Examiner mulls changes in CBC final test format

Friday, June 3rd, 2022 01:55 | By
A teacher at Consolata School in Nairobi takes her pupils through a CBC class lesson. PHOTO/File
A teacher at Consolata School in Nairobi takes her pupils through a CBC class lesson. PHOTO/File

The assessment of the pioneer class of learners under the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), is facing headwinds with the national examiner opting to change the format and structure of the examinations.

Learners who will in December sit the national assessment to be known as Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA), will now use multiple choices instead of the original idea of structured questions.

Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) is said to have taken the decision due to the lack of finances and logistics involved in the assessment process, particularly the marking of the examinations.

Knec is also said to be mulling whether to remove English composition and Kiswahili Insha from Grade 6 final national assessment.

Sources within Knec told People Daily that the use of structured questions would require massive resources, both financial and manpower in marking, unlike multiple choices that are handled by computers.

Adequate preparations

Besides the huge number of teachers who would be required for marking, the process would also have taken a longer period before the candidates get the results.

Currently, all subjects, save for English composition and Kiswahili Insha, are marked by computers.

Teachers and educationists have now raised eyebrows over the change of the format, which they say have watered down the main objective of CBC, which was to test the learners’ ability in thinking, analytical skills creativity and problem-solving.

Contacted, Knec Chief Executive Officer  David Njeng’ere declined to comment.

“I am currently out of the country on official duty, allow me to give you a comprehensive response when I return next week,” Njeng’ere said.

Dr Evelyn Jepkemei, an expert in education policy blames the apparent confusion over KPSEA on lack of adequate preparations.

“Knec does not have enough resources to mark open-ended examinations. The form of assessment that they are now resorting to is different altogether and assesses different abilities from structured questions,” Jepkemei says.

Another educationist, Alex Majani- a retired Deputy Director of Education says the abrupt change of the format by Knec is a clear indication that the government is not fully ready for the change in the education system.

“The compositeness of such assessment needed investment in human resources, but we did not. It is also sad to note that teachers have been left to spectate on issues they needed to prosecute and give guidance on,” Majani observes.

A recent report by the Budget and Appropriations Committee tabled before the National Assembly, blamed poor funding and heavy workload for the slow implementation of CBC. The report decried the low allocation for the estimated 1.6 million Grade Six learners who will transition to Junior Secondary School (JSS) under the 2022/23 budget.

Revelations about a change of the format come only a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta defended the implementation of CBC as a transformative system of education during his 10-year reign in leadership.

Speaking during the Madaraka Day celebrations on Wednesday, the President said the roll-out of the curriculum that took place in 2017 has seen significant milestones in the education docket, contrary to the previous systems.

The Head of State said that even after his term expires in August, the government has already put up structures in place to ensure that the CBC system does not stall.

“A system that brings about freedom to be creative and innovative as individuals. This is the promise of the CBC and that is why in December 2022, the pioneer CBC Class, now in its sixth grade, will transition to Junior Secondary,” Uhuru said.

Following the recent clash between  Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha and some political formations who are against the system, the Head of State outrightly held that there would be no looking back in regard to the CBC rollout.

A section of political leaders and education stakeholders have been calling on the government to set aside implementation of the CBC saying it lacks proper basic structures.

No turning back

“Given the manifest successes achieved in this short period of time, there is no turning back with respect to the Competency-Based Curriculum,” President Kenyatta noted.

He went forth to defend his regime’s consideration of the CBC, as a superior model to the 8-4-4 curriculum arguing that the latter focused on examinations which are not the aspiration of the current and future generations worldwide.

“With time, the 8-4-4 curriculum became inconsistent with the aspirations of our growing nation, particularly because of its overloaded curriculum and its focus on rote learning and the passing of examinations as the ultimate goal of the system,” he said.

“As we began re-engineering it, we had to return to the foundational philosophy of education that: ‘citizens do not fail - systems fail them’. And if the systems are inconsistent with the aspirations of the people, they must be changed,” the President said.

The pioneer CBC cohort is scheduled to sit for the final assessment between November 28 and November 30.

The candidates will be tackling two papers in a day starting 8.30 am. The second paper will be starting at 11 am. There will be no examinations in the afternoon, according to Knec’s schedule.

On the first day, students will sit for Mathematics and Mathematics (Large Print) tests, which will take one hour and 20 minutes, while Mathematics (Braille) will take one hour and 50 minutes.

English and English (Large Print), will take one hour while English (Hearing Impaired), and English (Braille) will last 20 minutes more.

Integrated Science tests will take one hour and 40 minutes. Integrated Science (Large Print) and Integrated Science (Braille) exams will take two hours and 10 minutes.

The learners will tackle Kiswahili and Kenyan Sign Language tests after the break. The exams will last for 1 hour. Kiswahili (Braille) will take one hour and 20 minutes. The last day will see students sit for the Creative Arts & Social Studies examinations which will take one hour and 40 minutes.

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