How the CBC praise-singers miss the point

A new CBC classroom

A new CBC classroom at Allidina Visram High School in Mombasa which will host the junior secondary school students.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The piloting and official rollout of the competency-based curriculum (CBC) did attract and continue to stir mixed reactions across the country. In fact, it has become a polarising factor pitting those who support it against its critics.

But things need not be this way; a healthy conversation should suffice. Instructively, the ongoing shouting match, coupled with lack of a common understanding of the problem at hand, will only worsen a bad situation.

Of note are two entities who seem to be working against the whole thing. First are the sycophantic praise singers, who will see no evil and hear no evil. For them, any CBC critic is an enemy of development. This lot only looks at the supposed benefits of the curriculum, forgetting that such outcomes are premised on input. You will hear them sing of how CBC will help our children to think, create jobs, be morally upright and many such goodies. But they forget that critics (often labelled ‘busybodies’) are more interested in the means through which we shall achieve all those goodies.

The second lot are education reporters. Instructively, there is a reason why an individual chooses to specialise in reporting on certain issues. Among them is sound knowledge in the chosen field. Whereas they are free to report what they chance upon, an additional commentary on the report, in form of clarification of issues, would do. Instructively, most of the issues initially raised by critics, but drowned by the reporters’ beautiful accounts of CBC, are coming home to roost.

Lack of clarity

Recently, it was reported that some middle-class parents are taking their children to schools which offer the international curriculum after sensing lack of clarity in CBC. Whereas there was some truth in the report, the author failed to realise that most middle-class parents can’t afford fees paid in the said schools. They are actually victims of the new confusion, often grumbling quietly while they feign indifference. They are no different from the politicos who are studiously silent on the system.

Please let the critics be. Asking whether our teachers are well trained (not only cognitively but attitudinally) isn’t far-fetched. Further, it’s not criminal to ask if the few available teachers will properly implement a system that requires much individual learner attention. Teachers mean everything. We must keep asking, just to be sure that the rush in the preparation of curriculum designs (now at the 10th Grade) isn’t vendor-driven. Profiteers are real. Further, quality is paramount.

We must be sure that private schools cashing in on stranded parents have their teachers trained on CBC. Let’s ask if all regions have enough day schools and, if not, whether the additional one-classroom-per school is enough to accommodate a whole cohort of Grade Seven, and if they will sleep in classrooms for the case of boarding schools.

Mr Osabwa is a lecturer at Alupe University College, Busia. [email protected].