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Curriculum’s challenges in the eyes of teachers who toil day, night to make it work

Education CS Prof. George Magoha is received by the headteacher of Kakamega primary school Dickson Wanyangu (right) on January 10, 2019. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

With more than 60 learners, teacher Jane Muchina has just started her Kiswahili lesson for the day. The bright and eager pupils are excited.

“I have been trained in both Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) and Tusome. I am happy that CBC focuses on the child’s well being,” she says. 

Her concern is that most of the additional teaching materials are to be provided by parents, most of whom cannot afford.

“Parents should provide manila paper, crayons, files, paints and plastersine. It is hard to explain to them because they believe everything is free,” she says. 

She adds that some teachers improvise the materials such as using mud instead of plastersine.

Githwariga Primary School head teacher Jackeline Gichuru says 11 out of the 17 teachers have been trained on the CBC.

“We will have meetings with parents to sensitise them on their role in helping the child learn under CBC. Many are unaware that the focus of the curriculum is to ensure the child has time to play and carry out activities,” she says.

She noted that unlike the 8-4-4 system where children had a lot of homework, CBC is keen on the ensuring a learner has time to enjoy their childhood. In Murang’a some teachers said the Ministry of Education had not delivered some learning material such as charts.

Murang’a East deputy Director of Education Richard Ng’ang’a said a team of quality assurance officers has been visiting schools to establish challenges the teachers could be facing in implementing the new curriculum.

Understaffing

The ministry has trained enough teachers on implementation of the new curriculum. 

A spot check at Bukolwe Primary school, a public school in Butere Sub County showed the school has at least 150 pupils in Grade Four distributed in two streams of 75 each.

Lillian Pesa, the head teacher said although the number was huge, teachers were doing all they can to ensure CBC is implemented to the letter.

“We have a problem in staffing but I know my teachers are positive and ready to implement this new curriculum,” said Ms Pesa. 

At Booker Academy Mumias, the school management said they are comfortable with implementation of CBC. 

The headteacher Tom Omuhaka said the process is smooth having kept their timelines and secured the learning materials on time.

In Vihiga, CBC has been rolled out despite a few challenges.

Idavaga Muslim Primary School head teacher Walter Mudaki said initially they had challenges with materials and teachers had not been trained, but now they are progressing well. “The only challenge now is that teachers are not well acquainted with the system, but it is a learning process we hope they will catch up,” he said.

He noted when Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha visited the school on Friday and he assured them that the materials they lack will be delivered.

In West Pokot, implementation is hampered by understaffing.

County Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary Martin Sembelo said the region is grappling with staff shortage with teacher to learner ration standing at 1 to 70.

He said although the ministry has distributed books and learning materials to public schools, there are no sufficient teachers to implement CBC.“School infrastructure is also poor. How can learners study under a tree or jigger infested classrooms? In remote areas, you will get one with more than 80 pupils in one class,” he said.

He said they have challenges implementing CBC because many teachers have not been trained.

Kasakat Primary School head teacher Jeremiah Ongenche said teachers were trained and they have received books but the main challenge is understaffing. 

He said the school has only four teachers serving Grade One to Eight. 

[Lydia Nyawira, Boniface Gikandi, Osinde Obare, Irissheel Shanzu, Brian Kisanji and Eric Lungai]