Knut has issued a harsh critique of the new curriculum set to be rolled out next week in nursery and primary schools, describing it as a tragedy to the education system.
In a detailed analysis, the Kenya National Union of Teachers says the Education ministry did not carry out a comprehensive survey of international best practice and that no research was done to prove that a competency-based curriculum is more effective than the current learning-outcome-based framework.
In the analysis dubbed A critical examination of the competency based curriculum reforms, the union claims the testing of the new system was hurried and was done without the appropriate syllabus, pupils’ books and teachers’ guides.
It says that curriculum specialists had not stated the expected learning outcomes such as knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.
“The technical training courses should be removed from the curriculum, which should not be implemented before teachers’ concerns are addressed,” the document says.
It adds: “The government is the problem. It must work for the speedy raising of the standards in schools, colleges and universities and has to learn from China, Korea, Finland, Singapore, Japan and other countries that have used education to promote rapid social economic development.”
The union added that no study had been conducted to identify dialects of indigenous languages that should be taught.
“The glaring gaps call for a quick fix of the entire process and that is the reason why we have brought the matters to your attention in a rather detailed form,” Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion said in a December 19 letter to Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, which accompanied the report.
As Knut raised its objections, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) said it had concluded the training of 170,000 teachers in readiness for the rollout.
The institute’s head Julius Jwan on Tuesday said that they have received Knut’s analysis and are studying it.
In his letter, Mr Sossion urged the Government to go slow on the reforms, which he said could damage the education system if hurried.
“It is tragic that the experts charged with the responsibility of framing the new curriculum have not noticed the gaps more so the missing links between the stakeholders and the curriculum framework itself,” the letter said.
“The haphazard manner in which the reforms have been carried out has triggered a chain reaction, a clear confirmation of the missing link between the framers of the curriculum and the stakeholders.
"This is the reason why I am bringing to your attention that it is not too late to review the entire reform process.”
Mr Sossion asked Dr Matiang’i to play a pivotal role in ensuring that the Kenyan child gets a good curriculum, saying the proposed reforms would disrupt education standards and reverse the gains achieved so far.
“There must be a sessional paper to guide the review in the absence of which the entire process shall be illegal,” he said.
The union has proposed that the curriculum be rolled out in 2019 instead of next year.
“Curriculum reform is necessary if we want to improve the quality of education in Kenya.
"However, it should be based on the needs of learners and society and best international practice and standards.
"More importantly, it should be carried out by a combination of curriculum specialists, teachers and other education expert,” the union leader suggested.
He said local education experts including Ministry of Education professional staff who have extensive experience in curriculum development, implementation and evaluation of curriculum had been ignored in the reform process and that the views of the Cabinet Secretary, his team of local consulates and foreign experts had carried the day.
Mr Sossion said it was unusual that Unicef and not Unesco had played a more prominent role in the reform process.
“There was no review of the existing education system by an education commission.
"Available data shows that the report of Prof Douglas Odhiambo Commission, which is mentioned in the curriculum framework document, was not adopted by the government since it was rejected by stakeholders,” he said.
While releasing the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) results last week, Dr Matiang’i urged Kenyans to feel free to enrich the ongoing curriculum reforms process.
The new changes, he said, require a gradual investment in continuous evaluation and retraining of some of the critical actors in the evaluation chain.
“We shall roll out the curriculum in a methodical step by step manner that will ensure great precision,” Dr Matiang’i said.
The new 2-6-3-3 system is replacing the 8-4-4, which has been discredited for being too examination-centred.
The new system places emphasis on continuous assessment tests (CATs) over one-off examinations.
It also replaces the current Standard One to Form Four with grade 1 to grade 12.
Dr Jwan said books to be used for the new system have been vetted starting with the early years — Preprimary 1 and 2 and grades 1, 2 and 3.
In 2019, the rollout will be in grade 4 and 5 and the training of teachers in those classes will be done next year, while in 2020 the focus will be in grade 6 — the end of primary education.
In 2021 and 2022, the system will be introduced in grade 7 and 8 with the last stage of junior secondary school — grade 9 — being dealt with in 2023.
“At the end of this stage, there will be a national examination to help place the students in different pathways,” Dr Jwan said.
In 2024 KICD will roll out grade 10, in 2025 grade 11 and the last one — grade 12 — in 2026.
This means that the last Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam will be in 2025 and will be done by those who will join Standard Five in 2018.