What you need to know:
- MPs approved a resolution to press the government to address the many challenges plaguing the new system of education that replaced the nearly four-decades-old 8-4-4 system.
- The MPs also want all public primary schools allowed to host JSS to address overcrowding.
- Lungalunga MP Mangale Munga said the first step to implement CBC ought to have been the preparation of teachers.
Members of Parliament have called on the government to speedily address challenges plaguing the competency-based curriculum (CBC) or else abolish it altogether.
The National Assembly suspended business to discuss teething problems they said have hindered the smooth implementation of the curriculum, six years after its roll-out, and which were exposed largely by the transition last month of the first CBC cohort to Junior Secondary School (JSS).
MPs approved a resolution to press the government to address the many challenges plaguing the new system of education that replaced the nearly four-decades-old 8-4-4 system, whose last group of learners will sit Standard Eight and Form Four national examinations this December.
Such is the lack of confidence in the new system that a scandal has unravelled in which some parents, keen to have their children avoid JSS, are bribing head teachers for their children to join the Standard Eight and register for this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam.
The Ministry of Education has since ordered an investigation into the scandal that involves falsifying student records.
Debating an adjournment motion sponsored by Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma on Tuesday, the lawmakers lamented that the CBC is being rushed without proper infrastructure and staffing to facilitate learning.
MPs from the ruling Kenya Kwanza Alliance and opposition Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party closed ranks in their criticism of CBC, regretting that it has widened the class divide between learners from poor backgrounds and those from well-to-do families.
The MPs called on the Ministry of Education to either put the necessary infrastructure in place, especially for JSS or abolish CBC entirely and revert to the 8-4-4 that it replaced.
The MPs also want all public primary schools allowed to host JSS to address overcrowding.
To actualise this, Mbeere North MP Geoffrey Kiringa has sponsored a motion to develop a comprehensive JSS policy in order to regularise and anchor the guidelines of the Basic Education Act, 2012.
The move will see JSS established in every primary school. The motion further seeks to develop a framework for a funding plan for the successful implementation of the curriculum.
Implementation of CBC, the MPs noted, has been hindered by the fact that the teachers recently deployed to teach in JSS have not been inducted on the curriculum. The MPs said there is no meaningful learning going on despite the new uniforms for Grade Seven learners.
“If the ministry cannot listen to these challenges and address them to the benefit of the people, I would wish, as a House, we resolve to stop this CBC and continue with an education that gives meaning to the children of the poor people,” Mr Kaluma said.
Majority Whip Silvanus Osoro said CBC was not in the Kenya Kwanza manifesto, terming it a “set-up” for the new administration. Deputy Majority Whip Naomi Waqo said CBC is expensive and tedious and that more time needs to be given to both parents and teachers before its full implementation.
Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba questioned why the Jubilee administration rushed to implement CBC against an advisory by education stakeholders.
“I don’t know the motivation that was there in the government of the day to rush and mess a generation by hurriedly implementing a system without a proper framework,” she said.
Lungalunga MP Mangale Munga said the first step to implement CBC ought to have been the preparation of teachers.
Deputy Majority Leader Owen Baya, however, opposed the idea of abolishing CBC and instead challenged the House to allocate adequate resources to address the challenges hindering the success of the new system.
He was supported by Emuhaya MP Omboko Milemba, who warned the House against abolishing the CBC system, saying, it will affect learners who have already gone through it.
Lugari MP Nabii Nabwera said CBC cannot be bastardised just because it is facing challenges.
“Why do we want to kill a system that will change our lives and give us a competitive edge in the world?” Mr Nabwera posed.
Gilgil MP Martha Wangari said calling for the improvement of the system should not be seen that they are fighting the government, maintaining that their opposition was based on what leaders encounter on the ground.
Seme MP James Nyikal termed the CBC concept as timely only that it was beset by poor planning in implementation.
In the Senate, members warned of a looming crisis if the government does not move with speed to address challenges facing the roll-out of JSS. Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, in a request for a statement, said they wanted to know the state of transition of learners to JSS across the country.
The Senate Education Committee headed by Mr Joe Nyutu (Murang’a) was tasked to appraise the Senate on the number of learners who have transitioned to JSS, stating the challenges faced by the Ministry of Education in ensuring 100 per cent transition.
The committee should also explain the current state of learning in JSS, including the development and extent of the roll-out and listing the subjects taught. It should further inform the Senate on the process of book distribution to public JSS across the country, indicating whether accredited private schools have the approved books and are offering the approved syllabus.
This is in addition to stating what happens to JSS classrooms that were built in secondary schools following the directive by President William Ruto to have JSS domiciled in primary schools on the recommendation by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms.
Further, they want the government to disclose the number of contractors engaged in the construction of the new JSS blocks, identify those who have been paid and the amount owed to the remaining contractors as well as the number of teachers recruited and deployed to JSS and the current deficit nationwide.
Lastly, the committee should ascertain whether the new directive to ban boarding schools has been implemented and whether JSS will also be affected. Nominated Senator Beatrice Oyomo said schools are experiencing challenges with a lack of teachers.
“What the senators have raised are pertinent issues because the fear is that teachers were posted to JSS but we know they are trained in particular subjects and not to take care of the whole class,” she said.
Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale called upon all elected leaders to pressurise the government over the issue as the current challenges are threatening to “kill an entire generation”.
“In the primary school, I went to in the village, I found that only one teacher was posted to teach the entire class. This is not possible. If we don’t speak about it then we will soon be having Grade Six dropouts,” he said.
Senator Nyutu warned of a looming crisis in the transition because, up to last December, JSS was to be domiciled in secondary schools but the task force recommended that the learners remain in primary schools because of their age.
This, he said, caught primary schools off-guard as they were unprepared to handle JSS curriculum. However, he added, Teachers Service Commission boss Nancy Macharia had assured his committee that teachers who were teaching in secondary schools before, especially those with diplomas, and those in primary schools with degrees will be posted to JSS.