One person by the name E.M Forster asserted: “Failure or success by men seem to have been allocated to them by their stars. But they retain the power of wriggling and in the whole universe the only really interesting movement is this wriggle.”
Watching and listening to the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Prof George Magoha, lambast individuals who are raising pertinent questions about the implementation of the new Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), one gets the impression that his attempt at wriggling out of the pressure piling up on his ministry on this matter is not convincing. His calling such critics busybodies does not help the situation. Even they have children in school who are undergoing CBC. They are, therefore, stakeholders.
One would expect top policymakers to come up with competently reasoned out and articulated answers in matters CBC; the “competency” in CBC should be seen to run from the top to the bottom of the ministry.
That leads to questions like, what happened to the communication unit of the ministry? The police, military and parastatals all have spokespeople or directors of communication. Why not this ministry? And why doesn’t the principal secretary in charge of implementing CBC, Prof Fatuma Chege, play this role? Is she wriggling out of her assignment?
I am not dismissing CBC as a bad curriculum; I am raising concerns at the direction that public discourse on this matter is taking. I suggest that the ministry responds to questions below and those that will arise from time to time in order to bring the discussion back on track and possibly avoid litigation as contemplated by some interested parties.
At the primary school level, the major issues centre on, first, parental involvement in doing homework. How can parents who work far from home assist their children? Secondly, the use of expensive gadgets as learning and teaching aids is a challenge to many. What are students without them expected to do?
Thirdly, teacher preparedness. Whereas some progress has been made on this front, a lot needs to be done to raise the confidence levels of the teachers to handle these subjects.
The fourth concern is about funding. CBC is more practical-oriented than the 8-4-4 system at this level. To what extent will the government provide funds for teaching aids and what is the expected parental contribution?
At the secondary school level, it is becoming increasingly clear that schools have not done much to prepare for 2023, when they will receive the first batch of CBC students. First, the president directed that the students at the junior secondary level be domiciled in secondary schools.
However, remarks attributed to some senior ministry officials suggest that a portion of these students will be hosted in primary schools. Has a circular to this effect been released? What are the roles of the county education boards and school boards of management on this matter?
Secondly, with an increase of student numbers by 27 per cent in 2023 and a similar number in 2024, what arrangements have been made to provide infrastructure for them? A recent survey by the ministry revealed that a whopping 3,000 secondary schools do not have laboratories. What proportion of the requisite funding will be from the government and parents, respectively?
Thirdly, capitation. Every secondary school will increase by two grades — from Junior Secondary One and Senior Secondary Three. The government will have to budget for this vote. Fourthly, the complicated matter of transition from junior to senior secondary. Will there be flexibility for students to change schools in a situation that their junior school does not offer subjects in their preferred pathway? What are the criteria for that?
Fifth is the concern that teachers graduating from university should have an orientation on CBC. What are university councils doing to adjust their curriculum appropriately?
The CS ought to assure all of a smooth implementation of CBC. Information flow from Jogoo House needs to be constant and timely. There can’t be any wriggling out of this.
[email protected] @BSogomo