Confusion has hit the Education ministry over the implementation of the new curriculum with the publication of a policy paper yesterday to guide the shift from the 8-4-4 to 2-6-3-3 system.
Schools are at a loss about the changeover because of the hurried preparations and lack of adequate teaching and learning resources.
Textbooks and other learning and teaching materials are not ready and neither has the government set up a budget for the new curriculum.
Still, the Kenya National Union of Teachers has threatened to call a strike next week to protest the ongoing mass transfers, saying they are disruptive and punitive.
So far, the giant union has rejected the implementation of the new curriculum, terming the process hurried and poorly planned.
Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion says teachers have not been trained and schools do not have the required resources.
County governments, which are responsible for pre-school education, have rejected the new plan on the grounds they do not have the funds for the roll-out and the teachers have not been properly trained.
The chairman of the Council of Governors, Mr Josephat Nanok, has been categorical that devolved governments will not implement the education plan because they do not have funds.
Counties are perennially starved of cash and subjecting them to a new round of spending without any allocation is not tenable, the Turkana Governor says.
The Sessional Paper, dated December 2018, seeks to provide a framework for rolling out the new curriculum.
Titled, ‘Reforming Education and Training for Sustainable Development’, the document is to be debated and approved by Parliament to pave the way for formulation of a policy to implement the curriculum.
However, Parliament is on recess until February and schools are opening for the first term in five days.
If the ministry goes ahead to implement the curriculum next week, it will be doing so without legislative approval, prompting questions of legitimacy.
Although dated December, the sessional paper was developed earlier but has never been publicised or submitted to the National Assembly for legislation.
Last week, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed announced that the 2-6-3-3 syllabus would be rolled out in January when schools reopen.
Mid this month, the minister told a Senate committee that the government was not ready and declared that the curriculum would be put on hold for a while as a determination is made on the start date.
A few days later, she met the National Steering Committee on the Curriculum Review, the agency charged with advising and shepherding the new system, and it was resolved that the rollout would be in 2020.
This meant the ministry would continue with the piloting of the curriculum in 2019.
The resolution was informed by a report of external evaluation that established that the country was not ready for a full changeover because teachers have not been properly trained and a way of testing and assessing the curriculum, which is meant to be continuous, has not been developed.
Importantly, there was no budget and legislation. At least Sh365 billion is required to set off the new system from pre-primary (two years) to Grade Three.
The constant change of position on the implementation schedule of the new curriculum is the cause of disquiet among education players.
Teachers, book publishers and education managers are not sure of what to do when the new term begins.
Investigations by the Nation indicate that brokers and dealers in books and materials have been pushing for the implementation of the new system because of vested business interests.
The curriculum will be implemented gradually in pre-school, which runs for two years, and then lower primary that runs from Grade One to Three.
The strength of the new syllabus is that it focuses on competence — skills — as opposed to the current one that is theory-based and puts premium on passing examinations.
In addition, the proposed system provides various options for talent exploitation.