You have a month to give views on education reform

Grade Five pupils at DEB Primary School in Elburgon, Nakuru County perform a topical and patriotic song

Grade Five pupils at DEB Primary School in Elburgon, Nakuru County perform a topical and patriotic song during a Music Assessment in the Competency-Based Curriculum on February 9, 2022. 

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

Kenyans have one month to submit their views on changes they would like to see in the education sector as the team appointed last month started its engagement with the public.

Within the one month, parents, teachers, administrators, students, religious leaders and other interested parties will present their views on education reforms in basic, tertiary and university education.

The chair of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms Prof Raphael Munavu invited the submissions through a press advertisement yesterday.

The team is open to views from individuals, public and private institutions and any other interested parties. The team is also expected to tour the country to collect views from the public.

The views should be submitted by way of written memoranda, letters or research papers. They should be addressed to the chairperson of the reforms team and hand-delivered to their office on the 10th Floor of Absa Towers, Loita Street, Nairobi, or by email or post.

President William Ruto formed the 49-member team to recommend changes to the education system. From the terms of reference gazetted by the President, much focus will be on basic education, where the implementation of the competency-based curriculum (CBC) has drawn mixed reactions since it was rolled out in 2019.

According to an insider, the Kenya Kwanza government seeks to blend the 8-4-4 system of education that is being phased out, with competency and value-based education, which are the core of CBC.

Many parents have complained about the amount and nature of homework their children are given, as well as parental involvement in learning. Equally, apprehension abounds about preparations for transition to junior secondary school, which is only two months away.

The shift of emphasis from standardised examinations to school-based formative assessments has also received mixed reactions, with many parents still unsure of how their children will be placed in junior secondary in January. 

The working party was appointed by the president on September 29 and given six months within which to work and submit its recommendations. It is, however, expected to issue Dr Ruto with progress reports every two months.

The team is made up of professionals from different fields. However, teachers and lecturers’ unions and associations were left out. All the same, they have expressed willingness to present their views.

“We must undertake a summative evaluation that answers our most important questions and resolves the contradictions, overlaps and other inefficiencies holding us back from the promise of a more robust performance,” Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said last week when he inaugurated the team.

At the end of its induction on Friday, the working party divided itself into committees to handle the various issues expected to be raised.

“Tell us the truth. Raw as it is and don’t look back. We’re not interested in being praised and being told what we want to hear. Listen to the people of Kenya and come up with a report that will reflect what Kenyans want and what they feel, however bitter it is,” Mr Gachagua said.

Outgoing Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha challenged members of the working party to avoid being politically correct, but be bold and rigorous in their work.

“When you’re doing an experiment, you don’t do an experiment whose answer you already know.” Prof Magoha said. 

Yesterday the Cabinet nominee for Internal Security Prof Kithure Kindiki said the curriculum review would be used to socialise children to adopt positive values “because the drug menace has cascaded to young sections of the population and only the education system can be used to instil positive moral values”.

In basic education, stakeholders will give suggestions on an appropriate structure to implement the CBC as well as governance of the basic education sub-sector. Opinion is divided among Kenyans over the change of structure from 8-4-4 to the 2-6-6-3 on which CBC is anchored.

Other issues targeted for scrutiny in basic education include value-based education, community service learning, parental empowerment and engagement.

Stakeholders in tertiary education will give views on governance and financing framework for technical and vocational education training, university education, research and training as well as governance in tertiary education.

Prof Magoha termed university education as “the sick child in the room” owing to the current financial and management challenges public universities are grappling with.

“I hope you’re not even thinking of combining the University Funding Board with Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) because Helb goes beyond universities,” said Prof Magoha.

Prof Munavu and his team are expected to suggest a framework of operationalising the National Open University of Kenya that the Kenya Kwanza government has promised to establish, as well as a framework for open, distance and e-learning.