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Education reforms may yield stillbirth

Saturday July 20 2019

Teachers follow proceedings at Uhuru Gardens

Teachers follow proceedings at Uhuru Gardens Primary School in Nairobi on April 23, 2019 during the launching of training on new curriculum by the Education ministry. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JONATHAN WESAYA
By JONATHAN WESAYA
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The appointment of a task force to oversee the crystallisation of education reforms long after implementation has started is an indictment that things are going south faster than stakeholders in the sector thought.

The inability of the leadership in the sector to deal with robust information sharing and public engagement on key issues in a way that demystifies the whole reform package is an enough pointer.

The appearance of the Cabinet Secretary in the media and before the Parliamentary Committee on Education, the responses to inquiries by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development and Kenya National Examinations Council bosses while trying to break down for the public the forthcoming Grade 3 assessment has left Kenyans more confused than enlightened.

EXAM-ORIENTED

The CBC curriculum framework is touted as one that will move our education system away from the exam-oriented (knowledge focus) 8-4-4 to a skills-focused system. What is confusing the public and what the leadership of the process has not explained is why there is a national assessment at Grade 3 when we are talking about moving away from examinations.

At this point in time, the public has not been told the difference between assessment and examination when both are undertaken on a national scale.

This therefore begs the question; do the implementers believe, understand, and have the capacity to walk the talk and guide the nation through this reform process?

Another issue that remains grey is where junior secondary shall be domiciled come 2023. This is a matter that needs to happen quickly since it may necessitate re-classification of schools, teachers, as well as infrastructure and resource allocation.

As matters stand, the Education ministry and KICD are leaving many of these issues to the task force that has just been inaugurated and will start working this month and complete its term at the start of July next year.

Even without an extension of the term of the task force (which is highly likely looking at its amorphous terms of reference), the sector will be left with only one year to plan for placement, another year for assessment and transitioning placement.

TRANSITION

Transition placement also raises the question of how junior secondary schools will be managed; will they be under primary or secondary schools? Who will constitute the management and teaching staff?

Another issue is on the pathways proposed for learners – arts and sports sciences and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The leadership seems unsure of cost, infrastructure, technical manpower and skills and other preparations needed to ensure efficient placement of learners in 2025 when they graduate from junior school into senior school.

The curriculum framework talks of segregation according to pathways but, from a planning and project management perspective, we are still in the dark.

We cannot claim to be preparing learners who are globally competitive when our process of churning them out is not competitive and is nowhere near global best practice.

The legitimacy of the reform process wanes every day an official appears before the public and fails to answer very basic questions or to share in-depth information to inspire confidence in the public.

The writer is an education and strategy consultant at Tathmini Consulting; [email protected]

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