At several forums by the school where I am a parent, we have had very engaging discussions and interactions with the stakeholders of the competency-based curriculum (CBC), such as representatives of KICD, the Education ministry and Knec.
The new system is good and the clear difference with 8-4-4 is that it shifts from the summative evaluation to competency-based evaluation where continuous assessment counts more. The 8-4-4 is said to be too rigid and with limited opportunities to align basic education with children’s career interests, aptitudes and abilities.
Our school has been piloted for Knec’s Kenya Early Years Assessment for grade three, and the kind of preparation we had to go through was quite rigorous. This revealed great opportunities for parents to work with the children.
The most challenging part was the case of portfolio books and display materials. These are not readily available in the local bookshops or supermarkets yet they are mandatory to complement CBC learning.
CBC embraces digital literacy as a key competency and, therefore, uses tablets with preloaded learning content such as Msingi Pack. The gadget, charging cabinets, laptops for teachers and the teaching content are expensive, as is electricity required to run them.
A compelling reason to embrace the CBC in Kenya is regional cooperation and integration, one of the objectives of the East African Community. One way of achieving this was movement of goods and services across the five countries.
Movement of labour required a harmonised curriculum among the members. This culminated in the development of “A Framework on Harmonization of Curricula, Structure and Examinations in the EAC”.
Secondly, there are many children whose aptitude, interests and abilities lie in vocational education, the arts and sports, much as the country needs learners who perform well in the traditional subjects like medicine, engineering, law.
Lastly, general education and, specifically, the curriculum that learners interact with will play a major role in helping Kenya to achieve the SDGs. The curriculum provides an opportunity to align to the SDGs and the
Digital literacy aids innovations and inventions, making it desirable. It also makes sense to keep preparing teachers and parents to embrace the change. But how prepared is the government to meet the resource-intensive learning?
Policy makers, stakeholders and development partners must agree on improving this learning method and be keen on internationally accepted standards, testing and quality management for effective monitoring of the transition.
But the government must address the concerns already raised before its roll out in 2019.
As Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has said, education must deliver to Africa what it did to the rest of the world. Let’s go the competency-based way.
Ms Odhiambo, a strategic management consultant, is a development studies PhD student at JKUAT. [email protected]