Parents grapple with new syllabus challenges

Monday, September 23rd, 2019 00:00 |
Ann Wanjiru, guides her children Sheila (centre), a Grade Three pupil at Ngangarithi Primary School and Lesly, a Grade Two pupil at DEB Muslim Primary School, do their homework at their Blue Valley home, Nyeri town, last week. Photo/ PD/JOSEPH KING’ORI

As Grade Three pupils tackled classroom-based national assessments last week, parents said implementation of the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) has thrown a spanner into their works. 

Education CS George Magoha said  the assessment is not an exam, but a determinant of learners’ abilities acquired since they were enrolled two years ago. 

“It has not been easy up to this moment,” said Pauline Munene, a parent in Nairobi.

“Just last week, my eight-year-old daughter, Esther Joy even noted that the media was broadcasting news about their tests. Nowadays, she is very keen on news,” she said.  

During the school holiday last month, Pauline and other Grade Three parents countrywide underwent a memorable schedule.

“We receive their assignments via our WhatsApp groups and in August we were working on an environment assignment.

I say ‘we’ because the new syllabus requires the pupils and the parent to do the homework together.  I need to supervise it,” she said. 

The assignment was to clean a local market and so Munene ensured that Esther joined pupils who swept and collected trash at Ruai market, Nairobi. 

“We reside in Utawala and that was the nearest market. Before that, we had to improvise aprons, gloves and dust caps to get the job done,” said the mother of three.

The mother-daughter team used old sacks at home to make the aprons and caps. “CBC has taught my daughter to be responsible. Now we have a dust-pan made of cartons to clean the house and we no longer help her make her bed every day,” beams the marketer. 

Since she has a busy work schedule, Munene occasionally engages her house-help to help her daughter do homework. “She has to go to a cybercafé,  download and print out the homework. This costs us a few more coins not to mention the other things that we keep buying,” she said.

 Story books

Another parent from Mombasa, Khadija Mohamed, with two children in pre-school knows too well how expensive it can get. “Last holiday, reading assignments needed us to buy our daughter some books,” she said. 

The family had to read for a minimum of 20 minutes a day and answer questions after the exercise.

“We have a CBC Guardian’s booklet where we fill-in how well certain words were read and what those words were,” she said. 

Khadijais now a client of one of Mombasa’s textbook stores. “We had to ensure she read good fresh books so we spent quite a bit.

We also needed manila paper, colouring pencils and much more,” she said with a sigh. 

And it has not been a walk in the park for the family. “Because of the nature of my job, I leave the office late and I do not get to sit through with them as they do sit homework.  I really miss out on spending time with them,” Khadija said. 

After the holidays, the children had to identify a favourite character and dress up like them to school. “My daughter picked a princess as her character;  the dress alone cost Sh2,500 without the tiara and shoes,” she laughed. 

Recently, she had to take her daughter shopping for assignment materials. “The homework required her to use Sh500 or less to shop and I had to take photos of the process. She then had to develop a math problem out of her experience— a shopping budget,” she said.  

However, the relationship between parents and their children is becoming stronger. “We are very good friends because we have bonded over the homework,” Munene said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Khadija who said she has no qualms about CBC. “I love the individuals my children are being moulded into,” she said. 

Speaking during the Third National Annual conference on CBC in Nairobi last month, the National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo asked the Education Ministry and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to ensure that all parents are fully sensitised and engaged so that they too are accountable for their role in implementation of the curriculum.

He described the new syllabus as diverse, dynamic, practical and appropriate for Kenya’s socio-economic needs. “Without a doubt it is an important pillar in the realisation of the Big Four agenda,” he said. 

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