Yes, offer grants to private schools for transition CBC

A new CBC classroom at Ruiga Girls High School in Meru which was inaugurated by Ministry of Education Human Resources Officer Paul Kagira. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

The implementation of competency-based curriculum (CBC) has weathered many storms since it was introduced to replace the old 8-4-4 education system. This was expected, since human beings are slow to accept change. This is especially the case after getting used to doing the same thing for years or even decades.

The Department of Education, the Teachers Services Commission, teachers, parents and learners themselves deserve a pat on the back for undertaking what initially seemed an impossible task. Parents have taken more roles and interest in their children’s learning while urban students now have to improvise items such as brooms and other costumes needed for the CBC.

Some, including teachers’ unions, believed the system could not work and even urged the ministry to abandon it. However, the government and the CS of Education George Magoha were adamant that the time for change had come. Critics might say that the new method of teaching was forced down the throats of teachers, parents and students. The jury is still out on whether the system will take our children a notch higher in today’s fast-paced world full of technological advancements.

Today, the Private Schools Association of Kenya has been advocating with the government for grants or loans to help private schools build more classrooms to accommodate students entering junior secondary under the CBC system. But CS Magoha gave a quick no, insisting that the government’s obligation only applies to public schools. He said the Treasury had already disbursed 4 billion shillings to build around 10,000 classrooms by March.

Seventh-grade students will move on to lower secondary after March, leading to apprehensions of shortages of classrooms and infrastructure for the large numbers expected. There should also be enough teachers fully trained in the new curriculum. For a smooth transition, new books are also needed. Therefore, we find the request for private school grants to help implement CBC to be a plausible idea.

Private schools complement the education mandate of the government and have played a huge role in training our human resources. The so-called academies also help to decongest public institutions, especially in densely populated areas. The ministry should therefore offer friendly engagement with private institutions, especially on the new curriculum.

This will ensure a win-win situation and Kenyan learners will be the biggest winners in the long run. As has been discovered, CBC is an expensive system that requires everyone to be on deck to ensure success. Academies that receive government grants and use them prudently should become role models for others. And with the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of private schools are struggling financially. A helping hand from the government will help and ensure a less stressful transition to lower secondary and CBC implementation.

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