Sossion fears new curriculum will diminish teachers' role

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary general Wilson Sossion.
It has now emerged that the giant teachers' union is opposed to the new curriculum out of fear that it will water down the role of teachers. 

But the brief by Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) that reveals the real reason for their rejection of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) emerges even as Parliament approved Sh2.4 billion for implementation of the new system.

The claims by Knut on inadequate teacher training, poor infrastructure, lack of legal framework and huge budgetary implications may not be at the centre of the union’s rejection of the CBC as top union leadership now cites international interference on teachers' role in education.

A confidential report by Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion argues that CBC reforms fit into the global education reforms movement modeled around huge business interests, increasingly being rejected worldwide.

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The Sossion brief to union officials argues that by reducing teachers to mere facilitators of learning, children will be allowed to learn on their own, creating what he terms ‘artificial intelligence’ in education. 

Commercial models

The Knut arguments are premised on a report by the global union of teachers –Education International (EI). Until last year, Sossion was the African representative at the Education International.

The EI findings of Pearson 2025: transforming teaching and privatising education data, warns that teachers roles in the learning process will be diminished.

Sossion said the direct supply of textbooks to schools by the government and provision of curriculum materials is a strategy towards personalising learning programmes that integrate artificial intelligence.

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He argues this will open opportunities for international business interests to pilot commercial models that will affect quality of teaching and learning in Kenya.

“There is a global trend emerging which claim that too much presence of teachers in classrooms interferes with the learning and exploration of the child and therefore their roles must be reduced,” Sossion said.

Knut argues that the global plan being adopted by Kenya is to package learning data in a form that would minimise the role of teachers in schools.

But even as the looming standoff between the union and the Ministry of Education over the new curriculum rages on, the National Assembly Education Committee have agreed to the allocation of some Sh2.4 billion for structural changes geared towards implementation of the new education curriculum.

This decision was reached after a two-day meeting at a city hotel between the legislators, Ministry of Education and officials from the Teacher’s Service Commission.

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Saturday Standard established that the funds will be used to train more teachers, improve schools infrastructure and roll out the new 2-6-3-3-3 curriculum.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha last week indicated that the implementation of the new curriculum is unstoppable. Prof Magoha said the launch of the Curriculum Policy was a clear indication that the Government is not going back on implementation of the CBC.

“I wish to assure the public that we will do everything to ensure we do not drop the ball in CBC implementation. No amount of opposition, real or imagined, will make us back-pedal on implementing the curriculum,” he said.

Sossion, whose union boasts the largest member numbers is sticking to his guns.

“Teaching is about imparting values and character formation. The artificial intelligence in education push is bad for the country and this is what is being implemented locally through CBC,” he says in his brief.

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Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) yesterday explained the strengths of the new curriculum and dismissed claims of reduced roles of teachers.

KICD argues that CBC, which is being rolled out to Grade Three, will focus on competencies as opposed to content under 8-4-4 system.

KICD Chief Executive Officer Jwan Julius said that the CBC is flexible with opportunities for specialization through pathways and that it will balance between formative and summative assessments.

Jwan also explained that CBC will emphasise more on education as opposed to schooling under 8-4-4 system and that it shall be more of a learning process than teaching. Jwan rejected the argument that teachers role will be diminished.

He said teachers will play a critical role in the learning of the children and teacher training is an ongoing process and not an event.

Jwan noted that in April, a total of 91,320 teachers from private and public schools were trained. And in August, the number of teachers some 68,490 are targeted for training.

Opposing the new curriculum, Knut has often maintained that the roll out was conducted without a legitimate policy framework and necessary statutory instruments born out of public participation.

The union has also insisted that the new curriculum was rolled out against the backdrop of an uncoordinated and poorly done pilot programme.

Prof Magoha has however declared that the CBC roll out shall proceed and committed to seal the gaps as implementation gets underway.

KICD also dismissed claims that CBC is foreign driven.

“Curriculum requires international input so that we don’t speak to ourselves all the time. This provides global perspective which is a plus,” said Jwan.

Magoha has appointed a nine-member committee to prepare for a curriculum reforms conference the August that will focus on the implementation of the curriculum.

The team to be chaired by Kenya Institute of Childhood Development chairperson Sara Ruto also includes John Kimotho, Reuben Thamburi, Ann Ngatia, Ruth Mugambi, Mary Gaturu, Silvester Mulambe, David Njengere and Samuel Siringi.

Knut, on its part has threatened to rally teachers to revert to the old teaching methods under the 8-4-4 system.

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Competency Based CurriculumKnutGeorge MagohaWilson Sossion