25 April 2019

Kenya: KNUT Should Not Derail New Curriculum Rollout

Photo: Daily Nation
A teacher instructing Grade One pupils (file photo).
editorial

The Kenya National Union of Teachers' stand on the ongoing training of its members on the new curriculum is ill-advised.

It is disingenuous for a union that represents professionals to object to capacity upgrade for its members. Not when training and skills advancement is its key mandate.

The facts are as follows: Knut is opposed to training of teachers on the new Competence-Based Curriculum on the grounds that the implementation has not been anchored in law and that stakeholders have not been sufficiently consulted.

For sure, the implementation of the curriculum has widely been contested because correct processes were not followed.

Ideally, Education ministry was expected to publish a Sessional Paper through a consultative process and present that to Parliament for legislative approval.

In itself, the consultative process was expected to culminate into a national conference that was to debate and approve proposals from technical teams. That did not happen.

MANDATE

A steering committee comprising education experts, faiths, unions and other interest groups, was never gazetted, hence did not have the legal mandate to carry out its duty.

To date, it's more or less moribund. Textbooks and other teaching aids had not been prepared and pointedly, few teachers had been trained.

In short, the entire process of preparing the ground for the new curriculum took long and with the benefit of hindsight, the leadership of the ministry at the time was reluctant to push through the curriculum for inexplicable reasons.

It took the intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta to get the programme on track.

However, since January, the government has been implementing the curriculum in grades one to three, followed by grade four next year.

TRAINING

It's against the backdrop of the shortcomings that the Education ministry is mounting teacher training across the country. That is vital for effective execution of the curriculum.

Even then, questions abound about the training in terms of period and depth -- four days is not sufficient to equip the teachers with the skills they need to implement the curriculum, and a crash programme is not the best approach.

However, after many false starts, it is a step in the right direction. Inevitably, a lot of work is needed to equip the teachers with the knowledge and competence to deliver the curriculum that is essentially practical as opposed to the current one that is theoretical and prioritises cognition to application.

On balance, stopping the training because the union has not been consulted is indefensible. It does not help anyone, but rather, derails everything.

If Knut has reservations, it should discuss them with TSC and the ministry. With or without the new curriculum, teachers require regular skills upgrade to improve performance.

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