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Don’t just give scribes reports, serve them tea and explain slowly

  Image source: The Star

The Daily Nation reported that, “Finally, a clear picture of the Competency-Based Curriculum, showing how schools will be structured to accommodate learners under the new education system, is unveiled” (February 10, p.1).

But how clear was the picture? The story on page 4 was headlined, “No more KCPE, KCSE exams in changes to the education system”. The paper said that, “Learners transitioning from primary school will no longer sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination, which has been in place since 1985.”

How will pupils be assessed in preparation to join secondary school? By their scores in cumulative continuous assessments beginning in Grade Four and a summative examination in Grade Six, the Nation reported.

Pupils will be assessed in Grade Four, Five and Six in tests weighted at 20 per cent for each year. At the end of Grade Six, they will do the final assessment prepared by the Kenya National Examinations Council weighted at 40 per cent.

“Whereas the continuous assessments will be school-based and scored by teachers, the summative one will be at the national level,” the paper said.

After primary school, leaners will spend three years in junior secondary school and another three years in senior secondary school, totaling six.

“Placements to senior secondary schools will also be based on cumulative continuous assessments and summative assessments and the learner’s career choice,” the story said.

How will learners be assessed at the end of senior secondary school to get admission to university and other tertiary institutions? What will replace KCSE, which, according to the headline, has been scrapped? The Nation story did not say.

This story was based on task force report launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on February 9. Did the report say nothing about transition from senior secondary school, or was it Nation that did not read it properly?

The scribes on Mombasa Road understood the task force report differently. “KCPE retained as team revises its proposals”, the headline (February 10, p.8).

“Last minute intervention by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha retained KCPE examinations to fit in the broader plan of reforming assessments under the new education system,” The Standard reported.

Learners will accumulate marks scored in school assessments and sit for a final exam administered by KNEC “for objectivity and certification”, the story said.

“There was a feeling that doing away with KCPE and adopting pure school-based assessment would lead to biased scores by some teachers,” The Standard explained.

Stakeholders were also concerned that learners graduating from Kenya’s education system may face obstacles when pursuing education in other countries if they did not sit a final examination at primary school.

All the leaners will proceed to secondary school at the end of primary school. How will they be selected to join the schools? The story did not say.

Continuous and summative assessments will be used to facilitate entry to senior secondary school and admission to university and other tertiary institutions, according to The Standard.

So, are KCPE and KCPE exams scrapped or they will remain? Difficult to tell.

The People Daily reported that, “The new system will also see the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination, which is administered to Standard Eight candidates, replaced with continuous assessment tests from Grade 4” (February 10, p.4).

“Assessment at junior and senior secondary school with be both formative and summative at the end of the cycle”. That means no KCSE.

“KCPE survives but no more choice of school,” a headline on The Star website stated. “Learners in the Competency-Based Curriculum will sit a final examination at the end of primary school, just like KCPE, but the test will not entirely decide their secondary school,” the story said.

Clarity is needed in this important matter. Isn’t it strange that journalists reading the same report find in it different facts?

A day after the confusing reports were published, “Teachers, learners, parents, education officials, the civil society and religious leaders made phone calls to the Nation newsroom seeking information” about the changes, the paper reported.

Perhaps government task forces and departments or any institution issuing complicated reports ought to sit news reporters down, serve them tea with mandazi as they explain slowly every detail.

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