The fate of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) now lies with a task-force on education reforms recently appointed by President William Ruto. CBC has not been fully supported by stakeholders in Kenya, unlike the situation in the Ceara Municipality City of Sobral in northeastern Brazil, which is implementing a similar program.
As an effort to learn more about Brazil’s success, a team from Kenya and Pakistan visited Sobral in mid-September.The group included officials from the Ministry of Education, Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) and various education experts led by Dr. John Mugo, Executive Director of Zizi Afrique.
Sobral, the fifth largest municipality of Ceara, where 8 out 10 kids were illiterate 20 years ago, has successfully improved the literacy level of its students through the program.
During our visit to the Escola Municipal Emílio Sendim, in a Grade 2 class, we found a lesson ongoing with students reading a story in Portuguese – Brazil’s main language.
“We feel motivated when we see students reading, we work together to ensure our students know how to read and write in their early years” said Lucy Vania, the Principal.
According to Vania, if a student lags behind he or she is given extra attention by the support teachers. This is to ensure the students move at the same pace.
Support teachers have a special point in the class or outside to assist the students who need support by taking them through the reading materials.
Parents who have children in the school follow keenly the performance of their children and inquire from teachers what is needed to boost the results of their children.“We love the teachers and we support them, I am very grateful to the teachers because my son’s grades have really improved’ said a parent.
Lessons from Brazil
Principal Vania explains that in every two months, they have a meeting to be able to track students’ performance.
Students also set their targets in every exam, and the school has come with a motivation program by gifting students who achieve the set targets. Vania alludes that teachers must understand what to assess, and the purpose of the assessments, and use continuous assessments to inform areas of improvement in subsequent lessons.
The Municipal leadership made major reforms that were key to the success of education including; setting clear targets, improving management both at the secretariat level and the school level, increasing school autonomy and responsibility, introducing a new pedagogy, training teachers and increasing financial incentives to school staff.
Another critical reform was the Secretariat of Education’s introduction of external assessments of all primary school students, held twice a year.Combined with the other reforms, these assessments resulted in an education system that was constantly learning, and identifying new ways to improve student literacy.
“We did set targets and target one was to ensure that after seven years, schools don’t produce illiterate students” said Cid Gomes, Senator, State of Ceara.
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Usawa agenda 2021 national assessment of literacy and numeracy revealed that only two in five Grade 4 learners are meeting or exceeding expectations of reading a Grade 3 appropriate English text.
Brazil Case Study
Bringing Sobral case study to Kenya as debate on CBC implementation continues, Sobral is much ahead on the implementation of a similar education system. Also teachers should get the needed support to ensure success of CBC in Kenya.
“CBC can be implemented perfectly and that we should not lie to ourselves that we can’t implement it because it is expensive. If Brazil can, then we can also implement it by borrowing a leaf,” said Dr. Emmanuel Manyasa, Director, Usawa Agenda.
The same sentiments were echoed by Dr. Mugo, who believes that for a successful curriculum delivery, provision of human and material resources is key, and that appropriate pedagogical approaches for learning of all children must be put in place and leveraging in technology.
As per findings of the World Health Organization (WHO), Ceara is highly efficient in the use of the limited resources to generate education outcomes. Ceara spends less than a third of what is used by other top States spenders in Brazil, and yet achieves higher national education quality index compared to the richer States.
The task-force led by Prof. Raphael Munavu is set to collect views that will guide the continued rollout of the CBC and guide the implementation of Junior Secondary School (JSC) next year.