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Shocking new curriculum backtrack amid investments

By Augustine Oduor and Stephen Teng’o | December 13th 2018
Education CS Amina Mohamed (L) and her PS.Belio Kipsang when they appeared before the Senate Education Committee at Parliament on Tuesday 11/12/2018. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Only days ago, Education PS Belio Kipsang and Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development Director, Dr Jwan Julius assured Kenyans of the implementation and successes of the new curriculum..

But the immediate about turn by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed on the roll out has caught many parents unawares with several questions raised over huge resources invested in the project.

In a candid statement, Amina said: “The roll-out of the new curriculum is important, but it cannot be rushed.”

Appearing before the Senate Education committee, Amina said: “The design is fantastic but the devil is in the details of implementation. We are doing all we can as a ministry to bring stakeholders on board.”

The revelations came against a backdrop of an internal evaluation report that only placed the score at 56 per cent.

“Our overall quality of CBC implementation, based on international benchmarks, is 56 per cent. The minimum threshold set out for global standards for such an exercise is 50 per cent. This means that our quality of implementation during the pilot phase is currently six percentage points above the international benchmark,” Amina said recently after receiving report.

The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) report said that the quality of the learning environment and support for the CBC stood at 62 per cent, with the quality of learning and teaching is at 62 per cent.

Education stakeholders raised questions why the score was still low even after two years of piloting. They said teachers had not been adequately prepared even as the government maintained that learning materials had been made available.

“Some teachers are struggling with the concept and lacked the capacity demanded by the new curriculum,” the report said.

But even with these developments, Dr Kipsang and Dr Jwan on a live television show at the University of Nairobi affirmed the national rollout was on track.

Scholars, government officials and stakeholders in the education sector also discussed Kenya’s expected competency-based curriculum at the repurposing education for growth event forum.

False start

The dialogue led by Dr Belio Kipsang, the education Principal Secretary, Eva Nabutuni, the Director of special needs education at Acorn Special Tutorials, Dr Jwan and Dr Anne Aseey, a senior lecturer at the Open Distance and Elearning Campus happened at the University of Nairobi.

According to Dr Jwan, the competency based curriculum is aimed at addressing the weaknesses in the present 8-4-4 system by accommodating the talents of all children.

This would ensure that the young ones appreciate the diversity, which the studies will provide as they mature.

In addition, learners would have certainty in the direction they will be headed under the divisions of arts, humanities and the sciences in the education sector.

This follows the guarantee of no child being left behind in the nurturing of their talents by the KICD.

Nonetheless, the Kenya National Union of Teachers has raised concerns about the true preparedness of the competency-based curriculum before determining their support or opposition of the programme.

Inadequate teacher training, the shortfall of appropriate learning resources and a lack of proper public awareness are among the key concerns of the union.

On that account, a teacher capacity building training had been put in place by the government to ensure that as teachers continue to function in their occupations, they are continuously able to align themselves with the curriculum’s new required ways of teaching.

According to Dr Kipsang, teachers would be offered the new curriculum designs to enable their smooth transition from the current objective based curriculum to the anticipated competency based curriculum.

Nabutuni said the mindset of teachers would have to change in their approach towards teaching under the competency based curriculum since learners will be the central focus of the new educational programme.

This reverses the current 8-4-4 system where the teacher laid down the law for the pupils to follow.

In the same vein, the government said it had expanded the capacity of the Kenya Institute for Special Education to training teachers on how to handle and teach learners with special needs.

Dr Kipsang confirmed the establishment of a referral centre within the institute that will assist in identifying and attending to the special needs of the learners.

Given that technology is fundamental for change as it alters the nature of education and influences employment, laptops would be integrated in the new curriculum to make the learners appreciate the education more.

The addition of the ‘learning to learn’ competency to the curriculum was expected to prepare the learners enrolled in the curriculum to adapt to future changes in the work environment and in society.

Adaptability to the future

In the opinion of Dr Aseey, finances play a fundamental role in the anticipated effectiveness of the proposed competency-based curriculum.

Therefore, creating awareness of financial planning to parents will make parents aware of the prospective careers of their children and plan accordingly.

Dr Kipsang had said Sh468 billion shillings would be injected in the education sector to sustain the curriculum and learning at large in the year 2019.

The figure takes up 5.3 per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product and 25 per cent of the country’s national budget.

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