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How abrasive Matiang’i lost out on new curriculum

By Standard Team | Published Sun, January 7th 2018 at 10:20, Updated January 7th 2018 at 10:27 GMT +3

KICD Chairman Sarah Ruto(left), acting Education CS Fred Matiang'i (centre) KNUT secretary general Wilson Sossion and Education Principal secretary Belio Kipsang  during a meeting on new curriculum at the KICD,Matiang'i maintained that the new curriculum will be rolled out as planned 3/1/2018. [Beverlyne Musili,Standard]

The failed national roll out of the new curriculum has left acting Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i with egg on his face as it emerged he ignored stakeholders’ advice.

Sunday Standard has established that Dr Matiang’i had been advised on many occasions that the process was being rushed and that little progress had been made technically to make it tenable within the timelines he had stipulated.

But the CS was determined to have the plan rolled out. He insisted on full implementation, noting that the country was ready for the new competency based curriculum, and that the change was for the good of Kenyan children.

But even with the plan to kick off the programme well in place, it emerged that the textbooks to be used for full implementation of the curriculum were not ready.

It also became clear that teachers, a critical group of stakeholders, were ill prepared, and that parents were not well appraised on the changes even as time ticked towards the January roll-out.

Unprepared teachers

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With less than a week to schools opening, book publishers were not yet ready and even unsuccessfully asked for more time to print books meant for Class One to three under the new curriculum.

The last batch of teachers were trained last month, just a few weeks to the schools opening as teachers – the implementers – advised that they were not well trained for the critical process. Yet the ministry maintained that the new curriculum implementation was on course even as teachers unions asked for more stakeholder engagement.

Findings of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) mid-term was in fact elaborate that teachers were generally not prepared for the national roll out. This concern was on many occasions brought to the ministry’s attention whenever there was a meeting regarding the new curriculum.

Sources familiar with the process said the findings had not improved much by the end of piloting that took place across 470 schools. A total of 32,079 children across 375 schools participated in the pilot study that also targeted pre-primary children and those in primary grade one and two.

The teachers surveyed said the new curriculum requires longer time to plan for lessons and that reference materials were insufficient. Sunday Standard has learnt that some government officials who spoke firmly against the rushed implementation of the process citing yawning unpreparedness were either intimidated or sacked.

Such voices were clear that the launch of the new curriculum as scheduled then would collapse and the process embarrass the state. Some officers at KICD became victims in the process.

Hit by the reality, pushed to the wall and left with no option, Matiang’i invited officials of then two teachers unions to a meeting to seek support before announcing the launch had aborted.

President Kenyatta, sources said, acting on the advice of the Education minister, had promised the country that the new curriculum would take off on Jan 1.

It is also understood that Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Wilson Sossion made it clear to Matiang’i that should the ministry proceed with the launch, he would go to court to stop it. In its comprehensive letter dated December 19 to Matiang’i, Knut raised several grounds that informed postponement of the national roll out. Among them was lack of a Sessional Paper and Curriculum Policy to guide the reform process and the inadequate involvement of Kenyan expertise and stakeholders in the reform process.

“You must have noticed that Kenyans are in panic mood weeks to the launch of the new curriculum. This calls for your office to play a pivotal role in ensuring that the Kenyan child gets a good curriculum,” reads the letter signed by Sossion.

Strike threats

The shocking unpreparedness, fear of a protracted court process, looming teachers strike and fierce disagreements among process by the key implementers may have informed the pushing forward of the national roll out. Speaking after chairing the Curriculum Reform National Steering Committee meeting early this week at KICD, Matiang’i still maintained that the process was still on course.

“Contrary to what some may have thought, we are on track and all activities will be executed on schedule in readiness of full implementation of the curriculum,” he said.

The report on competency-based curriculum presented to the steering committee seems to correct the missteps overlooked by the reform process and even widens stakeholder engagement to include county governments. The planned national roll-out has now been pushed to next year, effectively changing the timelines as envisaged earlier.

Another 12 months have been set aside for piloting of the new curriculum across all public and primary schools, targeting pre-primary one and two and grade one and two.

Insiders say the postponement is seen as a step to save face in a bungled process that embarrassed the head of state after persistent promise to Kenyans.

Details show that the actual roll out will take place next year and will be opened up to grade four. This year, only a selected grade three classes will take part in the piloting. The roadmap also reveals that the Sessional paper and Curriculum Policy will now be prepared and competed by March this year.

MPs will be briefed on curriculum reforms by March as county governments get appraised on pre-primary education during the same period of time. The proposed new curriculum will be evaluated by June and a national conference on whether the national roll-out will take place or not is scheduled by September.

Production of printed copies and distribution to schools will now proceed till January 26. Teacher training will be a continuous process from January to December and the Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) will be required to develop an assessment framework.

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