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Time to rethink how CBC system is being enacted

By Ken Opalo | September 11th 2021

It is not hyperbole to state that implementation of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) has been a total disaster. Teachers are largely unprepared and are yet to give the whole process the requisite buy in.

Parents lack money or time to meet the homework requirements (how many households have a printer?) And the government is hellbent on bulldozing the reforms through, tupende tusipende. Meanwhile, Kenyan pupils are the proverbial grass that suffers under dueling elephants.

The CBC reform effort will forever be remembered as a lesson on how not to approach policy change. The government dared to juggle too many balls at once and failed spectacularly. Why did we change the education system in tandem with the curriculum delivery mechanism?

What was the motivation for restructuring teachers’ employment terms and destroying their union at the same time? And were education officials aware that we were also in the process of trying to implement a 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school?

Given the barrage of disruptions happening concurrently, the CBC’s failure was over-determined. Because of our inability to delegate properly in the public sector, important things were bound to be neglected as tenderpreneurs gravitated towards the most lucrative aspects of the reform efforts.

It is therefore unsurprising that textbooks were hurriedly printed, full of all manner of errors. It also explains the apparent failure to plan for the more than 37,000 classrooms that must be built in secondary schools before the double intake of 2023.

If not done on time, about 1.5 million pupils will miss a spot in secondary school. So much for the government’s aspiration of 100 per cent transition.

The stakes are too high for the government to keep its head in the sand regarding CBC’s failures. Education is not just about creating future workers, but also about shaping responsible citizens and the foundation for social cohesion.

Does the Jubilee leadership want to be remembered as the people who presided over the wrecking of the education system?

 Assistant Professor at Georgetown University

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