The ongoing curriculum reforms have dominated public debate in the past weeks with opinion sharply divided over the efficacy of the implementation. The debate is healthy and should be encouraged.
Conceptually, the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) is a novelty. Its centrepiece is the imparting of knowledge and skills. Further, it allows flexibility with the understanding that learners have innate abilities and interests that should be fostered through education.
This is a departure from the current 8-4-4 system, which, though initially conceived as practical-based learning, evolved to become essentially a cognitive-oriented model. Moreover, it’s rigid and hardly allows learners to make choices and pursue their areas of interest.
Even so, the implementation of CBC seems to be dogged with numerous challenges. Which is hardly surprising: Every initiative suffers teething problems at inception and the success depends on the level of preparedness to address them.
In 2019, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha set up a task force to advise the government on implementation of the curriculum. The team chaired by Prof Fatuma Chege conducted public participation and compiled a report that it submitted to President Kenyatta in February.
Prof Chege has since been appointed principal secretary for the new State Department for Implementation of Curriculum Reforms, which should implement the report.
At the weekend, the National Assembly’s Committee on Education asked the Education ministry and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development to respond to the public’s concerns. This is vital.
Some of the issues raised are teacher preparedness, teaching and learning resources, pedagogy, parental involvement, testing and transition. The success of the new curriculum depends on implementation of the task force report, which provides robust guidance on these issues.