Do not scrap CBC, enhance it, private teachers, university dons plead

Grade 4 pupils during a CBC practical exam.

Grade 4 pupils during a CBC practical exam. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Education professionals have urged President William Ruto not to scrap the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) but instead strengthen it and train all teachers to understand it.

President Ruto established an education reform task force last week to collect the views of Kenyans on the new curriculum. His administration announced plans to review CBC as it moves to address concerns raised by stakeholders.

But educationists from the private sector urged Dr Ruto to tap into the knowledge of educationists at universities to enhance the capacity of teachers who will deliver the curriculum.

Scrapping CBC will be catastrophic for Kenya as globally people are choosing outcome-based education that is equivalent to the CBC that Kenya is implementing, said Dr Jane Rarieya, the dean of the Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development.

“We take our children to train them for the world of work in the future. Employers are crying out that we are developing universities and churning out students who are not competent and cannot meet the demands of work today,” Dr Rarieya said.

“So why scrap the CBC? We need people who can lead the training of CBC and really and genuinely understand what it is, its demand and what teachers require in the classroom.”

Headteachers, she said, are lost on how to implement CBC and that this hinders the implementation of the education system. She added that teachers have a poor understanding of the curriculum.

She cited recent cases where learners were asked to go to school with chickens and others were instructed to swim in the soil, saying such theatrics are unnecessary.

“People have not discovered the beauty of CBC. It means developing competencies within learners. But our headteachers do not know how to lead the learning that comes out of CBC, their roles and how to support the teachers to do that,” she said.

“There’s a total lack of comprehension on how to implement and interpret the curriculum.”

But she said the Aga Khan University programme will help school managers overcome CBC challenges and further expose them to pedagogical methods of encouraging active learning.

This “will get rid of these funny things learners are learning under the education system,” Dr Rarieya added.

The Aga Khan University in Dar es Salaam has launched a two-year diploma programme in leadership targeting headteachers in Kenya. Some 30 headteachers from Kilifi and Mombasa have been selected for it.

“The programme is through blended learning. It is significant because during the pandemic, schools were shut down because people did not know how to implement learning. But this programme will help school managers develop skills to teach and learn online,” she said.

Dr Rarieya spoke during the launch of the Kenya Education Management Institute (KEMI) and the Aga Khan University Institute for Education Development Eastern Africa diploma in education leadership and management training at the Kenya School of Government in Mombasa.

She said the skills teachers are trying to develop in learners will enable them to be critical thinkers and problem solvers.

“This learning can be done anywhere under a tree or within the walls of a school. But these ridiculous things we are seeing [are] a real problem,” she said.

“I would not scrap CBC just because currently it is being implemented by a majority of people who do not understand it.”

Dr Rarieya said the problem facing Kenyan schools in implementing CBC is lack of understanding of the curriculum and how to interpret it. She urged universities and colleges to train teachers on how to interpret and implement the curriculum.

Other stakeholders also urged President Ruto to retain CBC, including Mr George Gitonga, the director of Fairfield Academy and the assistant secretary of the Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) Coast region chapter.

“CBC should be improved to be less costly to parents. The government should rethink the issue of children being taken to junior secondary schools. The big issue is the impact on the child,” Mr Gitonga said.

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