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    Written by: Meshack Masibo

    The controversial new education system in Kenya is set to replace the current Standard One to Form Four with Grade 1 to Grade 12. It has been categorised into three phases: Early Years Education covering nursery education to Grade 3, Middle School Education covering Grade 4 to Grade 9 and Senior School covering grades 10 to 12. The system will set to only involve students below Standard Six. The system, which places emphasis on continuous assessment tests (CATs) over one-off examinations, will then be rolled out covering nursery, Standard One, Two and Three.
    In 2019, the system was expected to be rolled out in Standard Four to Six and in 2020 to cover Standard Seven, Eight and Form One. In 2021, the system will be extended to Form Two only and in the following year it will cover Form Three. In 2023, it will be rolled out in Form Four. With the controversy surrounding the dates of the system’s commencement it is not clear whether it will follow such a sequence.
    A National Basic Education Curriculum Framework (NBECF) implementation plan developed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) shows that the last Standard Eight candidates to sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination were set to tackle the exam in 2019, while the last Form Four to sit the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination were to be written in 2022.
    Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) is expected to develop learning materials and teaching guides for pre-primary and Class One to Six, also known as Grade 1 to Grade 6. In-service re-tooling of current pre-primary and G1 to G6 teachers in the competence based curriculum content, competencies, instruction and assessment will be done in 2017. After its implementation that was to January 2018, KICD was to emmbark on retraining upper primary teachers (Grade 4 to Grade 6) on the new system’s demands and requirements.
    In 2018, KICD was concentrating on developing learning materials and teaching guides for G7 to G9 which is Lower Secondary. Teachers teaching Grades 7 to 9 will be trained on the new system starting 2019 during which period KICD will also complete the development of learning materials and teaching guides for senior secondary covering grades 10 to 12. There will also be in-service training for teachers teaching grades 10 to 12 on the new system. The training will cover the new system’s content, competencies, instruction and assessment.
    The framework states that by the time learners complete early years education, they should be able to demonstrate basic literacy and numeracy skills and communicate appropriately using verbal and/or non-verbal modes. Under upper primary, learners will be exposed to a broad curriculum and given an opportunity for exploration and experimentation. According to the framework, at Grade 4, learners will be introduced to the optional subjects offered at upper primary so as to make informed choices at Grade 7.
    Graduates of primary school Grade 6 shall join lower secondary at Grade 7. Lower secondary will expose the learners to a broad-based curriculum to enable them to explore their own abilities, personality and potential as a basis for choosing subjects according to career paths of interest at the senior school. In the senior school category, learners in the age bracket of 15 to 17 years, will spend three years. This level lays the foundation for further education and training at the tertiary level and the world of work. One of the advantages of the system is that learners in secondary school will also specialise in the subjects they wish to pursue in tertiary institutions. A student will take two core subjects irrespective of the pathway identified.
    They include community service learning covering life skills, citizenship, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and research and physical education. The pathways provide the learner with opportunities to begin specialisation in a specific area of personality, interest, ability and career choice. KICD believes that the new curriculum will give every child in Kenya an opportunity to thrive – and no child will be left behind while teachers will be empowered to approach teaching and assessment in a more effective way that will secure high standards for all.
    The adminstration of the system faced a setback when the national roll out of the Competence- based curriculum (CBC) has been pushed to 2020, CS Amina Mohamed has announced. In a statement, she said poor planning and a hasty roll out led to the failure of the national roll out, which had been planned for January 2019. A Multi-sectoral NationalSteering Committee found several problems that hindered successful roll out.
    They include inadequate alignment in the formulation of the curriculum, teacher capacity development, selection and supply of learning materials and assessment. This led to improper coordination, Amina said. She said the majority of stakeholders are still optimistic about CBC’s ability to improve learning. The CS said the process did not carefully consider resource constraints. Teachers were not supportive of the curriculum because their role was somewhat diminished in the new structure.
    Amina said problems also arose from the procedures for developing a learning programme being deemed as complex, decreasing the quality of lesson plans and teacher interventions. “The CBC national pilot will, therefore, be extended for one more year to allow alignment in implementation, particularly, intensive in-service teacher training,” the statement said. The national roll out will take place in January 2020.

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