CBC Implementation Lessons Kenya Can Apply From Brazil’s Succesful Curriculum
The fate of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) is now in the hands of President William Ruto’s education reform task force.
In Kenya, stakeholders have not fully supported CBC, in contrast to the situation in the Ceara Municipality City of Sobral in northeastern Brazil, which is implementing a similar program.
A team from Kenya and Pakistan visited Sobral in mid-September to learn more about Brazil’s success.
The group was led by Dr. John Mugo, Executive Director of Zizi Afrique, and included officials from the Ministry of Education, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC), and various education experts.
Sobral, Ceara’s fifth largest municipality, where 8 out of 10 children were illiterate 20 years ago, has successfully improved the literacy level of its students through the program.
During our visit to the Escola Municipal Emilio Sendim school, we discovered a lesson in progress with students reading a story in Portuguese – Brazil’s main language – in a Grade 2 class.
“We feel motivated when we see students reading, we work together to ensure our students know how to read and write in their early years,” said Lucy Vania, the Principal.
According to Vania, if a student falls behind, the support teachers will give him or her extra attention. This is done to ensure that all students move at the same pace.
Support teachers have a designated area in the classroom or outside to assist students who require assistance by guiding them through the reading materials.
Parents who have children in school closely monitor their children’s performance and inquire from teachers about what is required to improve their children’s results.
“We love the teachers and we support them, I am very grateful to the teachers because my son’s grades have really improved’ said a parent.
Principal Vania explains that they hold a meeting every two months to track students’ performance.
Students set goals for themselves in each exam, and the school has implemented a motivation program that rewards students who meet their goals.
Vania implies that teachers must understand what to assess and why, and use continuous assessments to inform areas for improvement in subsequent lessons.
Setting clear targets, improving management at both the secretariat and school levels, increasing school autonomy and responsibility, introducing a new pedagogy, training teachers, and increasing financial incentives to school staff were all major reforms implemented by the Municipal leadership.
Another critical reform was the introduction of twice-yearly external assessments of all primary school students by the Secretariat of Education.
These assessments, when combined with the other reforms, resulted in an education system that was constantly learning and identifying new ways to improve student literacy.
“We did set targets and target one was to ensure that after seven years, schools don’t produce illiterate students,” said Cid Gomes, Senator, State of Ceara.
According to the Usawa Agenda 2021 national assessment of literacy and numeracy, only two out of every five Grade 4 students meet or exceed expectations for reading a Grade 3 appropriate English text.
Bringing the Sobral case study to Kenya as the debate over CBC implementation continues, Sobral is far ahead of the game in terms of implementing a similar education system.
Teachers should also receive the necessary support to ensure the success of CBC in Kenya.
“CBC can be implemented perfectly and that we should not lie to ourselves that we can’t implement it because it is expensive. If Brazil can, then we can also implement it by borrowing a leaf,” said Dr. Emmanuel Manyasa, Director, Usawa Agenda.
Dr. Mugo expressed similar sentiments, believing that adequate human and material resources are essential for successful curriculum delivery, and that appropriate pedagogical approaches for all children’s learning must be implemented while leveraging technology.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) findings, Ceara is highly efficient in its use of limited resources to generate educational outcomes.
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Ceara spends less than a third of what the other top states in Brazil spend but achieves a higher national education quality index when compared to the wealthier states.
Prof. Raphael Munavu’s task force is set to collect feedback that will guide the continued rollout of the CBC as well as the implementation of Junior Secondary School (JSC) next year.