Public hearings on education reforms kicked off yesterday countrywide with stakeholders poking holes into the implementation of the competency-based curriculum (CBC).
Many of those who made presentations before the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER) cited high cost of implementation, inadequate training of teachers, transition, inequality and lack of infrastructure as some of the impediments to CBC.
During a public hearing at Mandera Secondary School, residents called for a return to the 8-4-4 system even as improvements on CBC continue.
“CBC was a rushed programme which was forced on the parents and teachers, but if given time, and all the inputs from every stakeholder considered, then it can help our society,” Mr Mohamed Issack, a resident said.
According to him, the new education system has failed to take off properly in Mandera County due to teacher shortages.
“The few teachers we have are not even trained to teach CBC. How can Mandera be ranked with other counties that have the necessary resources? All the assignments in this CBC involve buying materials for them to either do at home or at school. Most parents in Mandera are poor and we cannot afford this daily expenditure,” he said.
Ms Asli Alio painted CBC as meant for the rich. “My children have to move around in the neighbourhood looking for someone with an internet-enabled phone so that they can learn some things,” she said.
Other proposals from county residents included the return of the school feeding programme, training more teachers from Mandera and having the government provide funds to schools “so that anything needed for learning can be bought by the school”.
The county Mandeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Uba Gedi proposed a reduction of the subjects taught under the curriculum.
In Kwale County, the PWPER team was led by Technical University of Mombasa vice-chancellor Laila Abubakar. A resident, Richard Onsongo, argued that many teachers had not been trained, while schools had inadequate infrastructure.
Mwanahamisi Omar, the headteacher of Magutu Primary School, said parental involvement was a challenge in the county since many children are being raised by their grandparents.
However, John Wainaina dismissed calls to postpone or do away with CBC, saying that the country needed to adopt skills-based learning to be competitive.
“CBC is hands-on learning that allows our children to identify their talents and apply their creativity as they learn,” he said.
In Turkana County, runaway insecurity and inequalities in education were cited as major challenges facing implementation of CBC. The PWPER team, led by chairperson Raphael Munavu, heard that schools in banditry-prone areas are frequently closed, with children among those killed in attacks.
“The government should beef up security at all our schools along the border and allocate special grazing grounds for drought-hit pastoralists forcing their way into schools,” said Knut branch chair Kenyaman Ariong’oa.
County director of education Josephine Walela said the county faces challenges of poor infrastructure, lack of food and inadequate funding.
Nyandarua County Governor Kiarie Badilisha called on the government to increase the budget for the implementation of CBC so as to lessen the burden on parents.
In Samburu County, Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association’s Abdikar Ismael warned that institutions will be overwhelmed by the double intake in January next year.
Special schools representative Grace Seneiya told the task force to subsidise the cost of Braille machines. She said Samburu has one special school that cannot accommodate students from all over the county.
Stakeholders in Busia County said CBC should be simplified to reduce demands on parents and that junior secondary school should be domiciled in primary schools considering the age of learners.
Tomorrow, the PWPER teams will hold hearings in Mombasa, Makueni, Nyeri, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Bungoma, Nyamira and Homa Bay counties.