Taskforce must push teacher readiness, funding of education

Teachers play a central role in moulding and fashioning learners' knowledge, attitudes, competencies and skills.

This is the reason why they should undergo rigorous retraining to master competency-based education in its entirety.

The shortcomings and related flaws currently witnessed in the implementation of Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) can be attributed to the government's failure to appropriately fund curriculum reform process.

By extension, negligence by the State to retrain teachers to acceptable standards to handle CBC lessons and classes has impacted on the rollout of the new curriculum.

A scholarly research conducted by Kenya National Union of Teachers on teacher preparedness revealed that CBC piloting had not improved learners' achievement on various competencies because teachers had not been adequately trained and equipped to handle CBC lessons and classes.

The summative evaluation of the pilot phase of the new curriculum established that adoption of CBC was not based on international best practices because no research was done to justify its introduction - there were no research findings to show that CBC framework is better than the current outcomes-based curriculum framework.

Perfectly drilled

Based on the research findings as collaborated by UNESCO report on teacher education where the world body insists that authorities should recognise the importance of in-service education, the Task force on Education Reforms has no choice but to recommend that teacher preparedness is paramount at all stages of learning.

While in school, children spend most of the time with teachers, and this is the reason why UNESCO reiterates that educators have to be perfectly drilled to master CBC pedagogies and the implementation process.

Since in-service training is designed to secure a systematic improvement of the quality and content of education and of teaching techniques, the task force will have to consider addressing teacher preparedness as a stand-alone agenda.

Refresher courses have to be conducted at the cost of the government, specifically during change/review of the curriculum or syllabus.

According to summative evaluation of CBC, the new curriculum has had little effect on changing teachers' behaviour in improving teaching and increasing pupils' learning - moreover, although there are adequate textbooks in most learning institutions, these very schools do not have teaching and learning technologies. This undermines the use of child-centred teaching methods.

Since the new curriculum puts much emphasis on competencies, it would be desirable that the taskforce recommends measures that would ensure thorough preparation of teachers to be able to handle a hybrid system of education.

CBC as conceptualised requires teachers who represent the best in the profession, and can set the highest standards for best practice. Consequently, the Ministry of Education has to enhance teachers' skills and competencies in mastering CBC content, pedagogy, communication, collaboration, adaptability and empathy.

It is now evident that the ministry ignored a well-thought out curriculum reform framework developed by The Kamunge Commission.

Therefore, the new task force should revisit The Kamunge Commission Report and based on the findings conduct structured public participation as opposed to public barazas to address the gaps and flows in the current education system.

Since CBC was haphazardly developed and hurriedly implemented before teachers were adequately trained on its content and teaching methods, the 341,837 teachers in public schools and 110,000 in private institutions need to be retrained.

Since teachers play a crucial role in the embodiment of pedagogy and curricula, the task force will have to endorse teachers to undergo routine and systematic upgrading programmes.

Moreover, teacher education curriculum will need to be reformed to align it with new expectations for teacher knowledge and new roles which come with the dynamics of Competency Based Education.

Admittedly, there were countless intrigues that derailed teachers from receiving the requisite training on the new curriculum.

Teacher education

For unexplained reason(s) teachers were blocked from participating in the development of CBC. Thus, the task force should make use of this moment to address the expectations of teachers.

New thinking is also needed on how to fund education, and education-related programmes.

It should be acknowledged that there have been several attempts through commissions, ad hoc committees, and taskforces to steer CBC to the next level. The efforts have hit a brick-wall.

The economics of CBC have not been addressed fully as required. The task force therefore needs to recommend in its final report that teacher education, training and research ought to be funded sufficiently - in fact there should be ordinance on funding teacher education and training .

The ministry should recognise the importance of in-service training as it is designed to secure a systematic improvement of the quality and content of education and teaching techniques.

Since the new government has pledged to establish several endowment funds in the dducation sector, the task force will be compelled to come up with a framework and mechanism for expenditure and review the funds to ensure accountability of resources.

The task force should further recommend that the government develops a resource mobilisation strategy for teacher education and training while encouraging Public Private Partnership in the field of education.

The writer is an expert in education, leadership and policy