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Unions unite in urging judges to reject case opposing CBC rollout

By Kamau Muthoni | May 2nd 2022 | 4 min read


Grade 4 learners at St Peters Elite school in Gilgil during the Competency-Based Curriculum practicals at the school in Gilgil, Nakuru County. [Standard]


Teachers’ unions have supported the implementation of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), urging the High Court to dismiss a case filed by a lawyer seeking a return to the 8-4-4 system.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) argue that CBC will offer limitless opportunities for learners.

In response to lawyer Esther Ang’awa’s case challenging the rollout of CBC, Knut Secretary-General Collins Oyuu took a different standpoint from his predecessor Wilson Sossion who opposed CBC.

Sossion wanted the implementation of CBC stopped citing poor preparations including lack of training for teachers, lack of infrastructure and teaching materials, as well as lack of funds to finance the rollout. 

He wanted the government to stick to 8-4-4 stating that the assessment guidelines were unclear hence teachers found it difficult to assess learners’ competencies and learning progress.

Under the Nominated MP’s tenure, Knut conducted two researches on the implementation of CBC in pre-primary and lower primary grades whose reports were released in March and August 2019. It is on the basis of these two reports that Ang’awa argued that the government was ill-prepared to roll out CBC in 2019.

While distancing the union from the reports, Oyuu, through lawyer John Mbaluto, stated they do not represent the current situation in the education sector.

“The proverbial horse has long bolted and the petitioner has not explained her delay in bringing the present petition…Fundamentally, the reports do not reflect Knut’s present position regarding CBC,” argued Mbaluto in court papers filed before High Court judges Hedwig Ong’undi, Anthony Mrima and Anthony Ndung’u. Oyuu said from the time he took over from Sossion in June 2021, Knut has shifted gears to wholly support CBC’s full rollout.

“I wish to state that Knut does not oppose the said education system. There is nothing in CBC and its implementation that contradicts, offends, or violates any of the provisions of the Basic Education Act or the Constitution,” said Oyuu.

From Knut’s court documents seen by The Standard, CBC has the foundation level, intermediate level, pre-vocational level, vocational level, university and tertiary education training, and the world of work.

The foundational level has pre-primary and lower primary (early years education) and will have between four-year-olds and children of nine years.

Upper primary and lower secondary that are in the intermediate and pre-vocational levels will accommodate children between 10 years and 15 years.

Teens between 16 and 18 years will be in the vocational level (senior school) and will either transition to universities or decide to start working.

Meanwhile, Kuppet Secretary-General Akello Misori said members have confidence in the success of CBC as the government has, among other things, built more than 10,000 classes to ensure smooth transition.

According to him, CBC’s main goals include developing learners’ skills and knowledge with an emphasis on applying them to real-life situations.

“It is our considered view that CBC is aimed at the flexibility and a well-coordinated programme that will provide limitless opportunities to the children for lifelong learning and the achievement of basic education for all,” said Misori.

He is of the view that the new system is based on instructions, assessment, grading, and academic reporting centered on a child’s knowledge and skills as he or she progresses through their education.

Misori further argued that the 8-4-4 system did not embrace the holistic development of a learner as it concentrated on the passing of examinations.

Holistic development

“We appreciate that the new system is in tandem with the goals of making education more versatile to meet the demands of the 21st century. The system equips learners with the knowledge for their holistic personal development and competencies of nation-building,” he said. To support his case for CBC to continue, the Kuppet boss attached the union’s views on CBC submitted to the education task force dated August 7, 2019.

Kuppet’s key concern was the teachers’ capacity to handle junior and senior secondary students. The union was of the view that teachers did not have adequate capacity to interpret and implement the new curriculum.

The union recommended that junior secondary education should remain in the existing secondary schools as they have the infrastructure to prepare them for senior secondary and tertiary education.

The union also implored the government to train teachers while increasing the quantity of infrastructure to match the outcomes.

Misori argued that Kuppet’s views were included and its members are backing its implementation of CBC.

“The new system envisions a variety of opportunities for identification and nurturing. It is focused on making learning enjoyable. Emphasis by the ministry is that all teachers trained on competency-based curriculum should actively participate in the ongoing examination exercise,” he said.

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