Teachers key to saving CBC reform from collapse

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Teachers key to saving CBC reform from collapse


Pauline Musyoka teacher at Mariakani Primary School in Nairobi on September 8, 2021. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

Children don’t leave home to start school like empty slates. They carry with them context-specific knowledge, particular to their families and the wider environment in which they grew up and the upbringing that occurs, according to scholars and more recently proponent Michael Young, what are schools for?

Thus, the only reason why families and communities decide on the schooling of their children is to help them travel in space and time to acquire learning that is not local and knowledge drawn from beyond their local geographical limits, their social structures, their political and economic organization. models.

Young further argues that the primary function of a school should therefore be to provide the necessary conditions that facilitate the acquisition of this powerful knowledge that is non-local and drawn from contexts elsewhere.

The question we must then ask ourselves in the context of the reform of the competency-based curriculum (CBC) is the following; what have we done with current grade 6 learners as we prepare them to move on to lower secondary next year?

We’ve seen them carry sacks and clean markets, we’ve asked their parents to help them print out photographs of their kitchens and build their basic family tree – is that enough to justify a transition to another level of schooling?

Schooling should not just be routine; it should inspire choice, dignity, critical thinking and far higher aspirations than learners could acquire through ‘open’ learning at the household or community level, whether academic or others.

Our reform process was botched from day one when we blatantly refused to listen to teachers before embarking on the process. Well-trained and confident teachers must play the role of “town and village criers”, as Chinua Achebe would have said.

Reaching out not only to convey information, but also to consolidate knowledge from other disciplines and professionals, categorize it into domains, and plan when and how it should be conveyed to learners.

It is up to us to save the wavering reform currently underway; we need to find a way to put teachers back at the center of the action. Teachers must lead the dialogue on reform with other professionals and disciplines and not receive instructions, epithets and commandments in a matter that they should pursue themselves.

The obtaining situation is both myopic and draconian.

If we keep the thread of Michael Young, what are schools for? we then realize that we have not only brutalized the “conservative function of the school”, but that we have also ignored the central role that teachers play in the curation, weighting, appropriation of content and preservation of knowledge.

The reform-minded approach of getting CBC out of Jogoo House [Ministry of Education headquarters] and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has further compartmentalized learning and we are even promised that the same approach will be applied in lower secondary.

We have lost the healthiness of teaching and learning.

Education and reform leaders keep talking about jobs, skills, markets, the cockcrow as the goats bleat and head back into the shade as the sun goes down. None of these people have helped parents, guardians and stakeholders appreciate how their stiff necks sit with the fluidity and cruelty of local and global market forces and related concepts.

Michael Young must have been a forecaster when he concluded that addressing political grievances and educational realities remains a central educational pursuit of our time if I were to paraphrase him lightly.

Wesaya is a qualified teacher and political expert

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