One of the simplest definitions of competence is that it is the ability to do something successfully. This is very easy to see when we observe people like nurses or mechanics doing their work. You can easily tell who is successfully getting the job done and who isn’t. But what is competency when it comes to children? Say a pre-primary school child or a Grade 1 child? Are we also looking out for their ability to do some things?
Our competency-based curriculum has a well described competency-based assessment framework which describes the various competencies that we should be looking out for at every stage of learning. This assessment framework is described in the curriculum designs issued by KICD.
Take the example above from Pre-Primary 1 (PP1), learning area Mathematics, strand Numbering and sub-strand Number Recognition. The curriculum designs envisage a situation where by a certain stage (Term 1, 2 or 3), a learner is expected to recognise number numerals between 1 and 9 with the ones exceeding expectations being able to recognise beyond nine numerals while those below expectations cannot recognise more than six numerals.
So does this qualify as a measurement of competence? What happens when the learners forget and yet we had measured them as exceeding expectations? This happens very often by the way and teachers often have to come back to this very assessment.
It is a decent starting point in the journey of measuring competency but at a philosophical level, we might have to have more debates to agree on what we truly mean by competency-based education and whether our conventional understanding of competency can be realised at the formative stages of learning.