Yes, offer grants to private schools for CBC transition

A new CBC classroom at Ruiga Girls High School in Meru which was opened by the Ministry of Education Officer in charge of Human Resource, Paul Kagira. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

Implementation of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) has weathered numerous storms since it was introduced to replace the old 8-4-4 system of education. This was expected, given that human beings are slow to embrace change. This is especially so after getting used to doing the same thing over years or even decades.

The Ministry of Education, the Teachers Service Commission, teachers, parents and the learners themselves deserve a pat on their back for taking on what initially seemed an impossible task. Parents have taken up more roles and interest in their children’s learning while urban pupils now have to improvise items such as brooms and other costumes needed for CBC.

Some, including the teachers’ unions, thought the system could not work and even urged the ministry to discard it. However, the government and Education CS George Magoha were adamant that time for change had come. Critics could say the new way of instruction was forced down the throats of teachers, parents and pupils. The jury is still out on whether the system will take our children a notch higher in today’s fast-changing world full of technological advancements.

Now, the Kenya Private Schools Association has pleaded with the government for grants or loans to help private schools build more classrooms to accommodate pupils joining junior secondary under the CBC system. But CS Magoha gave a quick no, insisting that the government’s obligation is to public schools only. He said the Treasury has already disbursed Sh4 billion to construct an estimated 10,000 classes by March.

Grade Seven pupils will be transitioning to junior secondary after March, hence the apprehension over shortage of classrooms and infrastructure for the expected huge numbers. There should also be enough teachers fully trained on the new syllabus. For a smooth transition, new books are also needed. We, therefore, find the plea by private schools for grants to help implement CBC a plausible idea.

Private schools complement the government’s education mandate and have played a huge role in shaping our human resources. The so-called academies also help decongest public institutions, especially in densely populated areas. The ministry should therefore come up with a friendly engagement with private institutions, especially on the new curriculum.

This will ensure a win-win situation and the Kenyan learners will be the biggest winners in the long run. As has been found out, CBC is a costly system that calls for all hands on deck to guarantee success. The academies that get government grants and utilize them prudently should they become role models for others. And with the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of private schools are struggling financially. A helping hand from the government will come in handy and ensure a less stressful transition to junior secondary and implementation of CBC.