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Why we must guard CBC as Kenyans

By Tom Biegon | August 25th 2021
Nursery school pupils (PP1) with their teacher have a practical lesson during a Science Fair on Climate change. [File, Standard]

Education since the colonial era had the primary purpose of safeguarding the interests of the colonialists. It was to provide them with cheap labour and colonise the minds of Kenyan children who were brilliant by their education system.

These brilliant minds got lured by the white-collar jobs that were lowly paying while the majority of the students that got average grades or those that failed in exams got entrusted with non-white collar jobs mainly in the agriculture sector as drivers, farmworkers and merchants.

By creating that false sense of security among the intelligent minds in the white-collar jobs, the colonialists managed to entrust the construction industry, agriculture, real estate, procurement, technicians and business-related trades to those considered failures from the education system.

It is this disparity that the 8-4-4 sought to correct by encouraging Kenyans to embrace careers that drive the economy like agriculture, sports, arts, real estate, business, fishing, livestock management, and more recently technology instead of focusing only on the office industry jobs that form the bulk of white-collar jobs.

The 8-4-4, initially, created a level playing field in the university intake realm until recently when the system became exam based. This led to the introduction of costly options like a parallel degree system for those who had money while the ones from humble backgrounds dropped out. This eroded the gains that had been attained from the system.

It is against such challenges that led to the change of system to skill-based, Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC). The system is designed with the objective that at the end of each learning cycle every learner will be competent in the following seven core competency areas:  

1. Communication and collaboration

2. Critical thinking and problem-solving

3. Imagination and creativity

4. Citizenship

5. Learning to learn

6. Self-efficacy

7. Digital literacy

CBC places emphasis on the development of competencies rather than on the acquisition of content knowledge for exams. To achieve this, the teachers must change the orientation from rote memorization to the acquisition of skills and competencies for life solutions.

Teaching methods should include case studies, role-play, study visits, home fun activities and other learner-centred approaches. The teacher on the other hand is the facilitator, expert and guide to the learning process. Students should take responsibility for their own learning through exploration and experiences.

In CBC, parental support is very key. The parent is expected to protect the child against any physical and emotional harm, feed the child, provide basic necessities and guide the child to make the right career choices. This is a new normal since in 8-4-4 there was no much engagement of parents in teaching and learning.

In CBC, parents should be fully engaged in the activities of the school where their child is a learner. When a parent is engaged in their child’s learning, they work closely with the teachers and school management to impart knowledge, competencies, skills, values and attitudes to the child.

Their role is also to monitor the academic progress of the child, identify areas of weakness and together with the teacher put interventions to ensure improvement in the child’s skills.

When parents are engaged, they provide informal education at home and in the community, which complements what the child learns in school. Several challenges arise as a result of parental involvement since they are fully engaged in work, traffic, businesses and maybe part-time studies too.

It is not uncommon to hear parents complain that they do not know what to do with their children during long holidays. Schools may need to reduce the amount of work that parents are expected to do in supporting home fun assignments and focus more on the learner.

CBC education system will live up to the aim of transforming education in Kenya if collective efforts are put into practice between the learner, the facilitators, the parents/guardians and school management. This will save Kenya from the effects of the unskilled population in the years to come.

The writer, Tom Cheruiyot, is an Educationist in Kericho.

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