When Kenyans were taking time off to wind up the year and plan for 2019, the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD) threw them an end year surprise.
On December 31, 2018, the curriculum chief placed an advertisement tucked in the middle pages of the dailies asking for a bidder to print, package and distribute core course materials for the competence-based curriculum for Grades 1, 2 and 3.
What caught my eye was the detail indicating that the closing date for the tender shall be January 22 at 10am.
This was a surprise since information shared in the public domain and assurances from Education officials pointed towards rollout and not development of material.
In trying to dig deeper, I connected this advert to another by KICD that invited tenders which closed on November 12, 2018.
The invitation indicated that the government had received World Bank support for the Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project, and KICD intends to employ consulting services using part of the funds.
The consulting services included provision of technical roll skills on development and rollout of CBC for grades 4 to 9. The KICD then invited eligible national and international consulting firms to bid.
How did we get here? Why are we placing adverts seeking technical support on developing, printing, packaging, rolling out of curriculum material late in the day while telling Kenyans to remain calm since all is well and the rollout of the CBC will be smooth?
Is it that KICD has all these materials developed and printed elsewhere but are taking the nation through some public cleansing exercise through these adverts?
The situation is worrying. Why open such tenders to non-nationals when we have been grappling with materials and content which do not capture contexts accurately while we all know that context hues define and influence learning to a great deal?
Looking at the available information on the core materials to be developed, it is surprising that English, Kiswahili and Mathematics course books are not included in the bid documents.
Then one wonders, when were these done? By whom and how were the developers of the materials selected? Was the tender advertised?
Are the books CBC compliant or was it a case of brush and polish Tusome -- Early Grade Reading material to save face?
Can the vetting results for these books be made available to interested parties for scrutiny?
Does this explain why we now have materials for CBC developed through restricted tenders under shadowy processes that stakeholders cannot follow?
What is surprising is that since September 2017, when publishers submitted materials for approval and followed it up with a second submission in April 2018, only a few of them got whole subject series approvals.
Does this then confirm our collective fears that the conceptualisation, design and development of the Curriculum Framework as was carried out by Mr Peter Hall Jones through the British Council was a project meant for non-nationals?
Further to this, editing and copy editing the Framework was undertaken by Ms Debbie Howard and Mr Peter Douglas of the British Council.
Does this explain why we now have materials for CBC developed though restricted tenders under shadowy processes that stakeholders cannot follow?
It is time we get full disclosure from the honchos at KICD since taxpayers money is going to be invested in the long-haul that this process is.
The Writer is a Lead Education and Strategy Consultant at Tathmini Consulting