Transition under CBC: The waterloo is here with us
Since the reform process in the education system started under the Jubilee administration nearly a decade ago, one thing was clear—there was no plan.
It is now all too evident that education was never a priority for this administration and all that has been presented to us are smoke screens to divert us from what the agenda of the administration was. I say this without the fear of contradiction since there isn’t a single education initiative started under the administration that has not hit headwinds.
The laptop project that was supposed to be a flagship initiative drowned at the shallow end of the pool due to what the system called “teething problems”. The literal failure by the handlers, bureaucrats and advisors around the presidency to interpret, fashion and conceptualise the political intent of the president is one of the biggest contradictions but also failures of this administration.
The president spoke as a politician but his handlers and advisors failed to bring the loft idea to the ground by giving it legs with which it was to walk and obtain a life of its own.
It is now clear that money meant for laptops went down the drain—very little to write home about.
We quickly moved to the Competency-Based Curriculum with hard hitting statements about the train having left the station—for more than six years; we have told those who cared to ask questions their concerns, contributions were coming in a little too late since, the train had already left the station.
Questions around the availability of teaching and reading materials remained unanswered and where critics shared evidence; the PR machine was on to indicate the reported cases were isolated and had not greater import of the whole initiative.
When experts talked about flaws in the curriculum design; they were reminded they are not the only experts and that a coin has more than one side.
The teacher unions that were to be the fulcrum upon which the reform rotated were neutered and they now sit like eunuchs at the king’s palace. Teachers are lost in a match they are supposed to be officiating and playing.
Any reform in education globally is driven by the implementers—the teachers. In Kenya, teachers are invited into a process they least understand to take practice instruction from time to time. We expect something different? We ought to be serious.
The stiff-nakedness by the Ministry of Education has ensured the leadership of the sector has kept itself busy firefighting and managing operational issues instead of keeping their long focus on the sights of the shore.
The whole CBC design had no known implementation and resourcing plan that has been shared and discussed with stakeholders. Parents and guardians at the household level are ambushed everyday by demands from school on what they need to do urgently to make the day of their child in school successful the following morning.
The waterloo for the sector is going to be witnessed in January when the current Class Eight and Grade Six transit from primary into secondary school space—one group into Form One and the other into Grade Seven, the first class of Junior Secondary. If we have not been able to absorb the more than a million cohort from Class Eight into Form One at any one time with 100 per cent transition, how are going to handle two transitions of more than 2.5 million learners at a go?
We are likely going to witness a mini-collapse of the public education system during this window! The transition policy and attendant plan are non-existent. This is evident from the statements delivered by Jogoo House Mandarins last week which have required the Cabinet Secretary to issue a rejoinding clarification on issues that need to be in black and white.
We do not take education seriously—the Jubilee government has confirmed this. The Big Four agenda needed to have had education as its core but because we are a people who celebrate rhetoric, we cheered an agenda that was literally a cart before the horse. The waterloo is here!
— The writer is a teacher and public policy expert — [email protected]