Teachers key to rescuing CBC reform from collapse – Business Daily

Pauline Musyoka a teacher at Mariakani Primary School in Nairobi on September 8, 2021. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG
Children do not leave home to start schooling as empty slates. They carry with them knowledge that is context-specific, particular to their families and the larger environment in which they have grown and the nurture that is happening, according to scholars and more recently Michael Young the proponent of the question, what are schools for?
Therefore, the singular reason why families and communities decide on the schooling of their children is to help them travel in space and time to obtain learning that is not local and knowledge that is drawn beyond their local geographical ridges, social structures, political organisation and economic models.
Young argues further that the primary function of a school should therefore then lie in assembling the necessary conditions that facilitate the acquisition of this powerful knowledge that is non-local and drawn from contexts yonder.
The question we then need to ask ourselves under the competency-based curriculum (CBC ) reform is; what have we done with the current Grade 6 learners as we prepare them to transit to Junior Secondary next year?
We have seen them wear sacks and clean markets, we have asked their parents to help them print photographs of their kitchens and construct their basic family tree — is that enough to warrant transition to another level of schooling?
Schooling should not just be routine; it should inspire choice, dignity, critical thought far higher aspirations than the learners could acquire under the ‘loose’ learning arrangement at the household or community level, be they academic or otherwise.
Our reform process was botched from day one when we refuse blatantly to listen to teachers before embarking on the process. Well-trained and confident teachers need to serve the function of ‘town and village criers’ as Chinua Achebe would have put it.
Reaching out not only to pass information but to consolidate knowledge from other disciplines and professionals, sequence it in domains and plan on when and how it should be delivered to the learners.
For us to rescue the teetering reform currently underway; we have to find a way of returning teachers to the centre of action. Teachers need to lead the reform dialogue with other professionals and disciplines and not receive instructions, epithets and commands in a matter they should be prosecuting themselves.
The obtaining situation is both myopic and draconian.
If we keep the thread from Michael Young on, what are schools for? we then realise that we have not only brutalised the ‘conservative function of school’, but we have also disregarded the central role teachers play in curating, weighting, appropriating content and preserving knowledge.
The reform approach of giving us CBC out of Jogoo House [Ministry of Education headquarters] and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has further compartmentalised learning and we are even being promised that the same approach shall obtain in Juniour Secondary.
We have lost the wholesomeness of teaching and learning.
The education and reform leadership keeps talking about jobs, skills, markets, from cockcrow to the time goats bleat and return to the shades at sunset. None of these people have helped the parents, guardians and stakeholders appreciate how their stiff-necks sits with the fluidity and ruthlessness of the local and global market forces and related concepts.
Michael Young must have been a foreseer when he concluded that the resolution of the political demands and the education realities remain a critical educational pursuit of our time if I were to paraphrase him slightly.
Wesaya is a trained teacher and policy expert


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