By Khalifa Hemed
Published October 8, 2017
As the pilot phase of Kenya‘s new education system enters its final stage ahead of its introduction in pre- and lower primary school across the East African country in January 2018, players in the education sector caution against its hurried implementation.
Wilson Sossion,Secretary General of Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), describes the introduction of the 2-6-3-3-3 curriculum as ‘a hurried process without adequate preparations and consultations with key players’.
Warning against the system being influenced by what he terms as ‘politics’, the trade unionist-cum Nominated Member of Parliament, argues that though it is teachers who are supposed to instruct and examine learners, they do not know what is happening as only a handful officers of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) and the Ministry of Education push through the agenda for the new system.
Urging the government to involve external evaluators in assessment of the new curriculum before the official roll out, Sossion said “The new curriculum needs to be piloted in January  for a whole year and then be reviewed. Once teething problems have been identified and rectified, the earliest national roll-out should be in January 2019. We need a needs assessment, a proper communication strategy, policy regulation (matter not brought before Parliament), curriculum framework and syllabus designed and content developed.”
Global standards, Sossion contends, require external evaluation of any new curriculum to provide informed implementation.
Education Minister Fred Matiang’i said the pilot of the system that is categorised into Early Years Education (Nursery-Grade 3), Middle School Education (Grades 4-9) and Senior School (Grades 10-12) and that is being conducted in 10 schools in each of Kenya’s 47 administrative units known as counties, is aimed at testing ‘the feasibility and validity of the planned curriculum designs, teacher preparation and assessment models’.
Beginning with Nursery and Grades 1-3 in January 2018, the new education system is expected to be rolled out in stages that will cover Grades 4-6 (2019), Grades 7-9 (2020) Grade 10 (2021), Grade 11 (2022) and Grade 12 in 2023.
Julius Jwan, Chief Executive Officer of KICD, says his team has already conducted the first evaluation in July 2017 and released their report that, among other things, shows teachers saying content covered under the proposed system is not only a little too much but that it is also too easy and shallow for learners, not forgetting that teaching subjects are difficult to teach without reference material.
Dr Jwan, who stresses that KICD is working closely on the new curriculum with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), says KICD is incorporating all recommendations in its work.
But this hardly satisfies Sossion who accuses the government of working with external donors with a hidden agenda of hurriedly imposing the new curriculum on Kenyans without wide consultation as provided for on matters of national interest in the constitution of Kenya.
Sossion contends that this education system will not only cost the exchequer an estimated Sh40 Billion annually but that it has failed in Malaysia and South Africa, countries he says are materially better off than Kenya.