The goal of CBC is to produce holistic individuals with competencies, values, knowledge, and skills necessary to succeed in a highly competitive world.
By Ivy Maloy
The Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) under the 2-6-3-3 system of education in Kenya was unveiled in 2017 to replace the 8-4-4 system of education which has served Kenya for 32 years. The introduction of 2-6-3-3 has received a lot of attention and provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the end of an Era in Kenya’s Education where ranking and cut throat completion has been at the center of the sector.
The anxiety that parents experienced in the past as well as the candidates was devastating and affected the country to the extent that parents engaged in cheating such as taking their children to academies but registering them for Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams in rural public schools in order to secure national school places. There were cases where the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) reported that over 10,000 candidates ‘missed’ exams when the truth of the matter was that those were candidates who made double registration in academies and rural poor public schools in order to get selected to national schools.
The issuance of index number one became politicized and some parents would bribe teachers in order to have their children given index number one, because some principles of high schools had the notion that index one were better than other students and wanted to populate their schools with so-called the best. So flawed was Kenya’s 8-4-4 system that ranking in exams became a disease and parents moved their children from one school to another due to ranking.
Private schools started bad games and gambled with lives of children by setting up at least two examination centers where weak students would be registered in different centers while clever students would be registered in flagship schools which often carried names of famous academies and ended up in the newspapers as top performers. Such schools ended up attracting many students through the deceptive notion of ranking. Spaces at national schools were competed for initially on merit but later taken up by corruption.
Passing exams was not enough to earn a candidate place at prestigious national schools and soon after, many elite public schools such as Kenya High and Alliance were filled with children of who is who in Kenya, and school principals became millionaires where an admission letter was sold for as much as kshs 100,000. The resulting result was that principals used the money to grease the hands of KNEC officials in order to be rankled high.
KNEC developed a system of moderation in which top schools rotated among the top ten performance for public and private schools. The then Education Minister Fred Matinagi’i and KNEC Chairman George Magoha teamed up to produce natural results without moderation and produced ‘upsets’ in the sector.
These competencies are embedded in all the learning areas at all the levels. The main difference is that 8-4-4 focuses more on mastery on content, which encourages rote learning, while CBC focuses on learners’ performance of skills and competencies that are observable. According to the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, a change of the curriculum was necessitated by a needs assessment of the curriculum viewed against the aspirations of the nation. Also recommendations by previous commissions on education since 1964 had never been fully implemented, leaving gaps in the offering of education.
CBC fosters on the development of crucial soft skills such as Communication and collaboration, Critical thinking and Problem solving, Imagination and creativity, Citizenship, learning to learn, Self-efficacy and Digital literacy. Towards the end, learners perform countless investigative, explorative, and experimenting activities in the course of learning. Such soft skills give learners a massive competitive advantage when competing for job and business opportunities upon graduation.
The CBC comes with its own assessment system, Curriculum Based Assessment(CBA). Competency-based assessment measures a student’s competency against previously set standards of performance. Unlike formal exams, CBA involves a set of methodical processes that collects evidence to help analyze learner’s progress and achievements. Assessment consequently involves the learners performing certain tasks to determine how well they can complete them in a practical scenario.
The goal of CBC is to produce holistic individuals with competencies, values, knowledge, and skills necessary to succeed in a highly competitive world. It is a curriculum to stimulate the minds, hearts and souls of learners; not stuff them with facts and figures.