School heads vow to implement new system

Tuesday May 21 2019

A teacher instructing Grade One pupils

A teacher instructing Grade One pupils. Schools reopen for second term from April 29, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NATION TEAM
By NATION TEAM
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Primary school headteachers have vowed to continue implementing the new curriculum, saying any shortcomings can be addressed.

Kenya Primary School Heads Association chairman Nicholas Gathemia said teachers are up to the task and should not be distracted.

LEARNING MATERIALS

“We have already started the journey of implementing this new curriculum and teachers are doing well. We hope to get more training as time goes,” said the chairman.

Several headteachers in Nairobi County said they are implementing the curriculum but asked for more guidance on how to assess learners.

Teachers also said they do not know what will happen to learners who perform poorly in assessments.

The teachers, who requested not to be named, said the system will be improved as most have now been trained.

“It will be hard to go back to the old system, since we have already discarded the learning materials and all that we have is for the new curriculum,” said a teacher in Nairobi.

But Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion insisted that teachers do not understand what they are being forced to teach.

“Those who have been training them (teachers) do not understand the curriculum, so most of them are just doing guesswork,” said Mr Sossion.

A concern that had been raised by teachers was how to assess individual pupils. They pointed out that the new system was encouraging rot assessment in cases of classes with large enrolments of between 60 and 100 pupils.

A report by an external evaluator appointed by the Ministry of Education last year revealed that the government required Sh365 billion to start phasing out the 8-4-4 education system during the first four years of implementing the new curriculum.

SH90BN ANNUALLY

The report added that some Sh90 billion is needed annually to roll out the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) and the money is supposed to cater for preparing teachers, recruiting more staff and developing proper infrastructure.

The government has set aside Sh2.4 billion for implementing the curriculum and the laptop project for the fiscal year starting in July. Since the roll-out of the curriculum started, millions of books have been distributed to schools.

In Kakamega, implementation of the CBC at Eshitari Primary School in Butere is facing a myriad of challenges despite the government’s efforts to deliver the programme.

Headteacher Eliakim Mucheru said the curriculum involves assessing the child without basing grading on academics alone, a process he confessed was not easy but that they were doing their best. He said the school was trying to identify the abilities of the learners and supporting them in their talents.

“Those who are good in class are assisted to enhance their ability while those who are good out of class are also assisted in the various disciplines to excel,” said Mr Mucheru.

Mr Thomas Etemesi, a senior teacher at the school, said the period given for training teachers handling the curriculum was too short and many teachers lack enough information to run the curriculum.

“Some of us are not trained on operating computers yet we were exposed to use laptops,” said Mr Etemesi, noting that the school also lacks teaching-learning materials.

In Kisumu County, teachers at Pandpieri Primary School are optimistic the implementation of CBC will be a game changer in education.

POOR NETWORK

Deputy headteacher Earnest Obar said the success of the system will depend on what teachers do.

“Personally, I feel the CBC system is the best that can help children interact with the learning environment because it is learner-based,” said Mr Obar.

In Uasin Gishu County, many teachers are grappling with lack of materials to fully roll out the CBC.

The teachers yesterday lauded the new curriculum but said it should have been introduced gradually as some schools lack the necessary infrastructure to embrace it.

At Tebeswet Primary School, teachers lamented lack of books for the CBC as a major challenge.

“Our teachers have embraced the CBC, but they lack enough materials as books are yet to be delivered by the ministry. The only material they have is guidelines on how to integrate with learners,” said headteacher Daniel Tarus.

He said the digital tablets provided by the ministry were also slow due to poor network coverage in the area.

The CBC emphasises the complex outcomes of a learning process (i.e. knowledge, skills and attitudes to be applied by learners) rather than focusing on what learners are expected to learn about in terms of traditionally defined subject content.

RIP OFF BILLIONS

Meanwhile, Knut has claimed that the curriculum changes in schools are a scheme to benefit textbook publishers and bookshops in part of a wider plan in the government to rip off billions of taxpayers’ money.

Mr Sossion alleged that technocrats in the Ministry of Education had colluded with powerful and politically connected businessmen to profit from printing and supplying books to schools.

“When a curriculum is changed in schools, the import is that for eight straight years, the publishers and booksellers are in business for that period, raking in billions of shillings as the old books are discarded for new ones,” said Mr Sossion.

But Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka urged Knut and Ministry of Education officials to end wrangles in the education sector. Mr Lusaka observed that the unending tussle over the curriculum is likely to disrupt learning in public schools.

Reports by Vitalis Kimutai, Ouma Wanzala, Shaban Makokha, Justus Ochieng’, Shaban Makokha, Elizabeth Ojina and Wycliffe Kipsang