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Why State should listen to criticism on CBC

By Francis Atwoli | September 19th 2021

Since the government rolled out the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) on January 3, 2019 there have been serious concerns from major partners including trade unions, teachers, parents and academicians.

This disquiet has been exacerbated by the dogmatism from the government where they have either turned a deaf ear on the many voices or concerns over the new curriculum.
Understandably, the resolve and will by the government to roll out the system is due to the huge financial commitments made.
However, from the onset, I would like to state that CBC is a good system of education that as a country we should, one day, aspire to have. But as things stand, it is not workable. CBC, as is, is not the magic bullet to challenges of 8.4.4 system.

As much as there is serious need to move from knowledge-based systems of learning towards skill-based systems, to align with the various visions and agendas in and out of the continent, in doing so, we must always remember that at the core of any education system is promoting equality, equity and providing quality education.

For that reason, any education model that doesn’t take those issues into account should not be considered. However, this is not to say that at the core of CBC these issues are not taken into consideration.
But for CBC to work, the government needs to, first, invest heavily in the learning environment. It is near impossible to implement CBC with a pupil-teacher ratio of approximately 56:1. Ideally, CBC requires a pupil-teacher ratio of about 20:1 at the maximum.

Second, is the reality that many schools not only lack enough classrooms but also lack facilities to make education conducive.
Third, the investment, financial and emotional, required from parents and the government is too much to implement this system now.

Many parents are still struggling to make ends meet after losing on employment as a result of Covid-19 while those with jobs are not paid enough to meet up the expectations of this otherwise beautiful education system.

The reality is not all Kenyan homes have electricity, smartphones or printers to conduct some of the assignments required by the CBC.

The economic assumptions underlying the CBC make it nothing short of ridiculous if anyone were to look at it vis a vis our socio-economic realities.
Much later when we have enough teachers; invested in the learning environment; understand why we want to educate our children and when the economy has grown and parents are being remunerated well, we can implement the CBC.
And when that time comes, we should focus on the philosophy behind CBC and not the practice. This would mean thinking about making CBC more African.

As currently adopted, the CBC is foreign and doesn’t take into stock our socio-economic realities.

Cotu secretary general

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