The new education curriculum, which is being implemented in preschool and lower primary, faces a crisis of confidence three months after its launch.
Implementation of the 2-6-6-3-3 system, which is supposed to replace the 8-4-4 system, has been marked by fits and starts, confusion and significant tepidity.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers has, in a story elsewhere in this paper, asked the government to stop the implementation, saying teachers have not been adequately trained on it and learning and teaching materials are not ready.
Knut says its survey in 37 of the 47 counties shows schools are not ready for the for the competency-based curriculum.
But Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, who, as Education Cabinet Secretary, had last year postponed implementation to 2020 but changed it to this year under pressure from stakeholders, says there is no going back.
This vigorous exchange between policymakers and the implementers only helps to cast doubts on the country’s readiness for such a momentous change that involves millions of learners and their parents and thousands of teachers and other stakeholders.
Granted, the new system is grounded on firm education principles that promise to produce all-rounded citizens with intellectual, emotional and physical competencies.
It also has the capacity to identify and nurture talent in an overall educational experience. One of its most popular tenets is that it is devoid of overemphasis on examinations, which has been the hallmark of the 8-4-4 system.
The country needs the new system because it is much richer, modern, relevant and makes education enjoyable without the rigidity of academic performance in national examinations at the expense of key talents in areas such as arts and sports.
It is therefore unfortunate that such a prudent change cannot be managed competently in a manner that inspires confidence and respectability.
If the teachers, who are the principal change agents, say they do not feel confident in their own skills to handle the change, why shouldn’t their views be taken into account?
If Knut’s argument is to be believed, the new curriculum has surely fallen at the first hurdle, and the Education ministry must go back to the drawing board.
Still, the fact that a sessional paper on the new curriculum has not been presented, debated and approved by the National Assembly shows that the change is being adopted in a rushed and illegal manner.
The ministry must make a tough decision to postpone the implementation altogether until the teachers are properly trained or organise quick refresher courses for all teachers involved.
For a start, the ministry ought to address the public to stem the doubts planted in Kenyans’ minds about the system.