Why teachers fear new curriculum


The departure from traditional approaches to teaching is the source of the anticipated conflict between Knut and ministry.

New Education Cabinet Secretary, Prof George Albert Omore Magoha, will soon realise that some teachers are up to no good. Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials want him to abandon the new Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) developed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

They sense danger in the no nonsense surgeon whose tenure at the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) brought to the fore the level of incompetence in the teaching profession as exposed through mass failures in national examinations.

A CBC is an approach to teaching systems, assessment, grading and reporting that are based on learners demonstrating the knowledge and skills ability in the unit of learning before moving on to another unit. It is different from the current existing approach as it focuses on a single learning outcome or competency at a time, which is usually a small component of a larger learning goal.

Unlike in the past when students moved through the system like in a factory production, in the new curriculum, a student will not be allowed to proceed to higher levels until the desired learning outcomes are adequately demonstrated. There are benefits to this approach in the sense that it will be difficult for students to cheat through the system since the assessment of each student is complex involving both formative (where the teacher continuously gathers student data to adjust teaching and learning as needed) and summative approaches (where the teacher evaluates the student after teaching makes judgment on the mastery of a skill or competency).

In previous systems, the teacher often ignored slow students especially those needing special attention. With the right investment in technology, where the students adopt self-learning methods, the system will eventually empower the students to take control of their learning journey.

The teacher therefore becomes a facilitator who gathers assessment data and prescribes solutions based on individual competencies. Highly motivated students may move ahead of the teacher and could skip some units if they demonstrate the mastery of the knowledge and skills in any particular unit. This departure from traditional approaches to teaching is the source of the anticipated conflict between Knut and Prof Magoha.

The new system will force the teachers to invest longer hours in class and adopt life-long learning in order for them to be relevant in class. Many of them will find their competencies to be inadequate given the fact that the new system will demand that they be aware of the many online sources that support learning as well as involving the parents to support learners.

Remedial lessons

There are just a few teachers familiar with supplementary online material. Many will not have the time for remedial lessons that in other countries require the services of another teacher.

The system will be so demanding that in my view, there is no amount of preparation capable of bringing some of the teachers to the level of competence required in the new curriculum.

The new system must be in place to ensure inclusivity and get rid of solely measuring success based on the performance in exams and forcing students to result to rote learning.

Last year, only 14 percent of the 660,204 candidates qualified to join university. It is the reason why the 2010 Constitution emphatically stated in Article 55 (a) that the State shall take measures, including affirmative action programmes, to ensure that the youth access relevant education and training.

In 2012, the Ministry of Education embarked on aligning education to the Constitution, the vision 2030 and the global standards. Sessional Paper Number 2 of 2015 gave the clear policy mandate to the ministry to start the reform process. In 2016, KICD conducted a needs assessment survey leading to a recommendation that the country needed 21st century skills.

The previous system could not therefore have been sufficient to meet the emerging demands. Knut was aware of the development and if indeed they were opposed right from the start, they would have expressed their opposition much earlier. New curriculum is our bridge to the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution.