The objective of the new curriculum being implemented in lower primary school is to impart skills and values besides conventional knowledge.
Its central tenet is to enable learners to practice what they learn and relate learning to local environments so that education has meaning in an individual’s life.
This is why it is called Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) — a marked departure from the 8-4-4, which, though in earlier years was meant to be skills-based, was inadvertently turned into competition- and knowledge-oriented learning.
Under the 8-4-4, premium is placed on performance at the end of the primary and secondary school cycle.
Ranking of candidates and schools has become the standard practice, creating a rat race to the top.
Spin-offs of this include examination cheating, which had been rampant until four years ago, when the government put its foot down and rooted it out. Not that the leaks have been completely sealed, however.
Contrastingly, CBC is methodical in implementation, requiring a thorough understanding of the inherent philosophy and expected outcomes.
It is a return to the basics, where learning is rooted in local experiences and knowledge translated to reflect realities around the learner.
Demonstrated acquisition of knowledge, skills and values is prioritised over exam performance.
Understanding this context is important because there is a lack of information on the new curriculum and wherever it has been given out in detail and in a manner the public easily comprehends.
Until a few days ago, the country was made to believe that Grade Three pupils, the CBC pioneers, were set to sit a national exam that was to begin today. Yet, in actual sense, there is no exam.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has now come out to explain that what is being done is an assessment to establish whether or not the learners have acquired the relevant knowledge, skills and values and, for that reason, have the capacity to progress to the next level or require some remedies.
Coming from the background of exams, anything to do with testing or assessment is seen as a competitive endeavour — where learners, teachers and parents have to prepare aggressively.
There is a sense of a cut-throat race that elicits anxiety and apprehension. That is what has been happening in the past few weeks.
The CBC is still mired in mystery; hence, it is incumbent on the Education ministry to intensify public communication in a bid to clarify matters and keep everyone abreast of the new curriculum — how it is being implemented, expected outcomes and parents’ role.
Importantly, that exams are not core to CBC but mastery of knowledge and application of skills and values.