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Why Okiya Omtatah challenged new education system

Friday January 4 2019

Activist Okiya Omtatah

Activist Okiya Omtatah at the Milimani Law Courts on September 14, 2018. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAM KIPLAGAT
By SAM KIPLAGAT
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Activist Okiya Omtatah wants the High Court to suspend the proposed changes to the new education system for reasons including lack of preparation and public participation.

In a case certified as urgent by Justice Chacha Mwita, Mr Omtatah further argues that the changes were rushed and that the authorities are not prepared to roll out the Competence Based Curriculum.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

The government wants to replace the 8-4-4 education system with the 2-6-3-3-3.

But the activist notes further that parliament does not have a policy and a legal framework for changing the system and that the government has not set aside funds.

In the petition, Mr Omtatah adds that the government did not publish and publicise a policy paper on the proposed changes and that it never invited public commentary ahead of the rollout.

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“The changes are rushed. There is hardly any public understanding of what the new system means and requires, and there is even less preparedness on the part of the government,” he says in the sworn statement.

Mr Omtatah also points out that schools, members of the public and other stakeholders are at a loss for lack of adequate teaching and learning resources.

He notes textbooks and other materials are not ready and that counties, which are responsible for pre-school education, have rejected the new system on grounds that they do not have funds and trained teachers.

“In a nutshell, it is impossible to evaluate the relevance, suitability and the country’s readiness for the system. The proposed changes are being implemented in total disregard of the distribution of the education function between the national and county governments, as stated in the fourth schedule to the Constitution,” he says.

ABOUT-TURN

In December 2018, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed told a committee of the Senate that the government was not ready for the national rollout of the system.

Ms Mohamed declared that the launch had been postponed from January 2019 to a date that she said would be determined.

A week later, however, after meeting the National Steering Committee on the curriculum Review, she changed the position and announced that the system would be rolled out as planned earlier.

The committee is charged with giving advice on the new system and shepherding its implementation.

After hearing Mr Omtatah's arguments, Justice Mwita said the case needed to be heard during the ongoing recess.

He therefore directed the activist to serve all parties and return for directions on February 18.