History has demonstrated that conflict is an inevitable component of change. This is what is happening in the debate on the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).
The curriculum is a new dawn for the present and future generations as it prepares children for a much practical and realistic life.
But such a transformation ought to be introduced with minimal force and in a relatively smooth way. Even though Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has the mandate of exercising disciplinary control over teachers, the commission’s task, among others, is to advise the government on matters related to the teaching profession.
Actions such as interdiction of teachers are a clear sign of sidelining the commission’s core mandate. Additionally, failing to recognise that the conflict between the Ministry of Education and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) need a sober discussion is a sign of prejudice against teachers.
Instead, it reveals irrational conformity to the perceived superiority of the ministry. To end the current stalemate, TSC’s role as a mediator is paramount.
A worthwhile solution will require the commission to have a more balanced approach to disseminating its core functions. For instance, the ministry would have recognised that CBC rollout is being done much faster than the capability of teachers to adjust to the new system, given the training was no more than a mere induction.
In fact, no sooner was the short training concluded than the TSC began accusing teachers, some who did not even attend the training, of disobedience.
In a country where resources are scarce, CBC will be unanimously embraced if its integration is gradual rather than an immediate substitution of the current course.
Teachers are opposed to the manner in which the new curriculum is being implemented. But as long as the commission turns a deaf ear to Knut grievances, even good intentions by the ministry will be interpreted as a threat to teachers.
It should be remembered that in the context of successful CBC rollout, there will be neither winners nor losers. Instead, the society at large will enjoy the fruit of a tedious struggle.
True victory will only be realised when both sides close up the space between them and pursue a clearheaded debate. On such a matter of national importance, a new version of “Handshake” is needed.
But even if the bitter exchange does not find a solution soon, it is hoped that innocent children will be spared devastating effects of a blatant coercion.
As the country hopes to join the world’s best education systems, the society is looking upon TSC to intercede on its behalf. A simple step of harmonising its core functions will save the situation in the long run.In our quest for a new curriculum, we have swum oceans. Why should we now drown in ponds? —The writer is Master’s student at Pwani University