Lack of funds to support the new curriculum, poorly trained teachers and failure by the government to anchor the review process in law are the key issues behind the postponement of its roll-out, initially set for next month.
A report tabled in a closed-door meeting of the national curriculum steering committee held at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) showed that the review process was to cost Sh365 billion for the first four years, an amount that was not budgeted for in the current financial year.
The report also proposed a totally new academic system dubbed 2-9-3-3, entailing two years of pre-primary education, nine years of primary education, three years of secondary education and another three in university.
The government has been developing a 2-6-3-3-3 system to replace the 8:4:4 system of education. No decision was, however, reached on the system to be put in place during yesterday’s meeting chaired by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.
Ms Mohamed, however, gave in to demands of the steering committee that the roll-out be pushed to 2020.
Piloting for Class One to Three will, however, continue next year while pupils in Class Four will continue with the 8:4:4 curriculum. It will be the third year of piloting the curriculum.
The steering committee team is drawn from religious organisations, universities, secondary schools, civil society organisations and teachers' unions.
It is tasked with providing guidance on policy requirements for the different levels of education relating to development, implementation and assessment of curriculum for education and training.
While making her announcement on Tuesday, Ms Mohamed did not consult the committee, a move that attracted protests from them.
Before attending the meeting, Ms Mohamed held another meeting with the ministry’s top leadership, led by Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang, external evaluators and top KICD officials, to take a position after her revelation on Tuesday that the country was not ready for the new curriculum.
On Saturday, the ministry advanced the idea that implementation of the curriculum be suspended indefinitely to allow for proper planning which Ms Mohamed had indicated was needed.
The CS was also not happy with the criticism that had been directed at the ministry over the issue and called for constructive engagement.
She also asked stakeholders to reach out to her in person so that they can share their concerns.
The ministry’s unpreparedness for the roll-out was also evident as Ms Mohamed announced a raft of measures to ensure the success of the programme, including taking over key roles that the ministry had left to KICD, which was spearheading the process.
The CS said the national pilot will be extended for one more year to allow alignment of implementation, particularly intensive in-service teacher training.
Ms Mohamed said the government will finalise and launch the National Curriculum Policy Framework in January 2019, as well as present the Sessional Paper on reforming Education and Training Sector in Kenya, before Parliament in February when the Houses resume sessions.
“Once passed, it will ensure a new instructional paradigm in the Kenyan education system,” said the CS, adding that the launch of the National Education Sector Strategic Plan for the period 2018-2022 will be done in February, 2019.
She also announced the establishment of a Secretariat within the ministry to coordinate the priorities, activities, and communication and implementation infrastructure to support the CBC.
“Coordination in the next two months must be done by all the stakeholders, together. The Directorate of Quality Assurance and Standards be tasked to rigorously track the implementation of the CBC in all the sub-counties across the country. Training of Quality Assurance Officers for this purpose will commence in February 2019,” said the CS.
She went on: “The curriculum focus at the Ministry of Education be re-organised to secure supervision and evaluation of the CBC in all public, private and special needs institutions across the country. Step-up intensive teacher-training programmes across the country. Training of tutors for teacher training colleges will commence in January 2019 and will follow a college-based teacher training model.”
The CS also announced that a dedicated fund for teacher training in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years would be negotiated and set aside.
“Link Digital Literacy Programme to the CBC to secure comprehensive training on digital literacy as a key component of the CBC. Develop an assessment framework with clearly spelt-out competencies at every level. KICD to provide crisp competencies to guide this process to allow the Kenya National Examinations Council develop and release the Assessment Framework for Grades 1-3 in June, 2019,” said the CS.
The decision was arrived at after a report by external evaluators, led by former Moi University Vice-Chancellor Laban Ayiro, which poked holes in the whole review process.
The report concurred with an internal evaluation report that was done by KICD in October.
Some of the issues that emerged were: there was inadequate alignment between the CBC formulation, teacher capacity development, selection and supply of learning materials and assessment, which led to inadequate coordination and ad hoc workshops in place of teacher training, compounded by absence of relevant materials.
The external evaluators also pointed out that the curriculum was poorly planned and hastily introduced in schools and the process did not carefully consider resource constraints and was not given the necessary strategic interventions at the inception stage.
“The role of the teacher in the curriculum design is marginal, leading to lack of by-in and comprehension of the structure by teachers. The procedures for developing a learning programme are deemed complex, decreasing the quality of lesson plans and teacher interventions. Assessment tools are unavailable in all the schools assessed,” read the report by Prof Ayiro's team.
The shocking report also revealed that there was inconsistency in the understanding and implementation of the constructs and standards of CBC and there was lack of understanding and inability to infuse core competencies (particularly digital literacy), pertinent and contemporary issues (PCIs), and assessment (approximately 64 per cent).
Other shortcomings that were identified included; inadequate skills and understanding of assessing CBC and lack of alignment between curriculum and assessment policy and structures.
“Assessment of CBC in the study lies at eight per cent across grade PP1, PP2, Grade I and Grade II across 46 counties in the country. Tools developed for assessment by KNEC are non-existent across all schools in the country,” reads the report.
It goes on: “While it is heartening to note that the training outreach stood at approximately 65 per cent, orientation, training and development of teachers and follow-up support was inadequate. 63 per cent of the teachers felt that the training was too short and, therefore, had little impact.”
There was also the issue of unavailability of learning support materials, alarming shortages of teachers (45 per cent nationally for schools sampled) and resources to implement and support CBC; and inadequate recognition of curriculum implementation and supervision as the core business of the Quality Assurance Directorate.
Prof Ayiro's team also recommended reorganisation and reinforcement of curriculum functions, both in the ministry and its relevant State agencies.
At KICC, Deputy President William Ruto said the government was committed to rolling out competency based programmes at all levels of the country’s education system.
Addressing teachers at the Kenya Post Primary Teachers Union (Kuppet) 20th Annual Delegates Conference, Mr Ruto said the government is keen at ensuring that schools produce learners that meet the market demands.
“We want to make our education system more skilled and relevant; that is why we are moving from the old education system to introducing competency based curriculum in our institutions,” said Mr Ruto.
He said the government continues to support the education sector by increasing funding each year.
“The government is keen at implementing a curriculum that will test learner’s competencies and prepare them for the industry, rather than having a curriculum that is exam-based,” said Mr Ruto.
He said the government is committed to ensuring that the education system responds to the needs of the country, adding that unlike the old curriculum, the new one will ensure exams are not the determining factor.
Kuppet secretary general Akelo Misori said there is need to have a robust curriculum which is well articulated and well-funded.
“Suggestions to delay the curriculum should be well thought out; the government must ensure that teachers are well equipped and that the relevant infrastructure is put in place,” said Mr Misori.
Additional reporting by Faith Nyamai