President Uhuru Kenyatta defended the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) on Wednesday, during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Kenyatta stated that CBC will boost competitiveness and is one of his greatest achievements, with the goal of preparing the country to produce decent and rewarding jobs.
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"We are implementing ambitious programs to prepare the country… Our investments in roads, air, and port infrastructure, and critical health care facilities throughout the country, are the most extensive and ambitious in our history," he said.
Many parents and other stakeholders complain that CBC requires too much work and expense for parents, with many of them lacking time and money to contribute to the system's success.
The CBC program is currently facing a legal stumbling block after High Court advocate Esther Ang'awa filed a petition in court challenging its implementation.
Ang'waya claimed that CBC has imposed a financial burden on children, teachers, parents, and caregivers. Her argument is that changing the 8-4-4 system is illegal and ambiguous because it converts a primary school into a secondary institution without a clear transition process.
The CBC's national rollout began in January 2019 with Pre-Primary I and II, as well as Grades 1, 2, and 3 in lower primary. The 2-6-3-3-3 curriculum was billed as a game-changer in the country's education system as it seeks to fill gaps identified by the 8-4-4 system. It has yet to be fully accepted.
"We have also delivered a national competency-based curriculum and on universal access to schooling, which will further boost the competitiveness of our workforce," Said President Kenyatta on Wednesday.
Some parents believe the program was rushed through without public participation from all stakeholders, and others believe it does not promise a bright future for students.
Parents accused CBC of being too engaging, claiming that teachers were giving students too many assignments, forcing them to intervene. Some private schools require students to bring reams of printing paper, more than ten textbooks for each subject, and other stationery. Schools in urban areas are the most affected.
The National Parents Association's chairman, Nicholas Maiyo, has however stated that the organization intends to join a lawsuit to defend the Competency-Based Curriculum.
The new curriculum is currently being phased in, with Grade 5 serving as the pilot class. The National Parents Association also dismissed recent parental concerns about the curriculum's implementation requirements.
“Those are not genuine parents… we are the genuine parents and we are in full support of the curriculum. Where will the seven million children in preprimary school go if the curriculum is suspended?” Maiyo posed.
Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) on its part has promised to address some of the concerns raised by parents about the implementation of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).
KICD said that the spirit of CBS is to leverage readily available materials to facilitate learning. CEO Charles Ong'ondo stated that CBC has nothing to do with students being required to bring a stack of textbooks to school.
Despite the raging debate over the curriculum, Education Secretary Prof George Magoha has dismissed CBC critics, claiming that the program, which began in 2018, is being implemented by “very competent technocrats.”
High Court has directed over 10,000 private schools, Katiba Institute, and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) seeking to be enjoined in the CBC case to file a formal application.
Despite the opposition, Magoha stated that the new 2-6-6-3 curriculum would be implemented. The Education Cabinet Secretary has already hired Senior Counsel Philip Murgor to represent him in court, where he was named as a respondent alongside the Ministry and other state agencies.
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