The impact of the output of the new Competency-Based Education Training system is expected to give this country the job and wealth creators who will contribute positively in reducing unemployment
By MARGARET MUHORO
There are many reasons why we go to school. These include the old one that has done its tour of duty – you will get a good job when you are done with school. The other reasons include gaining knowledge, skills, growth and socialisation. In Kenya, provision of education is the role of the government although the private sector has heavily invested in this sector. This has been the case since independence. With time, the education system has changed with the objective of meeting the changing needs of the market that are not static.
After slightly over three decades of 8-4-4 education system, which we have blamed for half-baked graduates, Kenya is now at a turning point, the new structure 2-6-3-3-3 (2 years pre- primary, 6 years primary, 3 years junior secondary, 3 years senior secondary and 3 years at the university or TVET Institution) is promising a skilled and competent graduate at every level. The new structure positions life-long learning and acquisition of skills as critical components of education. To achieve this, learning is expected to take place at school, home, workplace and the society in general. This gives experiential learning recognition as an acceptable form of learning.
To support this change, the legal framework was revised and the relevant structures and separation of roles well thought out. After the secondary education, the learner has the option of joining the university or a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institution to pursue a course of their choice.
There are three institutions responsible for standards in the education sector. Technical Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA) is responsible for licensing and registration of training Institutions; Curriculum Development and Certification Council (CDACC) is mandated to design and develop Curricula for the training institutions’ examination, assessment and competence certification and The Kenya National Qualification Authority (KNQA) which is responsible for registration and equation of qualifications and setting up standards in admission criteria and program duration. These three institutions are expected to work in harmony to the benefit of all stakeholders; the learner, training institutions and the labour market.
It is interesting to note that learners will no longer be judged on the basis of what they score at the end of each level of learning. The system is now allowing one to grow from one level to the highest level and time is not a limitation. An “E” at KCSE is not a death sentence to one’s learning process, as with a right choice of program, one has a chance to grow to the highest level.
The expectations from the new Competency-Based Education Training (CBET) system are two-fold; one behavioural change and two mastery of skills and competencies to solve real life problems. From a behavioural perspective, the focus of learning outcomes lays emphasis on learners exhibiting behaviours that reflect that some learning has taken place. When the learning is anchored on the national values as stipulated in the constitution, aspects such as national cohesion are achievable. For instance, the learners are expected to go through an environmental course as a common course. By the end of this course, shall we see a considerable reduction in the number of people who litter the streets? Who dispose of their garbage at home and in the work place appropriately? Who will keep time for appointments and not say African time? With time we are expecting a generation that will relate to the code of professional ethics and the society at large.
The system is also expected to produce graduates who are knowledgeable and skilled in areas specified in their courses. Often, in a recruitment exercise, the mismatch between the person before the panel and the academic papers presented is outrageous. The gap in work preparedness, attitude and the ability to competently carry out tasks will be bridged. This then implies that only those who will pass the competency-based examinations will possess a KNQA registered certificate that will position this person in the global market.
Reduction of unemployment
The impact of the output is on one hand expected to give this country the job and wealth creators who will contribute positively in reducing unemployment. This is because the system is focusing on producing technicians and innovators who will provide solutions to the challenges in the society today. They are expected to innovate garbage-recycling techniques, new building technologies to provide housing, applications to improve business operations and processes and artists who will keep the social fabric going for a holistic society.
The stakeholders must then play their role to make this system work. Parents will need to appreciate that all children will not be lawyers and doctors, some will be great Disc Jockeys, musicians, carpenters and fashion designers. Teachers will need to nurture the learners entrusted to them with the understanding that they all have different capabilities. The work place will also be required to play its role where the employee will be allowed to continue learning formally and informally, accommodate new learners who need to gain work experience while the government will have to ensure that the learning institutions are well facilitated to deliver the expected results. The professional bodies will need to gear up and provide professional standards in expected learning outcomes fit for the global market.
The changes are beneficial to economy; let us give it a chance.
Margaret Muhoro is the Head, The KIM School of Management. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org