CBC is a pragmatic solution to unemployment

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020 00:00 | By
Pupils in class. Photo/Courtesy

Unemployment is and remains one of the biggest challenges facing many countries.

Research carried out by the International Labour Organisation earlier this year reveals that an overwhelming 267 million young people aged 15-24 are not in employment, education or training.

This trend can be attributed to a myriad factors including unsustainable economies that do not favor job creation, flexible career paths and rapid growth of the labour force. 

Skill imbalance resulting from misplaced college courses not ideal for current job market and an outdated education system that does not support learner acquisition of entrepreneurial, technical and vocational skills are also contributing factors.

The majority is studying careers laden with theoretical knowledge that has little or no relation to actual activities or tasks they anticipate to face on the job. 

In turn, employers continue to be cynical about jobseeker’s ability to supply knowledge and skills to practical challenges at the workplace.

The situation is worsened by the fact that employers not only question social skills and work ethics, but are also reluctant to invest resources in training jobseekers whereas there are many experienced workers who are unemployed and available for hire.

Governments have revolutionised education and curriculum from theoretical to practical known as Competency Based Education (CBE) and devised a Competence Based Curriculum (CBC).

While CBE and CBC may appear novel in Kenya, its idea dates back to 1957 in the US.

It was developed as a reactionary policy to Soviet Union’s technological advancement following the launch of the first satellite.

In Australia, it was introduced in 1990 to address weaknesses in skills level as the country turned to technology as the backbone of its economy. 

In Africa, CBE and CBC was pioneered by South Africa in 1998 to change attitudes of her people, and equip them with skills, understanding and personal attributes fit for confounding issues in the 21st century.

This trend continues to be emulated across Africa as countries such as Rwanda and Kenya rolled out their CBC in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

This new education system is designed to develop learners’ full capacities by impressing on them value of lifelong learning even as they are equipped with skillsets on technology, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

In Kenya, the impetus for education and curriculum reform was the 8-4-4 system, which is too rigid, theoretical and out-of-sync with job market demands and fails to align basic education with children’s career interests, aptitudes and abilities.

It was also in recognition of a global drift towards a knowledge-based economy that demands a flexible education system adaptable to a dynamic labour market.

Three years after their launch,they are lauded as more practical oriented: skills-based and tailored to daily life and work environment.

The shift promises to make our labour force competitive globally as learners increasingly focus on 21st century skills: a) lifelong learning, b) creativity and innovation, c) communication and digital literacy, d) critical thinking and problem solving, and e) market-oriented skills.

Our learning institutions, from basic to vocational and higher education, continue to embrace competency-based education and training (CBET) forcing a shift away from knowledge memorisation toward development of competencies and skills.

This shift is focused to address skills mismatch that long impeded smooth school-to-work transitions for many young people.

It has introduced several industry-customised short period courses to enable learners and employers to get competencies and skills they urgently need and mode of delivery allows for furthering studies with multiple entry and exit in different programmes. — The writer is the Chief Administrative Secretary Ministry of Education

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