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University lecturer lays ground for review and rejection of proposed 2-6-3-3 system

By Benard Sanga and Willis Oketch | Published Tue, October 3rd 2017 at 00:00, Updated October 2nd 2017 at 22:14 GMT +3
University lecturer Eric Mugambi. [Photo:Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

The new education curriculum set to be implemented in January to replace the 8-4-4 system could be suspended if a court grants orders being sought.

A university lecturer has asked the High Court in Mombasa to shelve for five years the effecting of the 2-6-3-3 curriculum to allow broader consultations to address various concerns he has raised in the application that will be heard today.

Eric Mugambi, a mathematics lecturer at the Technical University of Mombasa, wants the High Court to order a fresh review of the proposed curriculum.

He said it was too futuristic and impractical to implement in Kenya in its current form.

Mr Mugambi has sued the Ministry of Education's Department of Basic Education and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), seeking an order of suspension of the roll-out of the 2-6-3-3 basic education curriculum.

The suspension is meant to allow KICD to convene a national committee of stakeholders to review arising issues and secure a practical and cost-effective implementation.

Mugambi believes the proposed curriculum has merit but adds that key stakeholders like universities, publishers and county governments were left out of its formulation and implementation, fostering immense hurdles in its unveiling.

He has sworn that the "six-year implementation strategy shall cause a crisis in our schools by admitting two different cohorts of class years at the same time into junior secondary school in 2020 and 2021..."

He contends that in its current format, the syllabus is "overloaded with content" bound to compromise student/pupil performance.

And he also believes the proposals advanced so far can be implemented in four rather than six years, with adequate adjustments.

Mugambi said the proposals promoted discrimination because there was no mechanism to determine how pupils would advance to secondary school.

Less fortunate

He also believes the abolition of a national examination at primary level will "disadvantage the less fortunate in our society who prefer low-cost schools, most of which are poorly equipped and have a dismal academic performance (record)".

The petitioner argues that inadequate thought was placed on the proposal, allowing teachers to determine how primary pupils move to secondary school through assessment tests under the new system.

He noted that left to their own devices, teachers would be biased in these assessments and most pupils would seek higher education in their localities because there was no mechanism to enable them to progress to high schools of their choices in the absence of a standard, unifying national exam.

He reckons this would lead to "social stratification because most students will remain in their neighbourhoods, which will be a deterrent to national integration..."

The suit papers filed on September 19 were served on the respondents.

Last Friday, Justice Eric Ogola ordered the petitioner to serve the application on the respondents in anticipation of an inter partes hearing this morning.

Mugambi has filed the petition claiming he wants to protect the rights of Kenya's children and believes the recommended curriculum violates the rights of the child under the Constitution.

He adds this is because it imposes heavy burdens, subjects them to possible bias and is being implemented haphazardly, without adequate public participation.

The proposed syllabus, whose implementation is slated for January 2018, is anchored on a new education system seeking to replace the 8-4-4 system.

The new system abolishes the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams in favour of teacher-based assessments to enable pupils to graduate from primary to secondary school.

Under this curriculum, learners would spend 12 years undergoing the so-called basic education - from grades 1 to 12 - sweeping through the traditional primary and secondary schools, at the end of which candidates will sit the Kenya Certificate of Basic Education.

On April 21 this year, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i told 470 head teachers of schools selected for a pilot run of the new curriculum that their feedback was crucial.

"We are not in a hurry to make mistakes. The outcome of this phase will influence the final design of the new curriculum," Dr Matiang'i had said.

He explained that by end of the year the trials would have yielded a Cabinet paper for adoption by Government.

The CS then said the national rollout of the curriculum was scheduled for next year.

Among his proposals, Mugambi argues there is no just cause to abolish national examinations without building adequate secondary schools to absorb primary schools graduates or an alternative mechanism to determine how pupils will advance from one stage to another.

He said the syllabus appeared not to have been well thought out by the widest possible array of stakeholders and that the sudden abolition of national assessments would subject most pupils to haphazard and biased assessments at the hands of teachers and tutors.

He did not see why some subjects like boxing, firefighting and photography had been given equal weight with geography and chemistry when determining entry into national universities.