Cost and time factors weighing down CBC system, say parents
Parents in rural areas have confessed to having challenges with some of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) assignments given to their children.
They also decried “many hidden costs” in implementing the new curriculum, “making an already tough financial situation even harder”.
Parents interviewed said the cost of printing assignments for their children had turned the curriculum into a burden.
Last week, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha directed public schools to use projectors instead of asking learners to print assignment materials to cut on costs.
“If there is anything to be printed, let it be projected. It will be cheaper for the teacher to capture it and project and cheaper for parents too. Let printing be optional,” Prof Magoha said.
In Mombasa, many parents protested the high cost of the system.
Hellen Odipo, a mother of a Grade Five child at Khadija Primary School, said one of the assignments to her daughter required her to print copies of pictures of mountains.
“That time we went to a cyber café and it cost me almost Sh300. A few days later she came with instructions to print a picture of a mushroom and later a photo of Adam and Eve,” Odipo told People Daily at Khadija Primary where she had attended a parents’ meeting.
“CBC is very good. The only problem is that the expenses keep on increasing.
For a parent like me who has no stable income, where will I get between Sh300 to Sh500 for such expenses every week?” asked Odipo.
Jane Gona said she can’t read and write hence won’t understand assignments given to her children in Grades Four and Five.
“I am sorry I did not go to school but what I know is we have spent a lot more than it used to be and money is difficult to get,” Gona said.
Khadija Primary head teacher declined to comment on the progress of implementing the curriculum, saying they were under instructions not to talk to the media.
“If you need more information please get an approval letter from the director of education and I will be happy to share whatever you need,” the school head said.
But teachers dismissed claims the curriculum is expensive. They claimed some parents just do not want to be involved in their children learning process.
“Sometimes the students are required to enquire about family matters, say the extended family, but family members are not ready to show them their relatives. CBC is not that expensive,” said a senior teacher.
On whether they are required to produce copies of photos and art in print, the teachers said it was part of introducing learners to technology.
Parents in the North Rift also complained they were struggling to implement the curriculum due to inadequate infrastructure.
“It seems the government was not adequately prepared to roll out the curriculum,” said Nicholas Koross, a parent in Baringo.
Parents cited an assignment where they are required to visit a shopping centre, “preach and take photos of themselves” as one of the most “ridiculous”.
“This curriculum is very expensive and too demanding on parents. First, it assumes all children have both parents or live with a parent,” said Joseph Owoi, a parent in Turkana.
They said implementation of CBC in remote places like Turkana or Marsabit will not be easy owing to poor network coverage and nomadism.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials in the North Rift, led by Uasin Gishu branch Executive Secretary Sammy Bor and his Baringo counterpart Joshua Cheptarus, said CBC is a good idea but the implementers did not foresee the challenges being witnessed.
“It seems they did not consider issues such as parents involvement. The government did not consider teacher training and provision of adequate facilities related to the execution of this curriculum,” Bor said.
In Nakuru, parents cited high costs and inefficiency of CBC and urged the Ministry of Education to make changes to the curriculum. They said the system had become too expensive with schools demanding projects that require money.
Veronicah Nyambura, who has a grandchild in Grade One, said the cost of the projects was too high, adding that she was spending a lot on assignments in addition to school fees.
“I am the only guardian to my granddaughter after my daughter passed on and I can tell you some of the things they bring home as assignments is overwhelming,” said Nyambura.
She said she has had to adjust her working hours to help her granddaughter with assignments.
“The last time she was assigned to make a shaker which requires wires, sticks and bottle tops. It was difficult assembling the materials,” she said.
Justus Mwangi, a single parent, said it is difficult for some parents to help with assignments owing to pressure of work. He added that some parents do not have smartphones and or money to fund some of the projects.
“We sometimes have to hire specialists to do our projects and we pay them since we don’t have the time. Sometimes the child fails to understand the skills we intended to impart on them,” said Mwangi.
In Kisumu, parents are slowly adjusting to their new role under CBC but agree the cost of implementing it is too high.
Janet Oriwa, a parent with three children in a private school in Kisumu town, said the implementation of the new system means parents have to reorganise their schedules to attend to their children’s learning needs.
Oriwa said CBC is not only involving to parents and children but is also costly.
George Kapiyo said parents were finding it difficult adjusting to the requirements of CBC. He said most parents were financially constrained, especially with the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, and could not, therefore, meet requirements of CBC.
Meanwhile, union officials have faulted Magoha over the directive that public schools use projectors as a cost-cutting measure.
Knut Homa Bay branch chairman Patrick Were said the directive was ill-advised as schools were not prepared to use such gadgets to deliver CBC lessons.
He said most schools face infrastructure challenges, including electricity, making such a directive difficult to implement. He added that many teachers were not familiar with the use of projectors.—Compiled by Reuben Mwambingu, Wycliff Kipsang, Roy Lumbe and Noven Owiti