Barely three years since its launch by the Ministry of Education, the competency-based curriculum (CBC) has left many Kenyans debating without coming into a conclusive agreement on whether it is good or bad for their children.
The new curriculum designed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), meant to inculcate values such as love, responsibility, respect, unity, peace patriotism and integrity to learners, has now turned different stakeholders against themselves and the government. This is quite ironic.
Is CBC good for us? This is a question that should linger in every Kenyan’s head. Those who structured the curriculum say it should equip the learners with good communication skills in collaboration, the ability to think critically in solving problems, digital literacy, learning to learn for self-efficacy and nurture citizenship. This means it should be good. So what’s wrong?
Different reports such as those released by UNESCO contend that CBC includes all learning activities and environments chosen so as learners can acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes to different situations. It enables students to advance based on their ability to master a skill at their own pace, regardless of where they come from. What learners can learn about in terms of traditionally defined subject content. CBC ensures the learner is provided with all the relevant materials that equip them with various competencies that are needed for a particular career. Again, this implies that it should be good.
We have seen school kids clean up the environment as part of their learning about problem-solving in the community and even make scarecrows to help chase birds from the farms. A sign that CBC is working and bearing fruits.
What is the problem? Parents complain of the new system being expensive and time-consuming. For instance, parents spend much to purchase computers and tablets to help their children undertake assignments given by teachers, others go to the cyber to download wanted learning materials as others buy musical instruments and Manila papers, 3 exercise books for a single subject.
“This is a huge relief. I can’t anymore with this CBC. I can’t. It’s not what we signed for. Above- this is a textbook for PP2 (my daughter’s), unlike the previous system, where textbooks were shared by siblings. This CBC has made sure we buy such and dumb after that class,” said a netizen.
Parents blame teachers for making learning expensive, as assignments are complicated for their kids. They blame teachers for going overboard. Teachers, on the other hand, blame parents for failure to take responsibility for their children’s learning. But who is to blame?
Who is supposed to implement the new curriculum? If it is the teachers, do they have the required skills? This requires an additional set of skills, especially being that digital literacy is involved.
If parents are to help, is the CBC guide on parent empowerment engagement already with the parents? Parents need to internalize how this system works.
It would be a good move if the government would borrow from countries such as Finland, Germany, South Africa, the Netherlands, Norway and our neighbours Rwanda to be able to catalyse a more realistic, contextual and sustainable approach to CBC. The government should also improve on school infrastructure, and address the shortage of trained teachers.
Not to forget, the government should review the CBC syllabus so stakeholders will not view it as being discriminatory.
We should not view CBC as a disaster yet to happen. It is good but it should not be hurried.
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