KICD Warns Universities Over CBC Snub
Universities have been warned to move fast to align their academic programmes with the competency-based curriculum or risk becoming irrelevant.
Participants at the Inter University Council of East Africa, who included vice-chancellors, education ministers and curriculum developers from across East Africa, confirmed that Kenyan institutions are lagging behind in terms of curriculum reforms, raising the need for urgent interventions.
The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) chief executive, Prof Charles Ong’ondo, said the university infrastructure, teaching models and academic programmes are not designed to accommodate the CBC pioneer class which will join them from 2029.
“If universities do not start working on their programmes early enough, there will be a tsunami because the CBC learner will come in with a new dispassion for learning, and therefore we must start reorienting our lecturers into the new pedagogical approaches,” he said.
In the CBC system, students in senior secondary school will take three different pathways based on their competencies.
The pathways include Arts and Sports Science, Social Sciences and Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (Stem).
The curriculum requires 60 per cent of the students to pursue Stem subjects, 25 per cent social sciences and 15 per cent arts and sports.
“We need universities to restructure their programmes to follow the three pathways,” said the KICD boss.
Prof Ong’ondo said universities are currently running their programmes the other way round, where most of their students study social sciences and humanities with only a few pursuing stem courses.
He said the 60 per cent Stem students will join universities with new demand for resources.
Institutions will need to change their teaching models as most of them still work on the lecturer-board, which may not work for CBC students.
Prof Ong’ondo regretted that universities are still conducting continuous assessment tests and exams, which push students to cheat.
“Let universities focus on projects that are intended to bring out students’ competencies be integrated within what they are teaching ahead of the CBC roll-out in institutions of higher learning,” he said.
Prof Ong’ondo also urged universities to change the entrance grades to incorporate students’ competencies.
He called on VCs to focus on four critical stages during the structuring of programmes, which are research, stakeholder engagement, actual curriculum development and assessment curriculum designs.
Commission for University Education chair, Prof Chacha Nyaigotti, said institutions of higher learning should not be caught off guard when the pioneer class joins them.
“Universities should package themselves to be able to roll out the CBC without a hitch,” he said.
East African Community and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed said universities must start embracing the new curriculum in their programmes.
“We must shift from academic-based learning to a skills-based learning to address socio-economic challenges of our countries. This is the only way we are going to become self-reliant, reduce unemployment, foster student and labour mobility in the region and harness our resources for the good of our people,” Mohamed said.
IUCEA executive secretary Prof Gaspard Banyankimbona said there are growing concerns about many unemployed graduates from regional institutions, calling into question the quality of learning.
He also raised concerns about the relevance of courses and preparedness of students for the labour market.
“A paradigm shift is paramount and inevitable because traditionally, competency-based education was considered relevant and fit for technical and vocational education to produce middle cadre technical graduates needed by the productive sector, where as universities are expected to produce graduates with new frontiers of knowledge and learning outcomes that would make them occupy managerial positions in the production sector,” he said.