Teachers: Why new education system was doomed to fail

Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development CEO Julius Jwan distributes books to pupils. Teachers say implementation of the new curriculum was bound to sail into rough winds. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]
Inadequate training and information hindered the implementation of the new curriculum, teachers have said.

Teachers, who piloted the curriculum pointed out that while it took two years to prepare them for the 8-4-4 system, they were taken through a two to three-day crash course on how to teach the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC).

They said some Education ministry officials who were supposed to evaluate them also seemed to be in the dark about the new system.

Lack of books further aggravated the situation.

SEE ALSO :Any education reform must begin with well-trained teachers

The teachers, however, supported the proposed curriculum, saying it was better than the current one.

The Government began piloting the 2-6-3-3-3 system of education, designed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), in selected public schools in January this year.

“I went through a two-year Primary Teacher Education (PTE) course to teach the old 8-4-4 system. But for the CBC, a teacher is only trained for three days in a term. How can such a teacher be expected to deliver competently?” posed a teacher who is a team leader for the CBC in her school in Nairobi.

She said the assessors for the new system were also ill-equipped.

“After the three-day training, assessors from the ministry came to evaluate us. Surprisingly, they were not conversant with the system. Some of the teachers were better than them,” she said.

SEE ALSO :Back to 8-4-4 as new system put on hold

She said the implementation was not well done as there were no enough books.

“For the old system, there was an Orange Book which contained all recommended titles which parents were advised to buy. But for CBC, there were no guidelines on which course books to buy. Teachers are forced to move from publisher to publisher and choose books based on their assessment,” the teacher said.

Selective training

She criticised the Government’s focus on training only teachers employed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

“The truth is that given the huge number of learners, most teachers in lower primary are employed by parents. This locks them out yet they are the ones to teach the new system,” she said.

SEE ALSO :Mixed signals on the fate of new curriculum not good for country

She said the focus on digital literacy had shortcomings because many schools lacked equipment.

“There is much emphasis on digital learning. You teach for 10 minutes and you are told to play a video but you realise you have no decoder and or even the video itself,” she said.

She said it was better if all teachers were trained on the new system

“There are moments you go to a staff-room and you find all the teachers in upper primary know nothing about CBC. I want a situation where when I am sick, any teacher can be called upon to come and stand in for me,” the teacher said.

A head teacher in Nairobi who trained 10 teachers in his school for the new system said though it  was good for the country, its implementation was rushed.

SEE ALSO :Amina’s silence piles confusion over fate of new school curriculum

“The manner in which the system was rushed is not good at all for administrators, parents, teachers and learners. We need a situation where all are at the same level. School heads should be trained in the equivalent of the 1990s Primary School Training for Managers (PSTM) course to champion the system,” he said.

He lamented the lack of resources, saying this has also hindered the CBC implementation.

“We need a lot of money. What the government gives primary schools is negligible. Schools need infrastructure and equipment. Where will those who love sports train? How do you teach music, arts, wood work in primary schools and yet such subjects are not taught in secondary schools,” the head teacher posed.

He said for the system to succeed, the government should involve more teachers and other education stakeholders instead of politicians.

Teachers in private schools said the training fee for the new syllabus was too high.

“In the private sector, school managers are forced to pay Sh7,000 per teacher for the training. They also buy books. The postponement of the new curriculum, means to financial losses,” said Ms Catherine Muriithi, who teaches in a private school.

She said the extra year for piloting had thrown the sector into disarray.

“Teachers were psychologically prepared for the roll-out in January. They had prepared schemes of work. Now they are forced to prepare anew for the old system,” she said.

More time

Charles Ochome, the national secretary of the Kenya Private Schools Association, said the system needed more time for national roll-out because the training given to teachers was inadequate.

“We have to back Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed because we do not have enough teachers. Teachers Training Colleges are still teaching the 8-4-4 system,” said Mr Ochome.

He warned that rushing the system’s implementation would be suicidal and the hitches identified in the piloting phase must be addressed.

“We need to embed internationally acceptable ingredients like technology. This needs time,” Ochome said.

But all the teachers agreed on one thing, “if well implemented, CBC is a good system”.

new curriculumn8-4-4 systemeducation system