Senators on Wednesday accused Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha of exhibiting dictatorial tendencies in managing and rolling out the competency-based curriculum (CBC).
The lawmakers said some elements of the curriculum are unrealistic and urged him to halt the process and consult.
The senators were concerned that tutors, the ministry and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) are each speaking a different language “and this could affect the rollout of the syllabus”.
They said teachers and ministry officials are not well versed with the new curriculum.
The matter came to the floor of the House through a personal statement by Vihiga Senator George Khaniri, who accused the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Prof Magoha of hijacking the process.
“We need a structured national conversation on the rollout lest we regret as a country,” Mr Khaniri said.
Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion wants implementation suspended to allow time for talks, proposing a four-pronged approach.
He says piloting should continue in 2020 and 2021, and formative, internal summative and external summative evaluation reports be concluded by 2023 to allow the rollout of a revised curriculum in 2024.
“Since the ongoing rollout of CBC is illegal and has failed to secure stakeholders’ participation and confidence, the entire exercise has to be suspended immediately until the union and the ministry find a solution,” the Knut boss insisted.
Kisii Senator Samson Ongeri, who once served as Education minister, said one of the pitfalls of the rollout is the delay in formulating a policy.
“It is through the policy that one is able to cut out what he or she intends to achieve. We need collective views and input from education stakeholders,” he said.
Prof Ongeri added that teachers are not prepared for the system and that books and other teaching materials have not been adequately prepared.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei accused the government of fighting the same teachers who are supposed to implement the curriculum that is expected to replace the 8-4-4 system.
Prof Margaret Kamar urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to break his silence “as the CBC has numerous grey areas”.
“We must come up with what is acceptable internally and externally. We must be satisfied that this programme is useful,” said the Uasin Gishu senator.
“We must ask ourselves what exactly we want to change and what the effects will be.”
On Wednesday, Mr Sossion changed tune, a day after union officials directed him to engage the government on the curriculum.
The 440 members of the Knut National Advisory Council meeting in Nairobi on Wednesday told Mr Sossion and other union officials to talk to the ministry and end the crisis, which they said is affecting teachers.
The officials, drawn from 110 branches, said teachers are being interdicted for following instructions issued by the union.
Already, 280 teachers, mostly heads, their deputies and classroom teachers, have been removed from the TSC payroll.
The commission suspended the teachers when they failed to turn up for CBC training in April.
The delegates said the CBC may have problems but negotiations would end the stalemate.
Last Friday, Prof Magoha, in a bid to isolate Knut, met Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers and Kenya Women Teachers Association (Kewota) officials. The three agreed to work together.