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Kenya: Push and pull factors affect launch of new curriculum

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed ignored a report prepared for her by technical officers on the country’s preparedness for the rollout of the new curriculum when she declared before the Senate committee on education that the new system would not take off in January.

The report, which was submitted to the committee chaired by Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar on Tuesday, indicated that the country was fully prepared for the new curriculum.

However, Ms Mohamed, despite having the document, said that the country was not ready for the new curriculum to the dismay of officers who had accompanied her.

They included Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang and Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD) chief executive Julius Jwan, among others.

TRAINING

In the report, Ms Mohamed had indicated that the ministry had made adequate arrangements for the continued implementation of the competence-based curriculum (CBC) in terms of teaching materials, facilities and teachers.

For teaching materials, she had indicated that 219 titles or textbooks had been evaluated and approved for early learning education (pre-primary, Grade 1 to Grade 3).

She also indicated that the ministry had mounted training for teachers in the early years in 1,168 education zones. An education zone is made up of 20 primary schools.

The report by her also stated that 71 master trainers, 507 trainers of trainers, 3,360 regional trainers, 96,522 primary school teachers and 79,760 pre-primary teachers had been trained.

“However, it is worth noting that the training of teachers under the CBC is a continuous process and the next phase of early year’s teachers training is scheduled from December 17 to December 21 in all the education zones of the country,” she said in the report.

REPORT

She added the existing facilities in the schools would be used for the implementation of the CBC in early years education, noting that additional facilities will be required for grades 7 to 12 with the introduction of pathways.

However, it’s the disclosure by Ms Mohamed while answering questions from senators that the country was unprepared that has left confusion in the education sector, with a national steering committee meeting which was to be held yesterday postponed.

Yesterday, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary-general Wilson Sossion, while addressing the union’s 61st annual meeting, told delegates the government should start the process afresh.

It is believed Ms Mohamed, while making her conclusion, used information in a preliminary report of external evaluators, which pointed at various gaps in the new curriculum.

She is expected from Monday to receive the final report from the external evaluators.

CHALLENGES

In October, Ms Mohamed tasked a team of evaluators to look at the new curriculum after it emerged that the preparedness of the country after two years of piloting was at 56 percent, while the minimum threshold set out for global standards for such an exercise is 50 percent, meaning that the quality of implementation during the pilot phase was above the international benchmark.

The 2-6-3-3-3 system will replace the 8-4-4 system.

However, the preliminary report raised several concerns on the preparedness to launch the system.

“Conceptualisation of the curriculum reform process is problematic. KICD views the process as a revision of the existing curriculum when it should be a complete alignment of education to existing and projected needs of the country within the 21st century knowledge framework.

“Inability of KICD to interpret policies guiding the process has led to the uncertainties surrounding the reform process,” the document reads.

It also points out the issue of insufficient time for stakeholder engagement, which was half-a-day conference and then KICD asked Kenyans to ignore those raising red flags.

SHORTAGE

The document states that the pilot was not scientifically designed, as “no variables delineated for impact assessment, no clear monitoring strategy and no clarity in evaluation process and thresholds for national rollout”.

“The national budgets have not captured adequate resources for the curriculum reform process especially development of infrastructure and additional human resource,” it said.

“The current teacher-deficits will seriously inhibit the implementation of the competency-based curriculum. This is likely to manifest itself more adversely in the marginalised Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) areas. The curriculum reforms have not been dove-tailed in the preparation of teachers by TTCs and Universities,” the document says.

It adds that it is not clear how the Early Years will relate to Junior school and it warns that lack of alignment within and across disciplines – Preschool curriculum is not aligned to Grade 1-3; or languages don’t align assessment framework to leverage each other.

The document points out several consequences that include lack of syllabuses in schools and cost implication.

“Curriculum Designs are bulky and prove a challenge for teachers in preparation of schemes of work. Curriculum designs have adopted semantics that are problematic for teachers, for example, ‘strands’ and ‘sub-strands’, ‘movement’, ‘exceeded expectations’ et cetera.”

PARTICIPATION

It also points out that curriculum areas identified are not aligned in terms of competencies – for example language activities. Some languages adopt spiral approach to learning, others maintain the linear approach.

There is also the issue of insufficient training of teachers thus variation in interpretations of the designs which was evident, and headteachers were not providing instructional support for lack of adequate supervision and lack of capacity.

“Learnings from literacy programmes have not been fully adopted, with contact time reduced from five lessons a week to three without counter-evidence. Teachers are confused about assessment strategies for CBC due to minimal induction from KNEC. Some still buy commercial examinations,” the document says.

Some of the recommendations were the immediate establishment of a team of curriculum and management experts to evaluate the current curriculum process and other educational reforms in the country, giving possible recommendations.

“Re-do the designs all the way to grade 12 even if implementation will start in early years. These preparatory works should not be hurried and can take up to the estimated four years,” the document says, adding that all stakeholders must be involved.

POLICY

It also proposes development of a national competency framework for all learning areas, adoption of innovative competency approaches already tried and tested in literacy and numeracy globally, among others.

It also wants a relook at the curriculum areas, their discipline foundations, justifications and financial, human resource and pedagogical implications.

“Finalise and publish curriculum reform policy into a Parliamentary Act. Create a National Secretariat for the rollout of the competency-based curriculum if the evaluation team asserts that it’s viable. Factor the reform process in the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) for budgetary considerations,” the report recommends.

In October this year, KICD in its internal evaluation of the new curriculum identified several gaps: teachers struggling with the concept and lacking the capacity demanded by the new curriculum.

It also emerged that schools did not have learning materials for the rollout despite having piloted the curriculum for two years.

By Daily Nation

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