Connect with us

General News

Avoid shortcuts with new education system



More by this Author

The publication of a Sessional Paper on education reforms this week is a step in the right direction. However, the Education ministry is placing the cart before the horse. It has announced that the new curriculum — 2-6-3-3 — will commence next week when schools reopen for the first term. Yet there is no legislative approval and guiding policy to support the system.

The Sessional Paper has to be approved by Parliament, which is on recess until February. Even if it resumes, it is not automatic that it will start with that paper or, even if did, approve it. In effect, the commencement of the new curriculum is not anchored in law.

Procedurally, the ministry should have presented the Sessional Paper to Parliament and obtained the approval beforehand. Subsequently, it would develop a policy and regulations to guide implementation. But now, it is acting in reverse.

It is not lost on us either that the ministry is commencing the roll-out without financial allocations to schools. As we have argued before, other than these, there is evidence that the preparations for the roll-out are defective. An independent evaluation report shows that teachers have not been fully trained, schools do not have the resources, while all the textbooks are not available.

All agree that the new system is timely and ought to be implemented to replace 8-4-4. But this is a journey that requires proper preparations.

While the piloting started two years ago in earnest, the momentum was lost this year. It is for this reason that the stakeholders agreed with Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed that, other indiscretions notwithstanding, the system could be executed in 2020. In the interim, the ministry would intensify piloting next year to get ready for full implementation.

During the year, the ministry would finalise the Sessional Paper, submit it for debate and approval by Parliament and, importantly, secure financing. Initial estimates project that it will cost Sh365 billion to commence the programme from pre-school to Grade Three.

What is emerging is confusion in the education sector. That is not conducive for the execution of such a long-lasting undertaking. It is troubling that there is constant push-and-pull in a process that should be driven by consensus. Without consistency and unity of purpose, the target is easily missed.

With the publication of the Sessional Paper, whose passage cannot be pre-determined, the ministry is now trying to clean up the mess it has created.

What we are asking is that the ministry should follow the right process in implementing the new curriculum. We must get it right from the start.