How roll out of new curriculum felled CS Amina

Sports and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.
When she was appointed Education Cabinet Secretary in January last year, few people gave Amina Mohamed chance to maintain the reforms tempo left behind by her predecessor Fred Matiang’i.

Aware of this, Amina immediately embarked on an extensive pre-examination monitoring process that helped her deliver one of the cleanest examinations. But it was perhaps the success recorded in the exams that infused a false sense of confidence in her that opened the road to her countdown towards the exit doors of Jogoo House.

On a Tuesday of December 11 last year, buoyed by hangovers of releasing the KCPE examinations, Aminasurprised friends and foes when she announced that the government was not ready to implement the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

She told the Senate Education Committee that the rolling outof the CBC in January this year would be put on hold for further monitoring. “The rollout of the new curriculum is important, but it cannot be rushed,” Amina told members of the Senate Education Committee. “The design is fantastic but the devil is in the detail of implementation,” the CS, accompanied by Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang told the committee.

The statement threw the education sector into confusion as parents questioned what would happen to the new books they had purchased. It later emerged that Amina ignored a detailed brief handed to her by technocrats on state of preparedness for the national roll out when making her statement.

The brief prepared in consultation with Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) indicted that the Ministry was fully prepared.

The document said adequate arrangements for implementation of the new curriculum were complete with adequate teachers trained and necessary facilities made available.

But when speaking in Parliament, Amina said preparations were inadequate. “The worst thing that can happen is for us to roll out something that we are not all comfortable with especially parents because these are their children who are being introduced to a new curriculum. A little discomfort is acceptable but huge discomfort is unacceptable,” she said. 

Her statement in parliament contradicted what PS Belio Kipsang, had told Kenyans just two days earlier. The events seemed to indicate that Amina and her PS were not in agreement over the huge national project in the education sector.

Appearing in a live television show, Kipsang assured Kenyans the ministry was ready to roll out the new curriculum from January 2019 when schools opened. “We have gone through a process preparing teachers and engaging parents and other stakeholders. We have done what we were required to do and we are ready,” Kipsang said.

The events marked a back and forth communication about President Uhuru’s project to have children subjected to skills-based learning.

Evaluation team

Efforts to get Amina to clarify her statements at the time were futile, only saying she would communicate the following week after receiving the report of the external evaluation team.

Overall, Amina announced that the implementation of the new curriculum shall be delayed by one year to allow room to correct lessons learnt during the first two years of piloting. 

Yet in a one-page statement sent to newsrooms on December 22, Amina said: “The ministry wishes to announce that it will commence a methodical and careful organised phased roll-out of the CBC effective January 1, 2019 in pre-primary I and II and Grades 1, 2 and 3.”

The turn around in Amina’s statement shocked many Kenyans. Education sector players accused the CS of indecisiveness, with some asking whether she was best placed to make decisions that affect children.

After the reshuffle yesterday, sector players said it was long overdue, noting that even after she backtracked to support the national roll out, she had not fully owned up the process. 

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Fred Matiang’iAmina MohamedEducationPresident Uhuru KenyattaCabinet Reshuffle