We don’t hate CBC, we just want its implementers to be realistic

Rock School Hazina

The Rock School Hazina Grade Three Pupils and their teachers clean Hazina market and roads in 2019.

Photo credit: Sammy Kimatu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • In theory, CBC is geared towards helping our children not only gain knowledge but also learn how to apply this knowledge in the practical world.
  • As the pioneer class transitions to Junior High next year, the process does not seem well coordinated or planned for and I think the first CBC class will be used experimentally.
  • Children are given tasks that parents have to take part in every other day. Most parents have professional or business work load and some work late.

When the government decided to replace the 8-4-4 curriculum with the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), the news was received with mixed reactions.

Key stakeholders, such as the Teachers Service Commission, the Institute of Curriculum Development, Teachers Training Colleges, School heads and teachers were heavily involved in the launch, roll-out and continuous implementation of CBC.

They were all allowed to express their concerns and share input in making the curriculum a reality.

However, the most important stakeholder was left out in the conversation, yet they seem to bear the biggest burden of implementing CBC; the parents.

Today, parents with children in different counties, from both public and private schools share their views on CBC, their understanding of the curriculum, their thoughts on the government’s performance so far and what should be improved:

Anngladys Gichuhi, Author, Life Coach and Publisher, Kiambu County

Anngladys Gichuhi

Anngladys Gichuhi, Author, Life Coach and Publisher, Kiambu County

Photo credit: Pool

My understanding of CBC is that it should build the child’s strong areas and also encourage wholesome development which includes psychological and psychosocial care. It should equip children with practical skills and test them on things that are applicable in real life.

CBC is different from 8-4-4 in that it does not just focus on academic performance, it builds skills through extra-curricular activities.

Learners are not ranked according to academic performance and there are no events where top academic performers are recognised and awarded as others take the role of spectators.

I think the government tried to explain to parents what CBC is all about through school meetings, but they did not do quite deliver as expected.

Most of what I know about this CBC is from fellow parents and sometimes through the homework brought home by my children, one is in Grade six and another one in PP2.

The same way government agencies send messages or build websites during campaigns or other programs, they should come up with proper communication channels to keep us voraciously updated.

It would help to keep a website or an information centre that parents can access.

That said, there are several things I like about CBC. The fact that children are taught life skills they can actually use -they learn things like how to take care of rabbits, how to grow plants, cook eggs and how to wash dishes.

That’s very practical and useful. I also like that the assignments they’re given encourage parent participation.

We get to bond with our children and know what they are doing in school. CBC is richer than 8-4-4 and it seems to borrow from the original curriculum.

Back in the day we would cut sisal and make ropes and baskets, use clay to make pots, burn them in a kiln and use them at home. We did metal work, woodwork and so many other things. It’s nice that CBC is going back to this system of education.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the government a 7 on the way the programs have been implemented. The implementation felt sudden.

It wasn’t as smooth as I would have expected. I wish we transitioned gradually. We’ve seen a few hitches and hiccups here and there but I think they have tried.

There are several changes I would recommend to make the curriculum better. The activities and assignments, for example, should be child-friendly and doable without over-relying on parents’ help.

I think a lot of assignments are meant for parents, not children. The curriculum should be learner-centred and the activities should be appropriate for the learner and the skills they will be tested for.

I’ve also noticed that CBC learners have a lot of homework and sometimes children have to sleep as late as 11pm.

Learning is a lifetime process. Pace the program so that children acquire these skills over time. Have nice lesson plans and ensure the work is nicely distributed so that there is balance.

Give them time to play, sleep and do other things. Children today do not have time for anything else, other than school. They need time to rest and just be children.

On ranking, I think the numbering system should be re-introduced. When they begin to transition to high school, they will still be placed according to their performance and so we can’t pretend that ranking does not exist.

I think it matters, how they performed and whether they are improving or not. Some learners work harder than others and failing to recognise their effort while lying to those who did not work hard is unfair.

I’ve heard of schools giving gifts to all the children- regardless of their performance and such practices do not encourage hard work. Make ranking legal and acceptable.

CBC is also relatively more expensive that 8-4-4. We need to know the true cost of CBC. Every day we are buying something for implementation.

Parents should be informed on what’s needed early enough and we should be given time to come up with the budget.

Lastly, CBC needs to be standardised in all schools. There are times when the differences in implementation make us wonder whether it is the same program in each school.

My biggest fear when it comes to next year’s transition is that these children are still too young. They are not mature, physically and mentally to handle the challenges that come with living on their own in a high school environment.

There are also concerns over mixing them with older children. I wish we had more schools dedicated CBC junior high or if the pioneers were allowed to stay within the same schools.

Also can the existing high schools manage the workload that comes with having more than four grades, are the classes ready? I don’t think the education sector is ready for the transition.

Gladys Kinyua, Journalist, Nakuru County

Gladys Kinyua

Gladys Kinyua, Journalist, Nakuru County.

Photo credit: Pool

I am a mother to a grade six pupil, the pioneer class for the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC).

And through his work, I believe CBC is meant to mould learners into practical, all-round adults, beyond the academic classwork.

In addition to class work, CBC also focuses on a child’s talents and capabilities. It’s quite different from the 8-4-4 system which focused on ranking learners according to their academic performance.

On the contrary, CBC gives every child a chance to prosper in whatever they are good at. This aspect of the curriculum is by far my favourite thing about it.

Every child has a talent that sets them apart from others, or they are just good at something- be it music or cooking.

The fact that CBC involves children in practical activities helps them become responsible people in the society.

Despite the wonderful perks CBC presents, there are a couple of challenges. For instance, as the pioneer parents, no one took the time to explain the curriculum and how it will be implemented to us.

Though some teachers went through training, and we were supposed to learn more about the curriculum from them, this didn’t become a reality on the ground. In fact, some of these teachers are still learning the curriculum as they go.

The cost of CBC is also quite high for parents. The activities children are involved in every week require parents to cough up money for different items. Today we are buying modelling clay, tomorrow we are printing. Some cannot afford these things and this creates inequality among learners.

Still, CBC is a good idea, if improvements are made. The government should fund and equip schools with whatever they need to implement the curriculum. This will help create equality among learners in different schools.

There is also need for more teachers to be trained on the curriculum, so that implementation is standardised. Overall, there is a lot of room for improvement which is why I would give the government a rating of 6/10.

Wangu Ngunjiri, Civil Engineer, Nairobi County

Wangu Ngunjiri,

Wangu Ngunjiri, Civil Engineer, Nairobi County

Photo credit: Pool

In theory, CBC is geared towards helping our children not only gain knowledge but also learn how to apply this knowledge in the practical world.

This is in contrast to the previous 8-4-4 system which focused on attaining a certain academic mark. 8-4-4 had no way of measuring how well the children could translate academic knowledge to practical work.

I think the CBC represents the promise that our education system may well be on the path to great improvement. As a nation we have expressed dissatisfaction with the previous school system.

Hopefully as all the implementation kinks are ironed out of CBC, schools will produce people who will be better adapted for the ever-changing work and career demands.

My biggest issue by far with the CBC is the over involvement of parents in children's homework. In my opinion, homework would be more meaningful if it was geared towards helping the children improve on their talents.

It should be easy for them to complete without relying on the parent's extra input. One of the 7 core competencies of this curriculum is self-efficacy. Why then is there such great emphasis on parents' input?

Also, the cost of implementing the curriculum placed on parents is ridiculous. In the previous system, text books were handed down to younger siblings.

In this system however, text books are single use for every child, meaning a parent has to keep buying the same textbooks for the younger children. The curators of this system clearly had no consideration for the parents in devising learning materials.

In order to improve the curriculum, parents should be allowed to participate in the formulation stage rather than expecting them to implement a system that completely ignores their concerns.

Also, the cost of books should be brought down. If the children have to write one their textbooks, then exercise books should be scrapped off.

Otherwise, text books should remain as reference books that can be passed on to other learners. Another CBC element, I believe should be scrapped is homework.

After spending the entire day in school, plus several hours commuting to and fro’, children should be allowed to play, relax and pursue other interests.

As we bid goodbye to the 8-4-4 system, one useful element that CBC can borrow is the grading of students. I think it's important that the learners learn how to win and lose gracefully.

Finally, my biggest fear on the looming transition to Junior high school is the lack of facilities to cater for these children.

There is a lot of confusion along stakeholders on what additions they need to have in place to accommodate the new curriculum.

I also worry that our teachers are yet to be adequately trained and equipped with the skills they need to ensure our children get the most out of CBC in high school.

Joy Nasimiyu, Communication Professional, Nairobi County

Joy Nasimiyu,

Joy Nasimiyu, Communication Professional, Nairobi County.

Photo credit: Pool

I joined the list of CBC parents just recently and so far; I understand that with the curriculum parents are more involved in their children’s education. My child is in PP1.

I don’t think parents, who are the key stakeholders in the education sector were engaged during the introduction of CBC and this makes it difficult for us to understand the new curriculum.

For instance, the new grading system is not clear. There is a lot of confusion on how CBC should be implemented and this worries me as a parent.

As the pioneer class transitions to Junior High next year, the process does not seem well coordinated or planned for and I think the first CBC class will be used experimentally.

Regardless, there are certain aspects of CBC that seem beneficial. I like the fact that schools no longer focus on how well a student can answer questions.

This gives a fair chance to everyone. I still think we should continue with the curriculum because the concept is very beneficial to learners.

Besides, we are still in the early stages of implementation and we might have to give it more time and trust the process. However, the ministry needs to inspire confidence in parents by proving they know what they are doing.

If I was to change a few things in the curriculum, I would reduce the burden parents bear when it comes to practical activities.

Children are given tasks that parents have to take part in every other day. Most parents have professional or business work load and some work late.

Involving them in daily practical activities is not possible. I also liked the fairness in the 8-4-4 grading system and I wish that could be incorporated in CBC. My ranking for the implementation so far would be four out of 10.