The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has stepped up its opposition to the new curriculum saying it would not support its implementation.
In a paid advert in local dailies, Knut secretary-general Wilson Sossion says the ongoing rollout of competency based curriculum (CBC) in pre-school and lower primary is illegal in nature, and a violation of the Constitution.
“Worth noting, there is no statutory instruments to anchor the exercise, no Commission gazetted to manage the process, and the exercise is in total contravention of Public Participation Act (2018),” says Mr Sossion.
He adds that the content of CBC is heavily borrowed from Prof Douglas Odhiambo task force report which was otherwise rejected in 2012 by stakeholders.
“Worse still, it is laughable that the Ministry of Education while reforming the Education Curriculum, benchmarked with countries like Tanzania, South Africa, Malaysia, Zanzibar, Ghana, Uganda, Burundi, among others where CBC has failed. Kenya also benchmarked with South Sudan which borrowed the 8-4-4 Education system,” reads the paid advert.
However, Mr Sossion insists that Knut would support all initiatives made by the government to reform the education sector, including reviewing the curriculum "as long as it is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4, which is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
“Knut, therefore reaffirms that education is a public good, fundamental human right and a basis for guaranteeing the realisation of other rights. It is essential for peace, tolerance, human fulfilment and sustainable development,” adds Mr Sossion.
The teachers' union accuses the ministry of Education of failing to secure stakeholders involvement and participation.
“CBC requires parents, guardians, members of Boards of Management and the school community to be sensitised on every aspect of the new curriculum. Since the ministry and its agencies have failed to address themselves on this, Knut has no business supporting implementation of CBC."
Knut says most public schools lack the necessary infrastructures, and enough trained teachers.
“Knut would not support the implementation of CBC because the implementers of the curriculum (teachers) lack the technical know-how of CBC as the Trainers of Trainers (TOTs) lack the prerequisite skills and competencies to interpret CBC designs,” says Mr Sossion.
Mr Sossion says the requirements for the new curriculum are far above what the country can afford at the moment due to financial implications.
“This is because the implementation of CBC requires small class sizes as per UNESCO recommended standards for personalised learning, which means more classrooms, libraries, workshops, computer rooms and more schools have to be constructed. Most public schools lack infrastructures, at least three teachers per class are required which Kenya cannot afford presently because of acute shortage of teachers. Kenya faces perpetual shortage of teachers, hence CBC would be a nightmare if introduced. There is no feasible plan to recruit more teachers,” states Mr Sossion.
He said the poor state of public schools "is only advantageous to private schools which are now doing lucrative business at the expense of public education."
Knut has issued several demands which include; the government creating a new national philosophy of Education for the 21st Century to address the big question: Education for What?
He also want the government to establish through a Gazette Notice a Commission comprising "curriculum experts, education policies developers and other knowledgeable Kenyans with proper credentials in educational matters to evaluate the current curriculum and consider other educational reforms in the country, and give possible recommendations."
The Commission, he says, should be given clear mandate and terms of reference.
“The National Government should adopt fully innovative competency approaches already tried and tested in literacy and numeracy globally. Benchmarking should be done in specific countries with impeccable education history,” says Mr Sossion.
He also want the Education ministry to commission highly accomplished and experienced curriculum evaluators to produce high quality evaluation report to help the Cabinet Secretary for Education make informed decisions.
However, early this month the Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha insisted that rollout of the new curriculum is on despite opposition from teachers union leaders.
Prof Magoha said there is no turning back and warned critics that they are only wasting their time.
"I will personally take a leading role in ensuring that this exercise succeeds and I will not rely on reports," said Prof Magoha.