Nakuru-based Greensteds International School headmaster Mr Jon Murray-Walker spoke to Francis Mureithi on the new Competency Based Curriculum.
Do you support this new curriculum?
I support it wholeheartedly. The curriculum seeks to raise education standards in Kenya to match the global standards.
Do you think Kenya is well prepared for the Competency Based Curriculum?
The new curriculum is a positive sign that the country is developing a syllabus for the future. Education is not just about academics. The idea of value based education is critical as it develops young people with real character and strength of personality to change the world around them.
What key values are you instilling in learners at Greensteds?
Our education is based on seven key pillars which include dedication, respect, diversity, opportunity, care, community service and challenge. Everything we do is linked into the seven pillars. We focus on high quality learning and teaching. If you focus on quality learning teaching comes naturally.
What is high quality learning?
We strive to make the classroom teaching-learning process as interactive as possible.
Learners are given opportunities to articulate their ideas and work with colleagues to solve problems. However, this can be challenging in schools that have larger classes.
What issues do you think need immediate fixing in the Competency Based Curriculum?
Besides acquiring knowledge, learners must be taught how to apply the knowledge. For instance, pupils in mathematics class learning about the perimeter and area as an academic exercise need to come up with drawings outside the classroom. They need to create their designs and workout the perimeter and area of their classrooms. This helps them to apply the knowledge. Through this, the teacher is also able to measure the students' level of understanding. Knowledge should be used to solve problems outside classrooms.
What aspects of the British curriculum would you recommend for the Kenyan new syllabus?
Monitoring the learning process and encouraging value-based education through acquisition of new skills enhances critical thinking among learners. Others include discussing issues and creating a sense of independence among learners through critical thinking. Learners need to be encouraged to apply skills and knowledge to solve problems.
What one critical pillar from the British curriculum would you like the CBC not to miss?
Challenge. We encourage all or students not be afraid of challenges. We encourage them to embrace challenge. Just because some tasks are difficult should not be a problem. We push them to try their best and even surprise themselves. We train and prepare them to be risk takers in life after school. This has seen our students emerge as global winners in many fields.
Do you think the implementation of CBC is being rushed?
I’m happy there is a good will from the government to make changes in the curriculum. However, it takes time to transit from one curriculum to another.
Key drivers for the students’ success are the opportunities and the feedback they get from their teachers.
Smaller class sizes makes it easier for teachers to have time to give students direct feedback. Every child is unique, and therefore learns differently. The size of class impacts on the capabilities of the teachers to do well and the success of the learners.
What positive things do you see in the CBC?
The new curriculum encourages teachers to think about the structures of lessons and how best they can deliver. Teachers start lessons with oral warm up sessions to put learners on learning mood, this it encourages teachers to reflect on their style of teaching.
What bad things do you see in the new curriculum?
Lack of classes and congestion might impact negatively on the success of the new curriculum. More teachers should be employed to handle the ever increasing number of learners.
Schools must be provided with teaching resources such as instructional equipment and sporting equipment. Participate in team sport is critical in developing the characters of learners. It makes them learn to lead, take responsibilities, understand and accept victory and defeat besides experiencing success and failures.
Is Kenya late in launching the CBC?
It is not too late. Teachers and learners never stop gaining new knowledge. Kenya needs to constantly look at its teaching practices and see what is not moving well and needs to be improved.
If you were involved in the initial development of the new curriculum what would have been your top most priority?
It would be difficult to come up with a good curriculum if the culture of respect for students and teachers is not prominently emphasised.
If students respect their teachers, classmates and school resources, it gives you a fantastic curriculum. Diversity is another key component. Every student is different and every teacher teaches differently. If teachers embrace diversity and students accept each other then you are on the right track for a good curriculum.
How would you describe a good curriculum?
One measure of the quality of any curriculum is the quality and calibre of students it produces. Students are not only judged by good grades but they are judged by whether they achieved full potential at all levels.
If successfully implemented, what benefits are Kenyans likely to get from the new curriculum?
Kenya will have confident learners who are able to tackle socio-economic problems affecting the society.