School heads: Our road map to resolve new syllabus hiccups

Head teachers, teachers from various secondary schools countrywide follow proceedings on the 1st day of the 44th Kenya Secondary Schools Head teachers Association (KESSHA) annual national conference at the Kenya School of Revenue Administration (KESRA) in Mombasa County on June 10, 2019. [Gideon Maundu/Standard]
The Government must quickly train secondary school teachers on the new curriculum to avoid the confusion that has rocked its roll-out at the primary level, principals have said.

The educationists who spoke at the ongoing Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) conference in Mombasa yesterday, also asked the Government to furnish their teaching staff with the new designs for the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

Authorities must also improve facilities in schools to ensure successful roll-out of the new syllabus at the higher levels, said the principals.

"Unless this is done, trouble awaits implementation of the CBC at the secondary and tertiary levels," Kessha chairman Kahi Indimuli said.

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This came as publishers complained that the Government was yet to provide them with designs for the new curriculum for Grade Four. They said it was such delays that caused the rush witnessed in implementing CBC in the lower grades.

Mr Indimuli said it would be dishonest for planners in the Ministry of Education to wait for years before addressing concerns they had raised and expect seamless implementation of CBC.

"In just three years, secondary teachers will be expected to implement the CBC. This will be amidst other challenges many schools have been grappling with, including inadequate teachers, facilities and laboratories among others," he said.

And the school heads warned that time was running out for them and that they needed to familiarise with the designs and content of CBC as soon as possible so they could adequately prepare to deliver it in secondary schools.

"We are still in the dark as far as the content of CBC is concerned. We also want a clarification on whether junior secondary studies will be conducted in primary or secondary schools," said Indimuli.

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He added: "We expect Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to move with speed and ensure secondary teachers are conversant with the new syllabus ahead of implementation to avoid unnecessary hitches such as those experienced at the lower level."

“We fully support CBC, but we want to know its design so we can prepare well,” Indimuli said during the conference at the Kenya School of Revenue Administration.

Prof Magoha is expected to officially open the conference being attended by an estimated 7,500 secondary school heads today.

At the same time, book publishers also urged the ministry to develop and share designs of the CBC for secondary schools in time to avoid challenges that would come with its implementation.

Boniface Kiarie, the head of operations at Target Educational Publishers, said uncertainties about the CBC had caused them huge losses.

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“We have embraced the new curriculum but we are asking Government to give us the designs for the Grade Four in time to avoid the rush witnessed with the lower grades,” Mr Kiarie said.

He said publishers had made between 40 per cent and 50 per cent losses due to a change of the curriculum.

"The Government should avoid unnecessary delays. We have to make relentless efforts to make this curriculum a success. We should plan ahead and get the best content we can,” he said.

High Flyer Series sales and marketing manager Charles Chege claimed the CBC had been marred with politics, particularly from the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), which appeared to be fighting Government over the curriculum.

Chege urged Government to support publishers to ensure they developed the right content despite the confusion caused by the union.

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“There are vested interests in the CBC. The politics that have marred its roll-out may derail publishing of course books. Most of us fear publishing books and then they go to waste. There is no perfect curriculum anywhere in the world hence, government should guard CBC against politics around it,” said Chege.

Chege said transition to the new syllabus had led to losses that forced them to cut the number of staff by half. “We have reduced the number of our employees from 40 to 20 as a result of the changes in curriculum. We want Government to address the uncertainties that have rocked the plans so the implementation of CBC can be smooth,” he said.

Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion has opposed the CBC, arguing that it was being rushed without proper planning, legal and policy framework and training of teachers.

Yesterday, Indimuli asked Government to develop adequate infrastructure in schools to accommodate increased number of students following the 100 per cent transition policy from primary to secondary levels.

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