Urgently align varsity teacher education with current syllabus

The most frequent criticism of Kenya's educational system is that it is inappropriate in scope and content.

Critics of the system have mostly had a socio-economic approach and have tended to draw a line between formal education and socio-economic advancement.

Philosophy of education is what drives its pillars in terms of designs, teaching pedagogy and methodology and formation of its general objectives. And so when we lose it at the philosophy level, the entire system fails.

Over time, there have been changes in the education curriculum in the quest to try and align it to the Kenyan Education Philosophy out of various gaps that were identified by the many working teams on education reforms. For instance, the Ndegwa Report of 1971 recommended the formation of boards of management at school level and district education boards to facilitate leadership in order to handle education matters better.

The Gachathi Commission of 1976 addressed the need to evaluate the education system and ensure that quality of education is achieved. This was followed by the Mackay Commission of 1981 that proposed the introduction of the 8-4-4 system. Still, there was a gap of quality, relevance and financing of education.

Then there came the Kamunge Commission which sought to address quality but more importantly, the need to properly finance education to realise international standards of quality. This commission recommended that finances in the education sector be enhanced and made lawful so that government handles it as an obligation and not a matter of privilege.

The Koech Commission of 1999 then sort to integrate quality education and training. That quality education can only be given by quality teachers. And that’s how the nation concentrated on an inclusive approach to developing Teacher Training Curriculum for Teacher Training Colleges with the aim of ensuring that teachers are able to handle the curriculum after thorough professional training.

Then came the Odhiambo Report of 2012 that recommended the introduction of CBC. Important to note is that there are standards and world practices that are conducted for changes in the curriculum to effectively be done; they include; analysing current teaching practices and learning goals, re-examining the links between goals and course design, reconsidering the role of assessment in the course, developing teaching strategies and approaches, exploring curricular questions, gathering data and brainstorming the ideal major. This is critical since it makes players and the affected in the curriculum implementation have a deep understanding of the reasons for change of curriculum. 

The question of whether or not the physical infrastructure of learning institution needs to be carried along in the changes is crucial. Take for instance the fact that CBC seeks to realign classrooms and stages of learning differently from what currently exists. PP1-PP2, grade 1-6, grade 7-9 and the grade 10-12 in foundational learning require classrooms to accommodate learning.

And the conversation that existed on the inception of CBC where classrooms were constructed in secondary schools and then these grades were taken to the primary sections of learning was a misplaced and a waste of public resources.

To ensure that teachers, who are implementers of the curriculum, are prepared to handle the changes, Knut undertook a research in 2019 called teacher preparedness. It came out that teachers were not involved in the initial reforms towards CBC.

The recommendations led to the Ministry of Education and the Teachers Service Commission to organise workshops and called them trainings. This did very little to address recommendations of the Koech Report (1999) proposing total integration of quality and training for teachers.

In 2025, the first CBC class will get to grade 10. This will be happening at a time when very little has been done in terms of training teachers in line with the proposed subject areas.

The current subject areas in CBC at both junior and senior school are not the ones being offered at university teacher education. Teacher trainees in universities are still being trained in the old subject areas. This must stop.

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