Prof Charles Ong’ondo, chief executive officer of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development(KICD) answers questions from members of the public via Sunday Nation.

Many parents are concerned that they may not be able to fund the education of their children under the Competence-Based Curriculum, which is too demanding and expensive. What is your comment on these concerns? Komen Moris, Eldoret

The constitution in Article 53 provides for free and compulsory basic education for every child. CBC has been misconceived to be a system that demands a lot in terms of cost. That is far from the truth. The government through the Ministry of Education has provided textbooks for all the subjects to all public primary schools. The ministry has also provided ICT gadgets to primary schools through the digital literacy programme. Almost all primary schools are resourced with two laptops, a projector, an external server and tablets that can be shared across Grades 1-6.

The demands by some schools that parents purchase unnecessary learning materials is not based on CBC. The curriculum designs provide for suggested learning materials as per the context of the institutions. Teachers are encouraged to use materials available in the environment.

Parents should, therefore, question any demands to purchase learning materials that are unnecessary. Equally, parents should not do homework for the learners. If the child is not able to do the homework, parents should discuss that with the teachers directly or through their associations. We encourage teachers and learners to be creative, improvise materials and use resources that are easily available in their immediate environment.

Parents should not condemn wholesale the curriculum implementation process. Their concerns about some excesses have reached KICD and we are addressing them.

How can teachers participate in KICD television and radio programmes? Does KICD pay for content created by teachers?  Wachiye Dennis, Bungoma County

The lessons are scripted by subject panels composed of practising teachers and curriculum developers. This is to ensure that the content is of good quality.  The teachers are selected from the national subject panels that KICD establishes from time to time for the development of curriculum and curriculum support materials. They are then trained on TV and/or radio teaching. The teachers who fit well and are willing to appear in mass media are involved in the lesson delivery and recording stages in radio and TV studios. Yes, KICD pays workshop participation fees to teachers for scripting and recorded presentations based on approved rates.

Only 16 months are remaining before the first group of CBC students joins junior secondary, are we ready for this transition? Fred Sagala, Eldoret

The State Department for Implementation of Curriculum Reforms is overseeing the ongoing transition as recommended by the Taskforce on Enhancing Access, Relevance, Transition, Equity and Quality for Effective Curriculum Reforms Implementation.

At KICD, we are prepared for the rollout in terms of the required curriculum designs for Junior Secondary School and the requisite curriculum support materials. We are collaborating with TSC and other implementing agencies to ensure teachers have the necessary skills for the level.

Kenya is hosting millions of refugees from Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia. The Refugee Bill passed by Parliament last year allows their children to attend local schools from nursery to university. Are you developing a curriculum tailored for their needs? Dan Murugu, Nakuru

As indicated, the law allows learners to participate in the Kenyan school system. However, it does not give us jurisdiction to develop a curriculum to address the aspirations of other countries. That said, the curriculum offered in Kenya prepares learners to acquire knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that will enable them to become global citizens.

The Competence-Based Curriculum has been marred by confusion as stakeholders feel it is being rushed to replace 8-4-4 system. Is it possible to develop a hybrid curriculum that incorporates the best of the two? Dan Murugu, Nakuru

CBC was not rushed. As per the KICD curriculum development cycle, curriculum should be reviewed every five years. 8-4-4 came into effect in 1985. Reviews were done in 2002 (primary) and 2007 (secondary). However, these reviews did not substantially address some of the issues that affected education and hindered the achievement of learning outcomes. The findings of the summative evaluation of the 8-4-4 in 2009 indicated that while it was conceptualised to enable learners to be self-reliant, this had not been achieved. Generally, the system focused on examinations at the expense of developing learner competencies. Furthermore, there were overloads and overlaps that needed to be addressed, what CBC is doing.

There is no empirical evidence that teachers have opposed the implementation of CBC. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that in any change process, there will always be teething problems as implementers and stakeholders adjust to the change. Yes, there are a few challenges that we are addressing progressively in collaboration with other agencies. We are determined to succeed.

CBC has abolished national examinations for Grade 6 candidates. What criteria will be used to assign junior secondary school vacancies in national, regional and county secondary schools. J.K. Mathenge

In CBC, the focus in learning is the application of relevant knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to perform tasks successfully as per the set standards. The paradigm shift in CBC is the balance between formative and summative assessment.

The Taskforce on Access, Relevance, Transition, Equity and Quality recommended that at the upper primary level, learners will be assessed both formatively and summatively. Based on this recommendation, the Kenya National Examinations Council has developed a competence based assessment framework for basic education.

The assessment for upper primary will be comprehensive to address mastery of multifarious competencies. The mode of assessment will entail a combination of teacher-administered formative assessment in Grades 4, 5 and 6, and a summative assessment by Knec at the end of Grade 6. The proposed weighting is 60 per cent for formative and 40 per cent for summative assessment. The results of this assessment will be used for placement of learners in junior secondary school. MoE will provide a criteria on the selection of learners to various schools as advised by the task force on access.

The new curriculum was meant to involve parents in the education of their children. However, there are parents who are illiterate. How does the curriculum take care of this situation? Bernadette Waswa, Nairobi

Parental empowerment and engagement is one of the guiding principles in the reformed curriculum. It is inaccurate to allege that parents have to be literate to play their roles. For a long time, even before formal schooling, parents and guardians have educated their children. Under CBC, they are still expected to actively participate in the holistic development of their children in and out of school. We have provided guidelines on parental engagement. The booklet is available on the KICD website

What is the difference in roles between TVET Curriculum Development, Assessment and Certification Council and KICD? Kennedy Mwasio, Murang’a

KICD develops curricula for all levels of education, save for university level. The roles CDDAC plays are a duplication of the mandate of KICD (curriculum development) and KNEC (assessment and certification). The government directed that the curriculum function reverts to KICD, while assessment and certification be taken up by KNEC. The process of streamlining the relationship between these agencies is on.

What plans do you have to ensure smooth transition of learners to the university level? Ouma Omito, Bomet University College

It is expected that the first CBC cohort (currently in Grade 5) will transit to university in 2029. KICD, in collaboration with MoE and other agencies, including the Commission for University Education has planned for a robust engagement with universities on implications of the CBC for university education. A number of universities have already created CBC implementation units and many of them have already organised engagements with KICD. More such engagements are lined up.