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Subject CBC report to public validation

OPINION
By Wilson Sossion | February 15th 2021
Education CS George Magoha with Standard Eight pupils when he visited Roysambu Primary School in Nairobi on December 23, 2020. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Competency-Based Education (CBE) is a complex type of learning that is often placed near other related concepts like outcomes, skills, abilities, personality traits, capacities, knowledge, attitudes and values. 

In this context, the design of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) becomes one of the most debated subjects. 

Focusing the curriculum on competencies brings with it a new vision on the structural components of the curriculum and the ways they interact. The emphasised principle of CBC represents important resources for teachers who work in this educational context.

Indeed, it is for this reason and other related professional and economic arguments that we implore the government not to hastily adopt and roll out Fatuma Chege’s report on CBC reforms.

Instead, the Ministry of Education should encourage curriculum experts, education economists, policymakers, resource persons and the public to ventilate on the new reforms before validating the report.

A majority demand that cobwebs be cleared in some segments of the report, especially on quality delivery of the content, supply of well-trained teachers, supply of standard teaching and learning tools, adequacy of continuous retraining of teachers and the financial implications for implementation of the new curriculum.

The validation processes is crucial in the sense that CBE is a framework for teaching and assessment of learning. This is a type of education based on predetermined ‘competencies’, which focuses on outcomes and real-world performance.

If the government’s focus is on the delivery of all-inclusive quality curriculum, and it considers CBC reforms to be the lifeline of the Kenyan child, then the Ministry of Education has no choice but to seriously seek the input of experts. Failure to subject the report to thorough public validation will undermine the entire curriculum reform process.

The CBC reforms report is not an end in itself, but the beginning of structured conversation by stakeholders, and eventual validation as it is the case with curriculum review processes in other parts of the world. 

It should be noted that every stage of curriculum review and the report generated must be subjected to public validation and approval so as to create a sense of ownership.

The curriculum is addressed from a multi-dimensional perspective and is considered a construct concept. The new paradigm of CBE is now lying at the base of all the recent reforms of school programmes in the pre-university education system, thus the reason educational experts and the public should be engaged at this defining moment to ventilate and validate the reforms.

For the sake of clarity, CBC has its origin in vocational education and training, which is particularly concerned with preparing students to acquire the competencies needed in their professions, and in contemporary society.

It is at this point that Kenyans need to ventilate Prof Chege’s report seriously, with a view to establishing how learners in pre-primary to Grade 12 would benefit from the new system of education.

And since CBE is a cluster of related knowledge, attitudes and skills that fulfil several criteria, we need to know how the concept will be rolled out in the present circumstances where public schools lack infrastructure, well-trained teachers and how the new system will be funded.

For instance, the Junior Secondary School (JSS) ought to have been domiciled in the primary section because then, they would only need classrooms for one grade.

It will be much more expensive if you domicile it in the Senior Secondary School because you will need classrooms for grades 7 and 8.

Proposed curriculum

If the JSS is domiciled in primary schools, we will only need about 23,000 extra classrooms for a start, but if you domicile it in the secondary section, you will need to put up about 66,000 extra classrooms.

What the Ministry of Education should have done is to customise CBC into the existing academic structure that is the 8-4-4; that is what other countries have done.

Thus, the CBC report should not be dictated to Kenyans – there must be evidence that every stage of the proposed curriculum is piloted with good results.

The economics of CBC must be discussed exhaustively, considering that the country’s economy is seriously ailing, to sustain the roll-out of the new education system.

We want an education system which is superior to 8-4-4 and 7-4-2-3, and it must be funded adequately. We are not ready for an education system whose cost is unknown. If CBE is not funded excessively, it will be worse than 8-4-4.

-Mr Sossion is a nominated MP and Knut Secretary General

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