NEW CURRICULUM IN LIMBO

Knut, Magoha war threatens new syllabus

KNUT has ordered its members to stop teaching the new competence based curriculum and instead revert to the 8-4-4 system

In Summary

• Knut accuses CS Magoha of arrogance in the rollout of the new syllabus 

• The boycott by teachers could hurt the government's efforts to implement the CBC

Education CS George Magoha
Education CS George Magoha
Image: JACK OWUOR

The implementation of the new curriculum is in limbo following a vicious war pitting Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion and Education CS George Magoha.

In a no-holds-barred attack, Sossion yesterday ordered teachers to boycott teaching the new curriculum and instead revert to the 8-4-4 curriculum, in what could be a major setback to the state's plan.

The move by the over 200,000-member union is seen as a deliberate scheme to arm-twist the government into giving in to their raft of demands.

Sossion responded in kind to Magoha's blistering attack on him on Wednesday. The trade unionist accused the abrasive CS of "arrogance and intolerance" in pushing for a "dead" competency-based curriculum.

He told Magoha that what he is "pushing for is dead on arrival," in what signalled a showdown with the government.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said he wants the new 2-6-6-3 curriculum implemented without a hitch. His hiring of Magoha was seen in this light.

"We are fighting it to the end. If you want war then we are ready to go full force... We hereby direct all our members to revert to teach using the outcome-based curriculum and forget about the new curriculum," Sossion stated.

He spoke in Nairobi after a meeting of the union's top brass convened to deliberate the way forward after Magoha's Wednesday launch of the CBC policy in a ceremony boycotted by Sossion and his team.

"We are not flower girls to be called and cheer a document that has been prepared by a few ministry officials and brainwashed stakeholders," Sossion said at the Kenya National Union of Teachers headquarters.

He went on: “It sounds strange and unprofessional for CS Magoha to purport to be launching the National Curriculum policy that will anchor CBC before the summative evaluation of the pilot phase of the curriculum is conducted to establish whether what was piloted is better than what was there before 8-4-4." 

 

The government last month launched a crackdown on teachers sabotaging the rollout of the CBC and in some instances arrested and charged them for incitement.

The Teachers Service Commission has so far interdicted more than 100 tutors on claims they attempted to paralysis CBC training for tutors, triggering a standoff with Knut.

Lifting the lid on the boiling tension, Magoha on Tuesday cancelled scheduled talks with Knut officials without giving any explanation, further fuelling the conflict with teachers.  

Sossion termed the launch of the policy paper  as "putting the cart before the horse."

"If we get it wrong, then we are going to destroy the lives of many children. We have to remain vigilant and bold when there are gaps," the Knut official, who is also a nominated MP, said as if predicting the fall of the new curriculum.

Sossion, who has been a thorn in the flesh for Magoha, said the new curriculum breaches the law and that the pilot phase of the project should have been evaluated before it is effected.

He stated that no report was produced during the pilot phase of the project.

“When the pilot was conducted during the wrong time, the middle of the academic circle (June to October) did we get any report?” he asked.

Magoha said on Wednesday he would "crush" anyone who attempts to stand in the way of implementation of the new curriculum.

"I don't play politics and will crush anybody who will play politics with the new curriculum," he said in a chilling warning to Sossion and other union officials.

The theatrics over the new curriculum unfolds at a time the system is set to be rolled in grade four next year. Knut's threats might stonewall the implementation.

Yesterday, the Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association backs the implementation of the curriculum.

"Before Magoha comes to crush those opposed to the new curriculum we will have crushed them... It is in bad faith to be against this curriculum because this is the future of our education," KEPSHA secretary David Mavuta told the Star yesterday.

Ironically, Sossion claims the rollout will benefit private schools as they have the financial muscle to propel the implementation.

"Private schools are eating from a big spoon and will benefit from the rollout of the new curriculum because they know public schools lack the infrastructure to implement," Sossion said.

An internal assessment conducted by Kenya Institute of Curriculum development in July 2017 during the trials, affirms Sossion's claims.

The curriculum started being implemented in January after a one-year nationwide experimentation.  It targeted pre-primary, grades 1,2 and 3 learners.

The standoff comes barely two months after Magoha took office.

Knut has proposed that the new curriculum be shelved until 2023-24.

"We see very far. The devil is in the details and we will not support a curriculum that will destroy the lives of children of 'Wanjiku'," Sossion.

He continued: "CBC is in the head of Magoha and KICD is not in Kenyan classroom. It is meant to destroy the poor."

Vested interest

Those familiar with the development of the new curriculum argue that amid the theatrics lies more than what meets the eye.

This is projected by a proposal by KICD  to have junior high school accommodated in primary schools, a proposal reportedly opposed by TSC and some principals.

Critics argue that if adopted, the proposal will expand primary schools to accommodate nine classes while secondary schools will remain with three classes. The principals oppose the proposal and want all high school classes to be accommodated in the current secondary schools as this would see a windfall of capitation for them.

On the cost, KICD proposes that those teaching in the defunct classes 7 and 8 be re-trained and promoted to teach in secondary schools under the new curriculum.

KICD wants classes 7 and 8 teachers elevated because the primary school cycle will be shortened to six years.

The two classes will be dropped from primary school and incorporated in junior secondary school in what appears to be the heart of Knut objections.

Magoha has previously hit out at the union for opposing the competency-based curriculum, saying the train has left the station and there will be no turning back.

"We will not waste time talking about things which are not important concerning the competency-based curriculum," Magoha said.