Diploma course for primary teachers under new school system

Sunday December 30 2018

Amina Mohamed.

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NATION TEAM
By NATION TEAM
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The current primary teacher education programme (P1) is set to be dropped and replaced with a diploma course starting in the new year in radical measures to fast track the implementation of the new curriculum.

According to the Curriculum Policy document signed off by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed on Friday, the replacement of the P1 teachers is part of a government initiative to produce high quality staff capable of implementing the new system, known in education circles as the Competence Based Curriculum (CBS).

The TSC will be in charge of mounting a robust teacher training programme, an area that has been cited as weak and which prompted an earlier feeling that the CBC was not yet ripe for implementation.

UHURU PET PROJECTS

About Sh1 billion has already been spent on teacher training, with the government expressing confidence that the 170,000 teachers so far trained can navigate the 2019 CBC roll-out as other staff undergo training for the necessary skills set.

TSC secretary Nancy Macharia will also institute an effective teacher deployment, management and development programme to meet the expectations of the reform in regular, special needs schools and tertiary institutions.

From Thursday when the new term begins, learners from PP1, PP2 and Grades 1-3 will be put on the less examination-oriented CBC in all public and private primary schools.

The latest development comes as four education agencies bear sustained government pressure to deliver the new curriculum

The four, TSC, Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec), Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD) and the Ministry of Education’s Quality Assurance and Standards department, have been named as key to making or breaking the new curriculum.

The CBC, set to replace the much-criticised 33-year-old 8-4-4, is turning out to be one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pet projects.

LEGAL INSTRUMENTS

Ms Mohamed was yesterday said to be mulling over a strategy to successfully roll out the new school system amid concerns that key policy and legal instruments to support the CBC are not in place.

On Thursday, she sent out a sessional paper to anchor the curriculum to Parliament and thereafter silently dispatched the Curriculum Policy document to the KICD late on Friday.

President Kenyatta on Friday evening added impetus to the implementation process during a televised interview from Mombasa when he supported Ms Mohamed’s latest announcement that the programme will be implemented from January.

He said the curriculum will be rolled out on a phased approach from the early years, urging Kenyans not to be worried about any hitches as examinations under the system were “far away”.

“We want to start from class one to class four and progress slowly, maturely, learn from our mistakes and continue improving. The first exams will be years to come,” the President said.

Whereas the Education minister’s colleagues are away on Christmas vacation, the Sunday Nation has learnt that Ms Mohamed is under so much pressure to ensure things go smoothly that she has been working through the holidays to put final touches to the implementation plan.

This includes assigning fresh duties to officials and agencies in the ministry, which will culminate in what her handlers said was a countrywide monitoring exercise in all the counties to ensure the system roll-out goes on smoothly.

MONITORING MECHANISM

On its part, the KICD — besides developing the curriculum itself — has been tasked to vet all materials from publishers.

There have been fears that the institute had not developed the materials but chairperson Sarah Ruto on Friday discounted the claims, stating that all necessary materials had been vetted and approved.

“We are ready and prepared to roll out the system,” Dr Ruto said yesterday.

The Department of Quality Assurance and Standards, headed by Pius Mutisya, is expected to quickly develop the benchmarks for the curriculum reform process for all levels of education.

“Ensure maintenance of standards, quality and relevance for curriculum reform and implementation,” says the 35-page curriculum policy.

Further, the department is expected to undertake an audit of schools to map facilities in former technical schools in order to establish talent and technical institutions in every region.

The policy calls for prudent mechanisms to monitor and supervise school infrastructure programmes and curriculum delivery methods.

The ministry will, according to the policy, work closely with National Education Boards and County Education Boards to influence curriculum reform and implementation at national and county levels respectively to steer the process.

Knec secretary Mercy Karogo is expected to set up functional units to coordinate competency-based assessment and build bridges between government organisations in charge of curriculum development, implementation and assessment.

WIDELY CRITICISED

The council has promised to develop a rubric for assessment, which will be ready by March 2019.

But Knut has opposed the new curriculum, saying the system was ‘hurried’ and that teachers have not been trained to teach it. The union has also called a nationwide strike to protest at the transfer of its members by the Teachers Service Commission.

“The infrastructure and human capital requirements of the new curriculum are mammoth. As we speak, schools have not even received books that are necessary for teaching the new curriculum,” said Mr Sossion.

The Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) has said its members are working overtime to supply the books to schools.

The 8-4-4- system has been widely criticised for being heavily loaded in terms of content and being too examination oriented, putting undue pressure on learners.

The CBC places emphasis on Continuous Assessment Tests (CATs) over one-off examinations.

“It (CBC) will ensure that the skills taught in education institutions match the requirements of the industry and will also emphasise on national values, integration of science and innovation and adoption of ICT technologies,” says the document.

EXPERIMENTATION

“From the primary school cycle to higher levels, CBC is intended to offer learners equal opportunities to advance to the highest level of learning either through the academic or TVET channels.”

The new structure also provides opportunities for entry and re-entry into either pathways.

An additional feature of the proposed structure is that the education and training system is structured into basic and higher education and training.

Under the new Competence Based Curriculum system, basic education will be organised into three levels: Early Years Education (EYE), Middle School and Senior School.

The EYE includes Pre-primary and Lower Primary. Pre-primary education is for 2 years (Pre-primary 1 and Pre-primary 2 and will be for children aged between 4 and 5 years).

The learners from Pre-primary 2 will join Lower Primary in Grade 1 at about 6 years of age and spend 3 years in this part of Early Years Education before joining middle school.

On the other hand, Middle School Education will comprise three years of Upper Primary and three years of Lower Secondary education.

In Upper Primary, learners will be exposed to a broad-based curriculum and will be given an opportunity for exploration and experimentation.

CAREER PATHS

Lower secondary will expose the learners to a broad-based curriculum to enable them to explore their own abilities, personality and potential, as a basis for choosing subjects according to career paths of interest at the senior school.

Senior School comprises three years of education targeted at learners in the age bracket of 15 to 17 years and lays the foundation for further education and training at the tertiary level and the world of work.

It will mark the end of Basic Education as defined in the Education Act, 2013. Tertiary and University education will last for a minimum of 3 years.

In the long term, basic education and training is proposed to be 14 years, comprising of pre-primary (2 years), primary (6 years), secondary education (6 years), and University (3 years).

Under this, higher education will consist of undergraduate and postgraduate (masters and doctoral) programmes, as well as TVET, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.