The implementation of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) is a case of putting the cart before the horse, former chairman of the Commission for Higher Education Ezra Maritim says.
In an interview with The Standard, Prof Maritim said there were problems facing CBC implementation but added that curriculum change was inevitable.
Maritim said CBC involves an overhaul of the existing curriculum structure and requires a commission, not the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, officials to carry out a needs assessment and produce a report. He said the original report on the need for reforms in the education sector was not subjected to public participation, hence a false-start.
“No sessional paper was produced before rolling out CBC. Sessional Paper No 1 of 2019 went to Parliament after CBC implementation. Learners were already in Grade 3,” Maritim said. He spoke days after President William Ruto formed a task force to review the system. He said the curriculum change by nature is a political project and input from all Kenyans is required.
The Parliamentary Committee on Education, he said, failed by being silent on the introduction of CBC, which was a highly guarded project where low public participation was allowed.
“Remember the popular statement that the CBC train has left the station? This was meant to silence different views and it became a problem with the introduction and implementation of CBC. It is like carrying out a surgical operation without anaesthesia. The operation will be painful,” he said.
He said CBC is expensive to implement, adding that there are hidden costs. Maritim identified three pillars of CBC as the teacher, learner, and parent. The three pillars, he said, should work together to ensure implementation becomes a success.
He questioned how learners with a humble background are to perform, adding that the CBC problem lies more on the parent pillar. “CBC is converting parents to be teachers in an education system that teachers themselves do not understand,” he said.
He added: “The curriculum requires high parental participation in the child’s daily school assignments but parents with low levels of education cannot give them guidance.”
“The parents are embarrassed to tell their children that they do not know. CBC is also expensive and time-consuming for parents,” he added.
Claims that billions have been invested to roll out CBC should not be a reason to force its implementation, Maritim added. “CBC is a good system of education but if not well planned and implemented can turn into a conveyer belt.” The task force, he said, should be inclusive and ensure there are adequate teaching and learning resources to support the curriculum. He said the junior secondary phase of CBC should be abolished.
Meanwhile, the Kenya Universities Staff Union Secretary-General Charles Mukhwaya has faulted the President, saying the task force formed to review CBC left out most unions.
“We feel that the government did not do due diligence. In fact, they did not respect the Constitution,” he said.
He added: “If they bring something that we feel is not fair we will certainly challenge it now that we have been excluded.”