted on an equitable basis, and
  • their attendance must be voluntary.

Religious observances have also been protected by courts where pupils in public schools wanted to wear religious attire.

Promoting a cooperative relationship

South African law and case law clearly protect the right to religious freedom(section 15) and  equality(section 9). These are upheld when all religions are treated the same in public schools. In light of the allowance of religious observances under section 15, and the fact that South Africa is not a strictly secular state, religion is allowed in public schools.

On the other hand, public schools cannot claim to be promoting religious freedom on an equal basis if they cater for some religions only, or for the majority religion only. If a school wishes to allow religious observances, it needs to provide the same opportunities for all religions. It also needs to ensure that attendance is voluntary and in line with the constitution.

This court case has the potential to affect the right to religious freedom in public schools and other state institutions. It needs to be decided with the utmost sensitivity to the nature of religion and its importance in the lives of its adherents.

Due regard must also be given to the fact that South Africa is a religiously diverse country. Otherwise, the outcome may have far-reaching discriminatory effects for religious freedom in the future.

Source : The Coversation

Shortage of Mathematics Teachers Cause of Poor Performance of Students-Expert

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The unimpressive performance of students in Mathematics has been blamed on the dearth of qualified Teachers in the subject.

This is the assertion of the Chief Executive Officer the National Mathematical Centre, Professor Stephen Onah.

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Professor lamented that most  school proprietors engage the services of those who are not professional Teachers to teach the students, which as also resulted in poor performance of students in external examinations.

“The other factor is that because there are no enough hands to train students in this discipline persons from different areas of study even outside science based areas are brought to teach the subject.

“ Because the WAEC and NECO which are of international standard will not lower their standard because Nigeria has not enough hands or qualified teachers to train its students.

“They will always maintain their standard and so, if we are not living up to that standard, that explains our poor performances,’’

Prof. Onah also lamented that the imbalance in the ratio of Teachers to students, made teaching effectively, difficult., while calling for the increase in   incentives for Mathematics Teachers.

Kenya: Teachers Employer Issues New Guidelines to Protect Students

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Caning, sex and drug and substance abuse will not be condoned in learning institutions, teachers have been warned.

Even keeping canes in staff rooms, classrooms or any part of the school is illegal, according to new guidelines issued by the Teachers Service Commission to enhance the safety of learners.

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School administrators also have a duty to protect the learners against sexual abuse by reporting cases to the police and other security agencies.

“Cases of sexual abuse, whether within or outside the school, should be thoroughly investigated, documented and action taken with expediency,” says a circular to headteachers in primary and secondary schools by the commission’s chief executive Nancy Macharia.

The circular is seen as a response to cases of bullying in schools, whether by prefects or other students.

“Any form of bullying, including physical, verbal or psychological abuse, should be eradicated in the learning institutions,” says the circular.

“Under no circumstances should corporal punishment or use of physical force to inflict pain be administered to learners,” said Ms Macharia in the communication.

The circular also affects principals of teacher training colleges, institutes of science and technology and national polytechnics.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

All teachers are cautioned that corporal punishment or any other degrading treatment constitutes a professional or criminal offence and can lead to disciplinary action or prosecution in a court of law.

For the prefects who have lately been at the centre of the bullying cases, the commission has directed that they be sensitised on their role in school governance, which does not include punishing learners in any way.

Recently, the principal of Alliance High School, Mr David Kariuki, opted for retirement following allegations of bullying at the school that left scores of students injured.

The bullying is said to have been carried out by prefects and senior students for a long time, yet the principal had not taken action.

Parents raised the alarm with the Ministry of Education early this year, leading to an investigation.

Maseno High School principal Paul Otula was interdicted and is currently under investigations over claims that a student at the national school was sexually molested by senior students.

EXPOSURE TO DRUG

The learners should be protected from exposure to drug and substance abuse through stringent surveillance programmes to make the learning and surrounding environment free from drugs.

“Guidance and counselling should be intensified to sensitise learners, parents and guardians on the dangers of drug and substance abuse,” said Ms Macharia.

The TSC boss has also warned headteachers against forcing or allowing students to repeat classes after it emerged that some schools were forcing academically weak students to repeat or were asking them to register in other schools, to ensure the schools perform well.

“Forced repetition is prohibited under Section 35 of the Basic Education Act. All learners should be assisted to transit to the next class and complete any given segment in the learning cycle,” she reminded headteachers.

School administrators who are still allowing holiday tuition have been put on notice after the commission made it clear that all schools should operate within the term dates issued by the Education Cabinet Secretary.

The circular is copied to the Cabinet secretary, county directors of education, regional coordinators of education, headteachers’ associations, and other education stakeholders except the teachers’ unions.

TSC has also asked headteachers to ensure learners report and leave school within the prescribed hours.

Source : Daily Nation

Zimbabwe: Outlawing of Child Beating Draws Mixed Reactions

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Christian and traditional leaders have slammed the recent High Court decision outlawing the beating of children at school and in homes, saying it had an effect of spoiling the children and promoting indiscipline in the country.

Justice David Mangota declared the practice unconstitutional and struck down relevant pieces of legislation that allowed canning in schools.The ruling bars the beating up of children even for disciplinary purposes.

In an interview, Bishop Patience Itayi Hove of the El Shaddai Ministries International said the decision had serious repercussions to society.

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She relied on Proverbs 13 Verse 24 which reads:

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

Bishop Hove said beating up children was biblical and it helped in the process of training them up.

“The word of God allows that. At least 85 percent of Zimbabweans are Christian and we must read and abide by the word.

“Children should be beaten up but that must be done responsibly,” she said.

Reverend Paul Damasane, principal director in the Ministry of Rural Development, Preservation of Culture and Heritage said beating up children was a necessary evil.

“The Bible commands us to train up our children and we should find ways of complying with the command both in schools and at home. The Bible says foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child but the rod of correction drives it away,” he said.

Rev Damasane said beating up a child should be used only as a last resort because there were several other means of driving away foolishness from children.

Chief Seke, Mr Stanely Chimanikire, weighed in saying the judgment was not in sync with Zimbabwean culture.

“We were brought up in an environment where children were disciplined through the use of a rod and we did not die. Children need some form of discipline to shape them into responsible and well behaved future men and women.

“Grooming in our context, involves some beating, but we must make sure we do it out of love and responsibly,” he said.

Chief Seke said the abolition of corporal punishment would promote juvenile delinquency.

“The decision of the court, if implemented, will bring more problems than solutions to our country. The children will become more mischievous and uncontrollable,” said Chief Seke.

Historian and former Cabinet Minister and educationist Cde Aeneas Chigwedere said outlawing child beating was necessary but some control measures must be put in place to protect the same children from abuse.

“The starting point of progress is discipline. If there is no discipline, there is disorder.

“Beating is necessary but the teachers and parents must be controlled. Some of the parents and teachers are ruthless and they unreasonably and brutally assault the children.

“Under the colonial era, there was a law barring teachers from beating up children. When the child’s mischief got out of hand, teachers would take him or her to the school head for caning.

“Only the head had authority to beat up children but he would do so in terms of the set standard guidelines.

“There were standard sticks used to beat up naughty pupils to ensure their safety,” he said.

However, educationist and social commentator Mrs Rebecca Chisamba had different views.

“Personally, I am against corporal punishment. People are now abusing children in the name of disciplining them.

“These days some teachers may express their anger for delays in getting bonuses on the innocent children. When they have grievances with their employers or their bosses, the innocent souls may simply be caught up in crossfire and they are unjustifiably beaten up.

“Some parents, especially stepmothers, may punish the children to express their anger at the conduct of their husbands.

“Newspapers are awash with such cases where children are seriously injured or even maimed due to violent attacks in the name of disciplinary measures.

“I support the decision of the court and we must resort to non-violent means of disciplining our children like dialogue,” she said.

Source : The Herald(Harare)

Plateau State University Suspends Two Union Executives For Insubordination

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The management of the Plateau state University, Bokkos, has suspended two executives of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities(SSANU) for exhibiting tendencies considered to be disrespectful to the Vice Chancellor of the institution.

The affected executives are  Chairman and Secretary, Messrs Timnan Rimdap and Dusu Sambo Yaro respectively.

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According to the suspension letters dated 27, January, 2017 and signed by the University Registrar, Mr. Amos Mallo, the suspension is for three months, while they would receive   half of their  basic salaries during the period.

The university also stated in the letters, that the affected union executives would not be allowed into the institution’s premises  while the suspension lasted.

The letter also directed them to hand over their duties and Identity cards to the most senior officers in their respective departments.

The predicament of the suspended union officials began after the inauguration of the  university’s branch of the union, on November 26, 2017.  The union officials had requested for check of dues from members, but it was no acceptable to the University authority, which insisted that the union would not be recognized until it was registered by the union.

This led to the exchange of correspondence between the management and the union.

However, the university management,did not take kindly to  the tone of letters to it, and direct text messages to the Vice Chancellor, which it described as  disrespectful.

Zimbabwe: Dokora Curriculum – Teachers Vow to Petition Mugabe

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A Teachers union is soliciting for 500 000 signatures from members with the aim of petitioning President Robert Mugabe to stop the implementation of the new curriculum introduced by education minister, Lazarus Dokora.

Dokora, in January this year, introduced a new curriculum in the primary and secondary education system “without” consulting teachers and other stakeholders.

The curriculum, among other subjects, introduced the writing of dissertations by form four students and mandated the same to go for industrial attachment.

The new curriculum also did away with subjects such as Geography, while bringing in a “Muslim” subject which replaced religious studies.

Also introduced was sexual reproductive health studies in primary schools.

Last week, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), held a stakeholders meeting in Harare, where they deliberated and resolved to approach President Mugabe and appeal for the abandonment of the new curriculum.

Teachers said they were not given enough time to scheme and understand the new curriculum.

“We are going to apply a multifaceted approach as this meeting has agreed which include litigation, naming and shaming the ills and shortcomings of this curriculum so that we try to knock sense to the government ,” PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou, announced after the meeting.

“We are not against government but what we are simply saying is that we want to be consulted and we do not want to be ruled but to be led properly and our massage is that the basic and best thing is to leave the education system as a terrain of professionals not politicians,” said Zhou.

PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe said they wished to petition President Mugabe and parliament as well as challenge Dokora’s unplanned decision to force teachers to implement the new curriculum without giving them time to study it.

“It is the future of our children which is being destroyed because as we speak teachers are not teaching because everything brought by Dokora is relevantly new to them.

“We hear that Dokora is saying that we were consulted, but the truth of the matter is that we were not consulted. Our involvement and observations were not factored in, so when they talk of consultations it must be direct day light robbery and thievery that culminated in a document that does not summarize the truth,” said Majongwe.

He added,” So, in as far as we are concerned in the submissions that we are going to be making to whoever wants to listen to us, this process was fake, it is a clear fraud and it does not fit and pass the litmus test of what it was meant to achieve”.

Source : New Zimbabwe

Kenya: National Exams to Be Scrapped Under New Education Plan

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A new education system that will replace the 8-4-4 was unveiled Monday and will phase out the national examinations currently done at the end of primary and secondary school cycles.

Unlike the current system that is heavily focused on examinations, the new one will be competency-based and will give more emphasis on identification of talents and nurturing them.

The new system puts emphasis on continuous assessment tests rather than end of cycle tests.

The focus is to equip learners with skills rather than having them cram and reproduce facts.

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Learners will take two years in early childhood education, three in lower primary, three in upper primary, three in lower secondary and three in senior secondary.

The National Basic Education Curriculum Framework that has been working on the system has not, however, indicated how many years will be spent in tertiary institutions.

According to the new framework, the new system will give every child a chance to succeed in life by carving out pathways that develop their interests and allow them to live and work locally, nationally and globally.

Initially, it had been planned that the new curriculum would be piloted in May and rolled out in January next year, but that is not conclusive yet.

This is because the syllabuses as well as teaching and learning materials have not been produced.

Neither has training been done for teachers nor the modules for teacher training been concluded.

CONSULT MORE

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, who launched the system at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, asked Kenyans to continue making suggestions on it with a view of improving it.

“We should make it better and avoid negative views,” he said and directed the Kenya Institute of Curriculum development to hold quarterly meetings with stakeholders to enrich the system, adding that the government had a specific budget for the review.

The new system is crafted around three levels — early, middle and senior schools — with a focus on continuous assessment tests as opposed to the summative evaluation that defines the 8-4-4.

In the initial plan, the curriculum should have been rolled out next year in pre-primary and lower primary schools. But this has not been concluded.

In the framework, the curriculum provides that pupils join pre-primary at the ages of four and five followed by lower primary at between six and nine years.

Middle school will comprise upper primary and junior school while graduates of junior school will branch out to either senior school, tertiary or higher education depending on their competencies.

They will also have the option of joining talent schools, general education on technical and vocational skills or basic education and training.

Under the new structure, pupils will progress from Grade 1 to Grade 12.

However, experts and teachers union leaders who attended yesterday’s national conference asked the government to allow for more consultations for the system to become acceptable and successful.

Religious leaders, led by National Council of Churches (NCCK) General-Secretary Peter Karanja said they supported the review.

Education scholar Gilbert Oluoch said the new system will be expensive because it will require re-training of teachers and the construction of more facilities to accommodate a higher transition rate.

TRAIN TEACHERS

The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) cautioned the government against rushing the process without having re-trained the teachers who will implement it.

“At this time, observing the progress made, we feel that the process is being rushed because of signs that we are reading,” said Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion, warning that since the review was not a political flagship project, politics should be kept out of it.

“It is the teacher who needs to understand these reforms more than the curriculum developers who will never implement it,” Mr Sossion told the forum.

He also demanded that more time be allocated to testing the curriculum.

“In this case, considering the timelines given, 2018 school year may be the best timing for this pilot.

“We should create space for a good evaluation of the pilot outcomes, both internal and external and measure the results of the proposed changes.

“A rushed process, and one that is both implemented and measured by insiders may miss the target,” said Mr Sossion.

He added: “We need to carefully define the outcome levels that will measure success and carefully introduce sound measures that will inform the review.

“While it is important that KICD evaluates the process, we need to invest also in a external evaluator.

“This way we can guarantee that we shall deliver to Kenyans valuable reforms.”

Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori asked stakeholders to study the system keenly.

“Both angels and devils are in the details of the curriculum review process and therefore we must provide 21st century facilities for effective learning to take place,” he said.

Catholic Bishop Alfred Rotich asked stakeholders and the government to be open on the review and not to introduce contentious issues such as sex education.

LEARNING AREAS

The system gives students in secondary school a chance to specialise in the subjects they wish to pursue in tertiary institutions and learning areas have been divided into three categories: arts and sports, social sciences and science and technology, engineering and mathematics.

Under sports, students will pursue games, performing arts and visual arts while social science options will be languages and literature, humanities and business studies.

The third option will have pure and applied sciences, engineering and technical studies.

Subjects to be taught in lower primary will include literacy, Kiswahili, English and indigenous languages, as well as mathematical and environmental activities (science, social and agriculture activities).

In upper primary, pupils will be taught Kiswahili, English, home science, agriculture, science and technology, mathematics, religious studies, moral and life skills, creative arts (art, craft and music), physical and health education, social studies (citizenship, geography and history) with an option of foreign languages (Arabic, French, German, Chinese) and indigenous languages.

At junior secondary, a learner will be required to take the 12 core subjects — including English, Kiswahili, mathematics, integrated science, health education, pre-technical and pre-vocational education, social studies, religious education, business studies, agriculture, life skills education, sports and physical education.

They will also take a minimum of one and a maximum of two subjects according to personalities, abilities, interests and career choices.

The optional subjects are home science, computer science, performing arts, foreign languages, Kenya Sign Language, indigenous languages and visual arts.

In senior secondary, a student will take two core subjects irrespective of the pathway identified.

They include community service learning (life skills, citizenship, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and research) and physical education.

Source :  Daily Nation