Kenya: Misconceptions Fuel CBC Cost Debate

The Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) is now in its fifth year of implementation – with the first cohort of learners now in year five.

Recent insinuations that the curriculum is expensive are far-fetched, grossly inaccurate, and an unwanted distraction from a very well-designed education system.

There is no additional cost to it for teachers to deliver program content to a class through the CBC system.

As in the 8-4-4 system, the curriculum and educational materials that teachers need to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and skills by learners are provided by the government.

The inquiry-based approach that is characteristic of CBC requires a delivery mechanism with a high level of imagination, creativity, competence and innovation among teachers and learners.

CBC’s Community Service Learning component envisions an intense engagement of learners in their environment.

Work together

If we are to train our learners to solve societal problems, teachers, learners and parents must work together to create authentic and stimulating learning scenarios that merge academic work in the classroom with the problems of society.

Radio-Canada’s educational experience is different from that to which parents were used. Learning is more engaging, especially due to the sustained emphasis on applying rather than learning the knowledge for itself. This implies that learners have to go home to situate the lessons of their day in their everyday lives.

The current nature of homework for CBC learners, therefore, departs from the simple practice of solving theoretical problems to a more practical application at home.

CBC teachers are a guide for learners instead of being a sage on stage.

New practical solutions

Learners need to be more attentive, curious and outgoing; they must have a keen sense of valuing knowledge and a motivation to find new practical solutions to problems in their environment. Often this is achieved through chores that they have to do at home with the help of parents or guardians, especially in the early years.

This is how educational policy makers have envisioned the CBC delivery mechanism; a system that teaches learners how to think, solve problems and discover new ideas about the wonders of life and nature.

Public concerns that the CBC demand additional spending are misplaced and constitute an unnecessary politicization of a noble concept.

The knowledge application embedded in the CBC curriculum is best taught with parents or guardians who support learners with additional ideas and, in some cases, additional resources.

The school, and more so the home environment, is full of learning tools that teachers and learners are expected to use with minimal financial implications.

What teachers need to think about is how to creatively innovate around resources that don’t cost more than parents can afford.

Parents’ involvement

Parents should actively participate in the education of their own children. They cannot abdicate this responsibility when children enter formal education.

Studies show that when parents supervise, guide and support their children through education, they thrive better and achieve better learning outcomes.

Parenting involvement is more about being there to provide guidance, mentorship, and build a healthy relationship as an anchor in children’s evolutionary thought process. When parents take such a responsibility as a burden, it is clear that we miss the big picture.

To achieve effective engagement, parents do not necessarily need to be literate or wealthy. Being physically present in children’s lives and regaling them with life stories is an integral part of education.

Just asking what children are learning and talking to them when they are doing their homework is enough parental involvement in education.

It is the vision of education for all children, regardless of their socio-economic background.

CBC’s success requires creative teachers, innovative learners and supportive parents.

The author is Chief Administrative Secretary of the Ministry of Education.

About Leslie Schwartz

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