“I want to send my child to the nearest public school and not the most expensive private school”
When I first heard this statement, the idea behind it quickly resonated with me. The idea that we could transform all our schools into centres that provide quality education; and quality education would not be a reserve for those who could afford it but a standard in the whole country.
I had very high hopes when CBC was introduced. I still do. It was the right direction as far as offering quality education was concerned. The shift from focusing on academic performance to the development of skills and competencies meant that learners had development opportunities based on the areas in which they were most competent.
Six years down the line, however, things seem bleaker than before.
I say this because CBC is still facing the same challenges that have marred its implementation since its inception. While I agree that curriculum reform is an ongoing process, the reality is that time is moving! Our learners are still required to transition from the previous grade every year. It’s safe to say that the longer we take to solve the teething problems associated with the new curriculum, the longer we are gambling with the very future of our learners.
I argue that one of the main challenges that we need to address is training. Adequate training for both parents and teachers will bring us much closer to achieving the goals of CBC as far as access, relevance, equity, and quality of education are concerned.
According to a 2019 report by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), most pre-primary and lower primary teachers were inadequately trained. KNUT also put the effectiveness of the training that happened into question, stating that the facilitators themselves were incompetent in the delivery of the CBC approach.
In 2022, the situation has barely changed. In addition to inadequate training, we are starting to see a divide grow where some schools are more prepared than others to handle CBC. Below are two reasons for this occurrence.
- Failure to provide equal opportunity for training
Despite the government’s best efforts, not all teachers receive equal opportunities for training. It is easier for teachers in urban centres to receive training than their rural counterparts. Furthermore, the TPD programmes that the Teacher Service Commission (TSC) mandates can only be accessed through a handful of accredited institutions.
- Inadequate resources
CBC is resource-intensive. Parents continue to complain about the high cost of CBC, including the frequent requirements to buy project materials. Parents are often asked to provide items such as manila papers, folders, files, gloves, gardening tools, and even fruits. The many textbook requirements also add to the cost of CBC. Some tasks even require printing. Schools, parents, and teachers with more resources are thus better equipped to handle the demands of CBC.
As a country, this growing divide means that CBC will fail to achieve its promise of equity and quality education. Some learners will go through their early grades without developing the necessary competencies and skills.
Similarly, the added responsibility of the teacher to continuously assess learners and provide feedback means that the role of the teacher is more crucial than ever when it comes to identifying a learner’s abilities and talents.
What should we then do? Our role as stakeholders means that it is up to us to create environments that foster continuous teacher training and parental engagement. Specifically, practical training opportunities that focus on the pedagogy and application of locally available materials to develop competencies in learners.
It is not too late to transform education in Kenya. It just requires us to collectively work to ensure that teachers have access to the right tools and training to effectively handle CBC. What I hope we can all agree on, is that we no longer have the time to do nothing and wait! Our country’s future is at stake.