We’re not ready for new curriculum, says Amina

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

It is now official. The much hyped rollout of the new Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) will not happen next month.

The decision announced yesterday by Education Cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed means the learners will have to endure the current 8-4-4 that was supposed to be phased out for another year because any curriculum changes can only happen at the beginning of the academic year.

It also means the pilot classes that had already been introduced into learning framework — 2-6-6-3 —  that was conceptualised, designed and developed by Peter Hall Jones, a former British nursery school teacher, will be reverted to the 8-4-4.

Appearing before the Margaret Kamar-led Senate committee on Education and Research , Amina said the launch of the programme was rushed, adding that it needs to be halted to allow for extensive stakeholder consultation before being rolled out.

She, however, explained that no one will be affected as all the pupils in grades One and Two who were in the pilot project will continue using the 8-4-4 system.

“We will not roll out the new curriculum in January because we must hold a conference before then. As of now, we are not completely ready to roll it out,” said Amina.

She added that the move has also been necessitated by other factors among them inadequate training of teachers, training materials and  supporting infrastructure.

Part of the infrastructures that they require to overhaul include phasing out of the current desks being used by the pupils and introducing the use of tables.

“We cannot roll out in January because we must have a conference with all stakeholders where we can all agree on the timetable of roll out so that we can make sure that everything is in place , enough teachers are trained, infrastructure is in place and we have programmes for in-service of teachers being followed,” said the CS.

Amina told the committee that initially when she took over the ministry, she was ready to launch the new programme, but after careful examination of books and materials availed to her, she was convinced that they are not ready to proceed with the exercise as the quality of the CBC is not good.

“The CBC design and the policy is good but let me say this, the devil is in the detail of implementation and therefore this process cannot be rushed until we are ready,” she added.

The  decision that is likely to jolt those picked by his predecessor Fred Matiang’i, who had a tsunamic approach to the issue, is an indicator that she prefers a slow but sure implementation of the  new curriculum to “carry the country along”.

Her decision is bound to resonate well with Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary general  Wilson Sossion, who had opposed the hurried implementation of the competence-based curriculum.

And hours later, after her announcement before the Senate committee, a statement from the ministry said the CBC will only be launched after the holding of a national stakeholder conference on the proposed curriculum reform.

It quoted her saying the ministry will carefully study internal and external evaluator reports  to provide the setting for discussions at  the national conference to ensure alignment of all the components that are crucial to successful roll-out of the CBC.

Some of the key findings from the preliminary report tabled showed that overall quality of CBC implementation, based on international benchmarks, was 56 per cent. The minimum threshold set out for global standards for such an exercise is 50 per cent.

Amina, who was accompanied to the committee by her Principal secretary for  Basic Education Dr Belio Kipsang and Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) chief executive Dr Julius Jwan, said she decided to postpone the process after reviewing a report of an internal evaluator.

The CS said arising out of the findings, she ordered for another evaluation exercise by external evaluator, who has been holding discussions with various stakeholders including KICD, Teachers Service Commission(TSC) and teacher unions.

Belio, on the other hand, allayed any fears on what some said would be unfair return of the pilot learners being pushed back to the old system saying those affected were only in grade one and two and not grade three.

“Technically, nobody is going to grade four in this curriculum we only have class one and two.  So there should be no problem at all,” he added.

Dr Jwan also clarified that the return to the old system will not have any challenges because in the early years children only acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills.

“When you talk of early years all you acquire is basic literacy and numeracy skills. Why is there this perception that some people are moving from somewhere to another huge thing somewhere else which is not the case. I mean competence-based curriculum is just teachers supplying their pedagogy differently. It has nothing like moving from here to somewhere else,” he said.

And senators present including Kamar, Okong’o Omogeni (Nyamira) and Sam Ongeri (Kisii) welcomed the move saying it was wrong to experiment with children. Matiang’i launched The pilot programme was launched by Matiang’i in April last year.

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