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Fierce CBC battle heads to court

EDUCATION
By Kamau Muthoni | September 18th 2021

Shikuku Shining Stars Academy pupils are being trained at their institution at Sicharai in Kakamega on March 4, 2020.[Benjamin Sakwa,Standard]

The grumble over the new education curriculum has crystalised into a legal suit with a lawyer challenging its continuing implementation.

Esther Ang’awa, in a case filed before High Court, argues that the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) was rolled out without prior preparations and consultations.

At the same time, she argues that teachers are ill-prepared and the implementation of the new curriculum will harm children's future.

Ang’awa has sued Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), National Assembly, and Interior CS Fred Matiang’i.

She wants the court to halt CBC implementation until her case is heard and determined.

“The actions of the first to the fourth respondents as set out in the petition are manifestly unconstitutional and unlawful, are prejudicial to the future of the children of Kenya and ought to be halted pending the hearing and determination of the questions raised,” her lawyer, Nelson Havi, the Law Society of Kenya president, argues.

Ang’awa is also asking the court to request Chief Justice Martha Koome to empanel a bench of more than five judges to hear the case. She is of the view that her case touches on weighty issues, which require more than one judge to settle.

CBC was introduced through Basic Education Curriculum Framework 2017 and Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2019 on the policy framework for reforming education and training for sustainable development in Kenya.

According to her, CBC is not superior to 8-4-4 adding that it does not cater for the needs of the country. She argues that CBC cannot stand without amending Basic Education Act No. 4 of 2013.

Her argument is that overhauling the 8-4-4 system is illegal and vague since it converts primary school to a secondary institution without a clear-cut transition process.

“The effect of this overhaul and replacement of the system and structure of basic education is to designate a primary school as a secondary school and obfuscate the dichotomy between these two components of the basic education structure necessary for the transition from primary education to secondary education without amendment of Basic Education Act No 4 of 2013,” the 162-page petition reads in part.

Ang’awa argues that concerns raised on implementation of CBC by the former Education CS Amina Mohamed (current Sports CS) were never addressed.

She says that in 2018, Amina recommended that the CBC should be halted until the hitches that were emerging were fully addressed.

The lawyer says the government has not allocated money to cater for teachers' training, equipment purchase and building facilities to effectively roll out the new curriculum.

At the same time, she states that KICD has not provided material for teachers and learners and has not set quality assurance standards to measure the curriculum.

She says school books are different while assignments differ countrywide. According to Ang’awa, CBC was imported from other countries and has imposed an economic burden on parents and guardians.

The lawyer states that competency-based training was conceptualised in the 1960s but has not been accepted as a teaching approach for basic education.

She claims that the same system has failed in Russia, United Kingdom, Kuwait and Tanzania.

“There is a wide public outcry in the manner in which the CBC has been imported from other jurisdictions where it has failed to achieve the intended objectives,” she says.

Anga’wa also relies on a 2019 Preparedness Report from TSC to argue that teachers are not prepared to teach CBC, adding that another report on the curriculum prepared by Prof Laban Ayiro has never been made public.

Prof Ayiro, she says, also recommended that the government should continue with the 8-4-4 system until the issues he had cited on CBC are addressed.

Meanwhile, the lawyer has also roped in the Jubilee government by placing their manifesto as proof to her argument that change of the curriculum is a scapegoat for failed promises.

Ang’awa, who is also an LSK council member, states that the Jubilee government's failure to put in place a system for employment cannot be a reason to change the mode of education.

She argues that CBC is focused on child labour other than nurturing them for industrialisation and economic drive.

According to her, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in 2013 promised to re-engineer the education system in order to provide skills and competencies for employment.

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