In this interactive series, we invite our readers to send in questions to select public figures.
Answers will be published in the next print and online editions.
This week, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) Director Julius Jwan responds to your questions:
1. The new curriculum has been received with a lot uncertainty in the education sector. It is a wait-and-see situation from almost all stakeholders. What is the KICD doing to inspire confidence moving forward?
Dr Nderitu Nyaga, Egerton
The KICD has continuously engaged stakeholders in all the steps of curriculum development both in the media and in different educational fora.
We intend to improve on this within the year, including regional engagements, to ensure as many Kenyans as possible are enlightened on the new curriculum.
2. What criteria will be used to place learners in secondary schools when transiting from primary school now that there won’t be a national exam at the end of Grade Six as proposed in the new curriculum?
Maina wa Muturi, Nyeri
The Kenya National Examination Council (Knec), which is mandated to conduct national assessment, is developing a competency-based assessment framework that will inform transition from one level to another.
The criteria will be articulated in the framework and presented to all stakeholders.
3. Sir, how will the new curriculum reduce work load and modify the organisation of learning differently from the way we have been used to the much maligned 8-4-4 system?
Andrew Maranga Ratemo, Malindi
The new curriculum will reduce workload in Early Years Education.
But most importantly it is about different learning approaches, which emphasises competencies and skills.
These will be embedded within the content of various subjects.
4. Why was there hurry to rollout the new curriculum yet from the look of things, we were not prepared?
We are starting the 5th week since schools re-opened yet even the curriculum design and core text books are not in schools. Why was the training of teachers also hurriedly done?
Mudenge G. O, Siaya
The process is not hurried. It began in 2016 with the needs assessment survey and development of the Basic Education Curriculum Framework.
It has followed all the curriculum development processes including piloting.
The teachers for early years were prepared during the induction workshops to use teacher handbooks that we developed to assist them apply their creativity to use these materials.
Nevertheless, the curriculum designs are currently being distributed to schools.
Teacher capacity building programmes normally take place during the holidays to ensure the children are not left unattended during the term.
The Teachers Service Commission will continue to train them as it undertakes their Continuous Professional Development programmes.
5. A group of teachers under KICD worked on the one course book policy selection for schools in Kilifi for three months, yet up to now no payment has been done. Why has it taken that long to pay them?
Jane Wanjiru, Nyeri
The KICD regrets this delay. The allowances were to be paid by the Ministry of Education to the teachers.
We are following up with the ministry to ensure this is done soonest possible.
6. While KICD and the government have been intent on implementing the new curriculum, one of the key education stakeholders, the parents, know very little or nothing about the new system, except for the excerpts they get from media reports.
What programmes are there to enable the parents understand and fully appreciate the need for the new curriculum and what it entails?
Maggy Sakwa, Mbale
The curriculum framework has a strong component on parental empowerment and engagement.
One of the activities therein is the emphasis for schools to organise parental forums to sensitise them on the implementation process and the roles of parents in the learning of their children.
The regional engagements will also include parents.
Equally, we are liaising with the civil society organisations in the education sector to sensitise the parents.
7. How will the bulk of those who rank lowly in national exams benefit from the new curriculum?
The spirit of the new curriculum removes competition among candidates from national assessment.
So, there is no ranking. The mission is to nurture every learners’ potential and therefore no learner shall be left behind.
The pathways in senior secondary school shall cater for all learners.
8. Thanks for the splendid job you are doing at KICD. My concern is the shortage of books and other learning material that is being experienced at the classroom level, especially in rural schools. What measures have you put in place to ease this problem for full implementation of the new curriculum?
Thirikwa Nyingi, Timau
The government is committed to provision of learning materials in all schools.
Part of the money sent to primary and secondary schools is meant to be used to purchase textbooks and other learning materials.
Publishers also started providing approved materials to bookshops across the country.
9. I am a teacher and my question is about the implementation of the new curriculum. How does KICD make sure that we implement it whereas there has not been proper training of the teachers?
Solomon Gatobu, Maua
The KICD has inducted about 170,000 teachers in all the 47 counties.
The first phase targeted teachers for Early Years Education (Pre-Primary 1 and 2 as well as Grade 1-3).
The agency will continue to induct more teachers as the plans for the full rollout continue.
Further, capacity building will be done by the TSC during the continuous professional development programmes.
10. Concerning the planned change of curriculum, is the government ready in terms of funding since it looks a bit more expensive to implement?
Jeff Chepkwony, Chepalungu
The Ministry of Education has come up with a national steering committee that oversees the preparation for implementation of the new curriculum.
The government is fully committed to supporting the curriculum reforms through the expansion of infrastructure in schools and recruitment of more teachers.
11. Hallo sir, what happened to the Orange Book KICD used to provide to all schools? Secondly, KICD is approving so many textbooks for the same subject to the extent that a classroom teacher wonders which one to use.
Is there a limit as to the number of books to be approved per class per subject?
John Kivaa Mutua, Kitui
The Orange Book is provided by the Ministry of Education.
The textbook policy recommends six titles per subject.
The government has started the process of buying one textbook for every child in every subject.
There are also supplementary books listed in the Orange Book.
The book contains information on how schools can select the titles that are suitable for them.
12. Much has been said about the rolling out of the new curriculum and most Kenyans are ready to support it.
It is however confusing when we hear some of the reactions of teachers’ union leaders.
Why do these leaders seem not ready to participate in the rollout? Is it that they were not consulted?
Komen Moris, Eldoret
The leadership of the teachers' unions are members of the National Steering Committee that has guided the curriculum reforms.
In the last committee meeting the unions were present and supported the ongoing national pilot of the new curriculum and the planned rollout in 2019.
13. As per KICD guidelines, is an ECD Diploma holder qualified to teach in the lower primary? If yes, has there been discussions with TSC so that they can consider such applications?
Susan Kamonde, Kiambu
Early Childhood Development Diploma holders are qualified to teach in lower primary schools.
However, teacher employment is the mandate of TSC.
14. The government early this year launched a Sh7.5 billion free textbook programme for schools yet some head teachers are still asking parents to buy books and from specific shops.
Is there a disconnect somewhere?
Could you explain whether the free textbook programme caters for all the required books in schools?
Otieno Onyimbi, Awendo
The programme provides textbooks for six subjects in secondary schools (Mathematics, English, Kiswahili, Chemistry, Biology and Physics) and four in Std 7 and 8 in primary schools in Phase One.
The rest of the textbooks will be provided in the next phases.
The textbook programme is to ensure a 1:1 ration of books to learners in every subject.
Meanwhile, schools have been receiving funds to purchase textbooks since the start of free day secondary education - including this year.
15. You hinted that last year was the last time for students to sit for KCPE but as it is now, KCPE is here to stay for the next five or so years. What prompted your assertion and don’t you think that such hasty pronouncements could be misleading to the public?
Benard Nyang’ondi, Mombasa
I was misquoted on this matter and the correction has since been made.
16. I understand that KICD must assess and approve all programmes that are taught in schools (for example, IGCSE, ACE, American curriculum and extra-curricular programmes for soft skills). What is the process that one must follow to get this assessment and approval from KICD?
Paul J. Muchwenge, Nairobi
One of the mandates of KICD is to evaluate, vet and approve for application in Kenya, any local and foreign curriculum and curriculum support materials for basic education.
Any interested party should submit their curriculum or programme to KICD for approval before implementation.
17. Thank you for rolling out the new curriculum in our schools. I work for a training organisation that would like to complement your efforts and support your efforts by introducing our excellent soft skills programmes for extra-curricular activities to learners in upper primary and lower secondary schools.
Does KICD approve such programmes and how does my organisation apply for approval?
Mary Wairimu, Ongata Rongai
Such programmes should be approved by KICD before implementation.
We also collaborate with other institutions and individuals willing to support curriculum implementation.
For further information contact the Institute for guidance.