• Kenya is rolling out a syllabus with more extracurricular activities than bookwork
• Some parents find this good while others are irritated and lack the resources required
The new syllabus Kenya recently introduced has sparked outrage in recent weeks as painstaking assignments and accompanying costs get on parents’ nerves.
Known as the Competency-Based Curriculum, it was designed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development and launched by the Ministry of Education in 2017.
The CBC emphasises the significance of developing skills and knowledge and applying them in real-life situations. It currently runs from Grade 1 to 5 in a new 2-6-6-3 system that is slowly phasing out the 8-4-4 syllabus.
Many teachers and parents complain that the curriculum was hurriedly implemented, with some calling for it to be scrapped. Education CS George Magoha, however, says the system is here to stay.
Already, a petition has been filed in court, contesting the programme’s implementation as pressure piles on the ministry to review it.
Education CAS Sarah Rutto last week said parents have a role to play in aiding the learning process of their children and they cannot run from it. She called on engagement between school management and parents to ensure reasonable demands in issuing of assignments.
The KICD has assured that it will consider some of the concerns raised by parents over the implementation of the CBC.
“A curriculum is not fixed on stone; we are cognisant that after every cycle, we are supposed to review,” KICD chief executive Prof Charles Ong’ondo said.
“We are already working on reviewing the early years up to Grade 3, and our quality assurance teams are at work.”
The Star spoke to some parents on their concerns. Below are the mixed answers.
I think the CBC is great, though it has its challenges. My son was asked to make a shaker and go with it to school the next day.
I had to move around the neighborhood looking for sticks that could be used to make the handle, and that took me about an hour. The daunting task, however, was looking for bottle tops for the tune. I had to go with my son inside local pubs, asking the workers if I could have bottle tops. That's a place I would never have set foot myself, leave alone in the company of my son. I searched the pubs and hotels in futile.
In retrospect, however, doing all that together, then sitting down to make the shaker, was a great bonding time for us.
Today, I never throw away used boxes or containers because you never know when they will come in handy.
CBC should definitely be maintained as, during the activities, your child learns so many things. It also forces you as a parent to create time for your children.
The CBC is a great system. It encourages bonding between children and their families. And the activities keep children busy. They don't spend much time on the screenFrancis Mureithi
The biggest task I have experienced with CBC was when my daughter was asked to make a Wandindi musical instrument. We needed sticks, strings, an empty container and either skin or a piece of cloth.
Finding sticks at our home is easy, but we couldn't find skin, so we used a piece of cloth. After tying up everything together as directed, the Wandindi wasn't producing any tune. We tried again and again.
Another time my child was asked to make a soccer ball. Way back, we would use plastic bags, but with the ban on plastic bags, we had to improvise. So we used pieces of clothes instead.
I think CBC is a great system as it encourages bonding between children and their families. From that activity, I got to understand my child more and she, too, got to know me. Besides, the activities keep children busy. They don't spend much time on the screen.
Schools also ask parents to buy too many things. If that can change, then I believe the system will be greatJames Kamau
I rarely ever helped my children with homework until CBC. Before, my daughter would do everything herself.
It may not sound as difficult but for me, the daunting task was when my daughter was asked to draw their family tree. She wanted to know her roots, including her clan and village. I did not know my clan so together, we called my parents to ask.
My parents explained that I belong to the Mumbui clan. They also explained how the clans came about and gave us details of the other six clans among the Kikuyus.
By the end of the phone call, not only had my daughter done her assignment but we had all learnt new things. The entire family.
I really do not understand the CBC, but I think it is a good system. The only challenge with it is that it is quite costly. Children break for only a few days and school fees is required. Schools also ask parents to buy too many things. If that can change, then I believe the system will be great.
My Grade 1 son was asked to take 10 feathers to school on a Friday, but he waited until Sunday to inform me. I live in an apartment and my son had never seen a live chicken before. I phoned my friend, whose neighbour keeps chicken, and we were allowed to go pick the feathers.
I could see that the neighbour was quite uncomfortable seeing us pluck the feathers. My son was so excited to see and touch a chicken. We ended up buying that chicken and went home with it live to show his siblings.
We also used it as a lesson on how to slaughter, remove the feathers and prepare chicken for cooking.
That was the best time I have had with my child this year. There were so many real-life lessons to learn in such a fun way. I didn't know that the elder child feared chicken until that day and together, we helped her overcome that fear.
The government should definitely fund CBC to make it more efficient.
The most challenging task for me was writing songs. My Grade 1 son was asked to write different types of songs in their culture. There were play songs, funeral songs, political praise songs and lullaby songs.
Since the teacher had told the children they could write the songs in their vernacular language but have it translated, that's what my son wanted.
I do not know many songs in English or Kiswahili, leave alone in mother tongue. My mother was not able to help.
I had to wait for my father to come back from work and help, but he was equally blank.
We spend so much time finding the songs, writing and translating, but as if that is not enough, the boy insisted that we teach him the tunes in case the teacher asked him to sing.
It was such a fun time singing together, learning the different voices, new words in vernacular. What was even more fulfilling, however, was when I heard my son sing 'Nyandolo' to his little sister two nights after. I was surprised he could remember the song but even happier that he could apply it.
CBC is very efficient but expensive. I saw a Golden Bells hymns book in high school, while my son owns one now.
Previously, I would only sign a diary to confirm that my daughters did their homework. But today, I have to leave work early to rush home for my daughters' homework.
In the beginning, I ignored my younger daughter's assignment and asked that she does it herself. The next morning, she refused to go to school, saying her teacher would beat her if she didn't take the doll they were asked to make. It was 6.30 am and the bus had already arrived. I had to get to work late, making a doll.
I made the doll from old clothes in the house but what caught my attention was how neat the stitches she made were. I did not expect that from a Grade 2 pupil, but I only realised it wasn't the first time she was doing it. She had been copying her grandmother while she does repairs for the clothes every weekend when she visits.
Her elder sister does it even better.
My son, who is in Grade 4, was asked to have a video of him taken at a crusade, acting as a preacher, in one assignment sent over WhatsApp. This time the instructions were to the parents and it was required in two days.
Where I stay, there are many crusades that take place, but with Covid-19, I barely ever see any.
I had to call my friends and relatives, asking them to be on the lookout for crusades in their areas so we could go there.
Luckily, we found one near our home and I took the boy. He was a bit shy but with encouragement, he started preaching and quickly got into the role.
It was a very funny scene but I had brought along his friends to psyche him up and boost his confidence.
I recorded the video and shared it on WhatsApp.
Not the entire class is given the same homework. Often, they are divided in groups and given different tasks.
I think that was a great activity to boost a child's confidence. CBC is really helpful.
I was so shocked when one day, my Grade 4 daughter came home with an assignment asking that I record a cock crow in the morning and share it via WhatsApp.
We do not keep chicken and neither do any of my neighbours.
I called the teacher and told them the assignment was untenable. I was glad she understood and gave a different assignment.
CBC is alright but sometimes a little extreme. Teachers should not make a nine-year-old wake up at 4am to record a cock crow. Some assignments are ridiculous.
I would prefer if schoolwork ended in school so children have time to play.
My greatest challenge was finding the sun to take shadow pictures.
My Grade 1 son was asked to hang out with his parents in the sun and observe our shadows, but there was no sun at all that day. We were also to do different poses, like jump as someone takes photos of our shadows.
We waited the next day but the weather got even worse. Since the assignment was due, we improvised ‘the sun’ using a torch to cast our shadow.
My son was not convinced that we did the assignment right since the instructions were that we go out in the sun.
It was an easy task but it was dependent on the sun, which as a parent, I have no control over. My son, however, saw me as a hero since I could ‘create’ a shadow without the sun as their teacher had taught them.
However, it took a lot of work to convince him that there are many ways of achieving the same results.
I have always done assignments with my children, so I don’t see much difference, except that there are more extracurricular activities than bookwork, which is a good idea.
It’s only unfair to parents who cannot access some resources.
Edited by T Jalio
Parent moves to court to stop CBC, cites economic burden
Ang'awa says Magoha's actions are unconstitutional and prejudicial to the children of Kenya
Why we will defend CBC in court— Parents association
A case filed seeks to compel Education ministry to halt curriculum implementation