CBC is in disarray because State has ignored advice

Education CS Prof George Magoha with Nakuru West Mp Samuel Arama during the commissioning of a CBC classroom at Nakuru Girls high school in Nakuru Girls on May 16, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The implementation of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) faces headwinds due to the failure of the Education ministry to heed the advice of curriculum experts, university lecturers, and education economists.

It is emerging that the ministry has failed to embrace the recommendations of the task force that was established to interrogate pertinent issues, policies and strategies that the education sector needs to address in order to ensure effective curriculum reforms.

The 332-page report is gathering dust in Jogoo House as Kenyans are treated to a public relations exercise on how the government is constructing classrooms and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) training teachers on CBC.

The ministry has further disregarded the approved CBC Implementation Framework, whose aim was to align the focal areas of the new syllabus to proposed activities, timelines, means of verification and the entities responsible for the implementation of the curriculum.

By and large, it is due to these failures that implementation of the new curriculum is facing myriad challenges – lack of school infrastructure, failure to train teachers adequately on CBC, large class sizes, lack of adequate teachers, shortage of teaching-learning tools and lack of co-operation from parents who assert that CBC is too expensive, involving and time-consuming.

The creation of the State Department for Implementation of Curriculum Reforms to oversee the rollout of CBC has not addressed the teething problems encountered in the implementation process – the department has failed to execute its core functions as expected.

As the department continues to lose sight of of the focal areas of CBC, it is emerging that the major drawback is the weaknesses of a competency-based approach to the curriculum design – it does not suit subject areas where it is difficult to prescribe specific competencies or where new expertise and mastery need to be accommodated.

It is also emerging that the department has not taken seriously Pertinent and Contemporary Issues (PCIs) in CBC. These include global citizenship education, peace, integrity and human rights; health – HIV/Aids, Covid-19, alcohol and drug abuse, lifestyle diseases; life skills, values, and sexuality.  

Kenya may be forced to join the long list of countries that have rejected CBC because of the harsh reality of the economics of the new curriculum. The department has failed to discuss openly the demand and marketability of Competency Based Education (CBE); financing and provision of CBE, and the comparative efficiency of various programmes and policies associated with the new education system.

The economics of CBE would shed light on the use of educational resources, tools, infrastructure, and human resource training.

In sum, the development and rollout of CBC should have been addressed in Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2019 on Reforming Education and Training Sector in Kenya for the government to establish infrastructure, train and hire teachers, supply teaching materials, work on legal and policy issues, among others.

Mr Sossion is a member of parliamentary Committees on Education and Labour