CBC is here to stay, High Court rules

CBC is here to stay, High Court rules

CBC is here to stay, High Court rules

Eight years after Kenya abolished the 8-4-4 system, a three-judge High Court bench unanimously decided Thursday that the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) could not be eliminated.

The case was originally filed by attorney Esther Ang’awa and later taken over by attorney Nelson Havi. Despite this, justices Hedwig Ong’udi, Anthony Mrima, and Anthony Ndung’u threw out the majority of the case and concluded that the Basic Education Act needed to be amended in order to be in line with the curriculum.

The justices mandated that within four months, the Ministry of Education revise Section 41 of the Act.

“The first respondent to initiate the process of amending Section 41 of the Basic Education Act to align the structure with the CBC within 120 days. The first respondent will make regulations as mandated of him within 120 days,” ruled the bench headed by Justice Ong’udi.

The court also ordered that the Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu should appoint a working committee to ensure the recommendations of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms are fully implemented.

The CS was required to act within 90 days.

The three judges had singled out at least 10 flaws in the case. One of the accusations made against CBC was that, because of the quantity of books needed, it was an environmentally harmful system that promoted child labor.

However, they found that there was no evidence to support the claims.

In addition, the court found that the concerns raised in the case ought to have been raised on the fora that had been provided for by the government before CBC commenced.

The judges also said it would be illogical to order learners currently studying under the system to revert to the old system. According to them, the best interest of Kenyan children is to continue with the system as the government continues to make necessary amendments.

In the case, the government defended CBC, explaining why the 8-4-4 system was seen to be deficient. Its lawyers argued that reverting to 8-4-4 would also amount to killing the country’s economic blueprint, Vision 2030.

The case was initially filed by Esther Ang’awa. In her case she argued that the CBC had placed a heavy economic burden on parents and its implementation should be halted until her suit was determined.

At the core of the lawyer’s case was the argument that the system was rolled out without proper preparations and consultations with key stakeholders.

Anga’awa later left the case to Nelson Havi who argued that teachers were ill-prepared and the implementation of the new curriculum would harm children’s future.

According to him, CBC did not “cater to the needs of the country”.

But in its response, the government argued the new curriculum catered for the needs of children and that secondary school leavers would earn knowledge, skills, competencies, and attitudes to succeed in the labour market.

Ang’awa had sued the then Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, the Kenya Institute Of Curriculum Development (KICD), the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), the National Assembly and then Interior CS Fred Matiang’i.

The government explained the intense preparations and investments that had gone into the CBC since 2019 and capped it with the successful implementation of the curriculum in some counties, especially during the piloting stage.

TSC described how it has trained and sensitized instructors in order to get them ready for the curriculum implementation.

The administration was also supported by Knut and the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet).

Julius Jwan, the PS for Early Childhood and Basic Education at the time, was the primary subject of Havi’s lawsuit. Jwan contended in court filings that the introduction of CBC was motivated by the requirement to possess the necessary abilities to industrialize Kenya. Jwan contended that the new system was benchmarked against nations like South Korea and Malaysia.

The PS outlined Kenya’s educational reforms from 1964, when then-education minister Joseph Otiende established a commission to devise a new system that would reorganize the colonial educational framework, to the 2011 task force headed by Professor Douglas Okoth, who suggested a 2-6-6-2-3 system.

Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2019 on the policy framework for reforming education and training for sustainable development in Kenya and the Basic Education Curriculum Framework of 2017 introduced CBC.

Jwan contended that countries in Asia and Latin America, including the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Argentina, as well as Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico, have changed their systems for secondary education and training, emphasizing the relevance and quality of learning outcomes.

However, the petitioner maintained that CBC could not remain in place without changing the 2013 Basic Education Act No. 4.

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