CBC fate in limbo as teachers, parents lead calls for its suspension

The developments came out during Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms meetings with stakeholders in parts of the country to collect views on CBC.

In Bungoma, Homa Bay and Elgeyo Marakwet,stakeholders said lack of preparedness by the government to implement CBC had exposed the curriculum to possible failure.

Stakeholders, including teachers, said they were still unprepared for CBC, adding the system must undergo serious reforms for it to succeed.

In Homa Bay, teachers said they were not well-prepared to handle CBC and faulted the government for failing to put in place the right structures and training to ensure the system runs smoothly.

This emerged at Homa Bay High School during a public participation convened by the CBC taskforce led by Prof Collins Odote.

Speaking after presenting their memorandum, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) said teachers were harassed to deter them from telling the government the truth on when and how to implement the CBC.

Knut Secretary in Homa Bay County Patrick Were, Homa Bay Executive Secretary Cornel Ojuok and his Rachuonyo Counterpart Eliud Ombori, said failure to accept the truth had led to the problems bedevilling implementation of the curriculum.

Were said teachers were threatened with interdiction whenever they attempted to say the truth about the curriculum.

"CBC has numerous issues but it is unfortunate that any teacher who tried to tell the truth received threats, including interdiction. We are glad that President William Ruto's government has given us opportunity to tell the truth about this curriculum," Were said.

He said CBC should be suspended at the end of this academic year until President Ruto makes a final determination after the taskforce's findings.

"Our position is that the CBC should be suspended as soon as possible until the president makes a determination on whether to scrap it or continue with it. As it is today, it is causing harm to teachers, parents and pupils," Were said.

Some of the weaknesses pointed out is a requirement that parents also have a direct role in teaching their children, "yet some parents never went to school".

Parents said the curriculum was costly.

In Bungoma, parents called for the suspension of CBC, saying it was not being implemented correctly while teachers are also ill-equipped for CBC. They said implementation of CBC was rushed unnecessarily.

Speaking during a public hearing at St Teresa's Primary School in Bungoma on Thursday, residents termed the curriculum complex and hard to actualise in rural public schools.

Benard Wafula, a parent from Bumula, said all stakeholders ought to have been involved before CBC rollout.

"The curriculum was forced on parents, teachers, and learners by the government, but I believe it can work if rolled out smoothly with all stakeholders on board," Wafula told the education task force.

He said CBC would be useful to learners and society at large if implemented in the right manner.

"It is good because it is a practical-oriented curriculum meant to jog the minds of learners but its success is dependent on the goodwill of stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and other actors in the education sector," he said.

Some of the stakeholders said CBC ought to be simplified to make it less expensive.

They demanded that junior secondary schools be domiciled in primary schools considering the age of the learners.

Participants also cited the high cost of implementing CBC and poor infrastructure and shortage of teachers among others as major impediments to the implementation of the curriculum in public schools.

Students representatives from various secondary schools across the county said CBC should not be scrapped as suggested in some quarters. They want grey areas to be refined to allow smooth implementation of the curriculum.

"It is the best curriculum, all we need is to address the grey areas to make it friendly to learners and other players in the education sector," said Brian Walekhwa, a Form Three student from Bungoma High School.

In Elgeyo Marakwet, stakeholders said the curriculum lacked a clear pathway for learners and was very expensive for parents.

Education experts, elected leaders, parents, teachers union representatives, private school owners and religious leaders expressed displeasure with implementation of CBC, calling for an urgent review of the new system.

The taskforce, chaired Prof Raphael Munavu, received views at the Tambach Teachers Training College in Elgeyo Marakwet County. Prof Thomas Cheruiyot, a Moi University lecturer, said it was wrong to have children transitioning to junior secondary school to be admitted in boarding schools located miles away from their parents. Prof Cheruiyot proposed that junior secondary schools should be domiciled in primary schools, saying it would be difficult for children aged 12 and below to cope with life away from their parents.

"CBC is overburdening parents who should not be involved in doing homework. There is also a problem with CBC assessment, where learners are evaluated more on formative assessments. The formative assessment should carry 40 per cent and summative assessment should account for 60 percent," he said.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich said CBC lacked a clear pathway for learners and asked the taskforce to set out clear pathways. "CBC is expensive for parents. I have asked the reform team to look at this curriculum from the perspective of a child from a poor family. An education system should guarantee access to education, which is a basic right, but CBC has not proved to be a bridge that enables children from poor backgrounds to access education," he said.

Former Knut secretary Keiyo branch Cleophas Lagat said it would be impossible for the government to fund CBC if its structure was not reviewed to match the country's economic situation.

He said the new system would require an additional 600,000 teachers, adding it required tutors' close attention to learners. "As a teacher, I see a problem in CBC because not adequate public participation was conducted. I am asking the taskforce to recommend the suspension of the implementation of this new system for two years as stakeholders agree on the best way to implement it," Lagat said.

Private school owners led by Ishmael Chelanga and Christopher Cheboiboch told the taskforce to recommend the funding of private schools to ease the implementation of the new curriculum. Prof Munavu said the Presidential Working Party, which started collecting views on Tuesday, had received what he described as "useful ideas" from Kenyans.

"We are still receiving views and will embark on writing our report after we conclude the nationwide exercise," he said.

In Migori, stakeholders challenged the government to pump in more money to support CBC.

The stakeholders raised concerns over CBC being too expensive, adding that teachers had not received sufficient training.

According to the stakeholders, parents had been overburdened with the cost that came with CBC.

Some stakeholders have also raised concern about the government's preparedness on moving the children to the next level, saying the transition to junior secondary schools was still shrouded in mystery.

They want the national government to provide a special fund for the CBC to ease the burden on parents and ensure its continuity and sustainability.

"We want the government to consider setting aside funds that would help in buying learning materials for learners. We are struggling as parents," Marida Bhoke, a parent, said.

The Kenya Primary School Heads Association Migori chairman Meshack Okech echoed the parents' sentiments and asked the government to buy learning materials.

"The teaching and learning process is very expensive and we resort to parents to provide for learning materials," Mr Oketch said.

In Mombasa, Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) urged the government to retain the 8-4-4 system. Other stakeholders said there was a need to implement some areas in the CBC.

CIPK's director of education Zainudin Mohamed urged the government not to abolish the 8-4-4 system and asked for reforms in the education sector.

[Stories by Juliet Omelo, Stephen Rutto, Anne Atieno, Daphine Jomo, James Omoro and Kelvin Karani]