CBC can transform our country; ensure its successful implementation

Teachers admire the craft work of their grade 5 student during a learning session. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The visit by President William Ruto to Igembe in Meru County recently was significant for the competency-based curriculum (CBC) and in particular the Junior Secondary School (JSS) programme.

The need to have adequate resources, especially in terms of human capital to make CBC successful cannot be gainsaid. The government's decision to hire an additional 20,000 teachers, in addition to the 56,000 hired last year, is a timely move to support the success of this programme.

Ruto's visit coincided with the resumption of schools, a period that evokes both excitement and apprehension. Hopefully, the allocation of Sh60 billion for the education of all Kenyan children, as well as Sh7.5 billion for JSS, will not only alleviate concerns and fears but also motivate those tasked with midwifing the programme. Unlike other curriculums, CBC places great emphasis on the unique gifts and talents of each student and ensures that their achievements are not confined to a single performance or assessment. It disabuses the notion that a child's performance in a single exam can determine their success or failure in life. Instead, it encourages educators to recognise and celebrate the efforts and progress made by students throughout their learning journey.

This approach to measuring success may initially seem unconventional, as it deviates from the traditional grading system. However, in the fullness of time, Kenyans will appreciate what CBC can do in reengineering not only the education system but the transformation of this country.  Nonetheless, CBC has had teething challenges. For starters, the flexibility in assessing success certainly presents certain challenges that should not be taken lightly. One notable concern is the potential risk of limiting students' immense potential by not providing adequate structure or clear benchmarks.

In the absence of standardised assessments, it becomes challenging to accurately gauge a student's proficiency in comparison to their peers or to objectively identify areas for improvement. There is also the issue of gender-based performance discrepancies as certain subjects may be erroneously perceived as more suitable or accessible for a particular gender. To tackle these challenges, continuous retraining and professional development for educators is important. This will involve embracing and implementing alternative assessment methods such as captivating project-based assessments which can capture a student's unique abilities and potential.

Allocating specialised teachers to teach specific subjects can boost the quality of instruction and help make CBC a success. Presently, teachers may find themselves stretched thin, navigating subjects outside their areas of expertise. Unfortunately, this reality may inadvertently hinder the depth and effectiveness of instruction since teachers might lack requisite knowledge and skills to deliver content comprehensively. However, by embracing the concept of specialisation and assigning teachers who possess expertise in respective subjects, students will undoubtedly benefit from a more immersive, focused, and tailored learning experience.

As a creative who consumes the arts on a regular, we must not overlook the immense significance of music and art teachers in our school system. Music and art foster the creation of well-rounded individuals who possess an unmatched appreciation for the beauty of these art forms. By integrating music and art into the curriculum, our students are granted the opportunity to explore diverse forms of creativity, nurture their artistic prowess, and acquire an understanding of the value and impact of the arts. This holistic educational approach not only enriches their overall learning experience but also prepares them for a future that recognises and rewards creativity and innovation.

Overall, the introduction of CBC marks a progressive step towards addressing the dynamic needs of learners and the broader society. By focusing on developing competencies and skills alongside academic knowledge, CBC aims to prepare students not just for exams, but for life. It's therefore in the best interest of every Kenyan to support those tasked with its implementation to ensure the programme becomes a success.

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