Columnists

Use affordable tech for CBC classrooms

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A teacher at Donyasas Primary School in Tiaty, Baringo County takes Grade 2 pupils through a lesson. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

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Summary

  • The initiative is intended to ensure that an estimated one million pupils entering junior secondary school and 1.4 million Class Eight leavers entering senior secondary school have a smooth transition.
  • What is worrying is the way the government seems to be in a rush to build 10,000 classrooms and the way the politicians have begun to jostle to have each county receive the average Sh800,000 spend per classroom.
  • Classrooms should look and feel the same anywhere irrespective of the location or region.

When the Competency-Based Education (CBC) Curriculum was introduced in Kenya in 2017, it marked a paradigmatic shift from the old education system. However, for it to be successful it requires the development of new infrastructure countrywide.

This is well captured in the words of President Uhuru Kenyatta in his recent directive to the ministries involved in the implementation of the CBC.

“To ensure we adequately prepare the nation for the next phase of Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) which is the junior high school and to further facilitate the 100 percent transition of primary to secondary school. The ministries of Education, Interior Coordination and Treasury should jointly create a framework for building of 10,000 classrooms needed to provide additional learning space,” he said.

The initiative is intended to ensure that an estimated one million pupils entering junior secondary school and 1.4 million Class Eight leavers entering senior secondary school have a smooth transition.

But what is worrying is the way the government seems to be in a rush to build 10,000 classrooms and the way the politicians have begun to jostle to have each county receive the average Sh800,000 spend per classroom.

In my view, this signals a wrong start that will culminate in a huge waste of public resources.

The framework the President referred to meant that the three ministries directed to build the classrooms should take into consideration some of the modern housing technologies and the environmental issues.

This can be done through a design challenge involving the local universities’ schools of architecture to co-create with them and come up with an eco-friendly affordable classroom depending on the different environments across the country.

And as we ride into the fourth industrial revolution, each decision that is made should be based on data. For example, there are a lot of data to show that our environment is under severe threat from housing activities. Virtually all the wetlands in Kenya are disappearing due to brick-making for housing development.

Numerous local studies point to negative environmental impacts of quarrying in many parts of the country. We must therefore see any policy statement from the perspective of sustainable development.

There are numerous examples of budget-friendly modern buildings across the world that we should be more interested in. That's because some of the most cost-effective structures are also the most innovative.

Newer technologies provide a more efficient construction process, which reduces the cost of materials, shipping, and installation.

What’s more, is the fact that many of these innovative structure designs embrace the concept of a circular economy. Therefore, if we embraced the relevant knowledge required to build practical and effective classrooms, we could halve the current budgeted price of Sh800,000.

Classrooms should look and feel the same anywhere irrespective of the location or region. And as such, there should be a policy directing what needs to be done and how the new infrastructure should be standardised.

Having a proper regulation for such developments can help reduce the cost as it leads to economies of scale if production is centralised. The argument most politicians often use is that they want their people to also have jobs hence the need to decentralise the building of infrastructures.

However, centralisation of the production of panels, for example, does not negate the hiring of local people to perform some other role in the construction.

It is time the government had a clear plan for environment-friendly development. It can start by showcasing the affordable way of building new school infrastructure.