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Experts fault enactment of CBC system

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022 07:38 | By
A teacher at Consolata School in Nairobi with her CBC learners. PHOTO/FILE

The Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) is shrouded in more confusion, as stakeholders appear to grope in utter darkness.

From the confusion at the Ministry of Education where Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha appears to be reading from different scripts with his technocrats to teachers, parents and pupils, the story seems to be the same: Total lack of preparedness.

The issue has been complicated by threats by leaders of Kenya Kwanza Alliance that they would abolish CBC and revert to 8-4-4 system, a move that the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development chief executive Prof Charles Ong’ondo warns will be costly in numerous ways.

Also sounding a warning is the chairman of the Kenya Secondary Schools Head Teachers Association Kahi Indimuli, who contends that congestion in secondary schools will reach crisis levels if the infrastructure is not expanded by next year.

“Many secondary schools are yet to improve infrastructure even after the 100 per cent transition,” he warns.

Indimuli further says schools will require significant preparation in terms of infrastructure, teacher training and development of teaching and learning content.

Educationists are now warning that the much-touted system, which was anticipated to revolutionise the educational sector could come a cropper unless the government moves swiftly to address the challenges raised.

“Rain began beating us from the manner in which the whole thing of CBC was conceptualised. We did not give ourselves ample time to think and research the new system. That is why the implementation seems to be haphazard,” says Dr Evelyn Jepkemei, an education policy expert.

Jepkemei says CBC faces the challenges of inadequate learning facilities, lack of adequate training teachers, shortage of teachers, lack of adequate teaching and learning materials, ignorance and lack of cooperation from parents, whose role in the whole system remains opaque.

The country was last week treated to a circus over the implementation of CBC as Magoha contradicted his technocrats on several policy issues, manifesting the confusion that has continued to engulf the system.

Senior official

Government Spokesman Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna and a senior official in the Directorate of Secondary Education Lawrence Karuntini kicked off the storm with assertions that learners who will transition to Junior Secondary School next year under CBC will attend day schools.

Further, according to Karuntini, categorisation of schools as either national, extra-county, county or sub-county will not apply at Junior Secondary once CBC is rolled out in secondary schools in January.

 “Our focus is that this should be a day rather than a boarding school. The transition from Grade Six to Seven will be in such a way that students transit to schools that are nearby,” Karuntini said.

A deputy director in the State Department for the Implementation of Curriculum Reforms, Ruth Mugambi, a technical advisor to the Principal Secretary, said learners who will join Grade Seven next year will be taught by secondary school teachers.

A day later, Magoha was in the news, rebuking his officers and insisting that Junior Secondary School will be offered in both boarding and day secondary schools under CBC.

“All the existing boarding and day secondary schools will admit learners transiting from Grade Six to Grade Seven under CBC based on guidelines to be provided by the ministry,” Magoha stated.

Although the government has insisted that JSS would be domiciled in secondary schools with some primary institutions with enough capacity being allowed to host some, a section of primary headteachers have been pushing to have Grade Seven and Eight hosted in lower school levels.

But the push by primary school heads seems to have become nought after the Teachers Service Commission placed a caveat on the primary headteachers to be allowed to teach in secondary schools. For one to be allowed to teach in a secondary school, TSC has insisted that he or she must have attained a mean grade of C plus in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination.

Ranking system

Placement of learners aside, the government has also remained mute on the modalities and criteria through which learners would be placed in JSS.

“When we say that we have abolished the ranking system and then have the 100 per cent transition, what system do we have in place to determine which learner would join a particular school?” Jonathan Wesaya, an expert on public policy quips.

Wesaya says if the country has been unable to absorb the about one million cohorts from Class Eight to Form One at any one time with the 100 per cent transition, questions remain unanswered on how it would handle two transitions of over 2.5 million learners at the same time.

The government has, however, continued to downplay concerns by teachers and parents over the apparent confusion over the criterion to be used in the placement of learners into JSS.

“There is no cause for alarm as the government is already working on modalities to be used in the placement of learners. I am sure that by October, everything shall be very clear,” Dr Fatuma Chege, Principal Secretary for State Department for Implementation of Curriculum Reforms told the People Daily.

Arising challenges

 Regional Education Learning Initiative (RELI), a consortium of 70 education organisations, is now warning the government that time is running out and that it should move with speed to address challenges surrounding CBC implementation.

RELI Country Lead Samuel Otieno said the Government should move with speed to address arising challenges, failure to which the country risks being caught off guard.

This, he said, would be putting to risk the education of children transitioning to JSS given the fact that the situation is expected to be more than the norm.

As much as the ministry has made efforts in building classrooms, he said the group is concerned that with only six months left to the transition, even the classrooms being constructed do not seem to be enough to accommodate the double intake of students. 

Next year will have a double intake of the last batch of Class Eight joining Form One and the first batch of Grade Six transitioning to JSS.

Though the government is apparently constructing about 10, 000 classrooms across the country, experts say at least 100,000 classrooms are required for “conducive learning.”

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