The day I made a guitar with my son

“CBC… hii system itatumaliza!” is a phrase that has become common amongst parents in Kenya.

If you don’t already know, Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) is the current school system in Kenya. Since the Ministry of Education introduced this new system in 2017, it has been a push and pull experience between teachers and the ministry, parents and teachers and every stakeholder looking in for any opportunity to either oppose or support our new Kenyan education system.

Some feel the system is a good step toward horning the talents and skills of our children, since it is based on nurturing talent, focusing on competence, and sharpening an individual’s skills, while others say it isn’t practical for a country like Kenya.

So, from a parent’s perspective, is it an opportunity to get to bond with and be involved with your child and their education or is it an impractical way of learning?

Students take part in a CBC activity | Picture Courtesy:

With any new system, be it health, education, food and safety there has to be some major ground work covered. The Ministry of Education is doing its best with training of teachers, introducing new text books that are CBC aligned, and some schools are making effort to meet with parents to help them understand the system and its benefits more.

That said, there is still the feeling that as a community and a country with varied opportunities for each citizen, a country where the gap of the rich and poor is getting wider, a component like CBC can create confusion and lack of progress, especially when some areas of concern are not dealt with.

The idea is that when a child starts the CBC system, the parent must begin to clear their schedule every so often, or even everyday, to be available to do practical homework with their child. This would mean, for example, helping your child create an object, test out a theory and go for field work if required. It already sounds intense, doesn’t it? Not to mention the search for raw materials to make items like bean bags, measurement tools and even musical instruments!

It all sounds great, it looks like something fun to do with your child. Now, try convincing mama mboga who closes shop at 9pm, the hawker in town who gets home at 11pm or the nurse/waitress/night guard who gets home the next morning, and don’t forget that mother upcountry who has to farm from morning and collect fire wood by evening. It would be easy to say, look for a job that gives you a fair schedule, or quit and take care of the kids first, till they grow, but is that even something one can think of doing with this economy?

Every parent desires to be involved in their child’s lives, but other than time management on the parents part, there are external factors that contribute to the quality of family relationships and involvement in the home – especially involvement with our children’s education. Believe me, looking for strings, boxes and wooden pieces is no easy feat… Ask me how that went when my son and I had to make a guitar, in order for him to understand more about musical instruments!

Could the government, along with ministry of education, consider sorting out the societal/economic gap, infrastructure and administration, before telling me to organize a parade for my child, in an apartment block with no parking, or playground, where kids co-exist with pedestrians and moving vehicles, all at the same time?


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