Custom Adv 1

Esther Nyambura

 George Kiruja and Thuo Karanja

The three letters, CBC could be the most spoken of in the education sector in Kenya today. They evoke different reactions and emotions depending on whom one is conversing with. While to some, a Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) is the greatest thing that could have ever happened in the education sector, to others, CBC is an unwelcome disruption and nuisance to the continuity of learning. In simple terms, the Kenyan Competency-based Curriculum (CBC) is a new education system designed to develop skills and knowledge (competencies) and apply those competencies to problem-solving in real-life situations/ enable the learner to cope with life challenges. The Vision for a Competency-based Curriculum is to have Engaged, Empowered, and Ethical Citizens, while the Mission is to Nurture Every Learner's Potential. CBC was launched by the Ministry of Education and rolled out in primary schools in 2017. The pioneers of CBC, who are currently in Grade 6, will transit to Junior Secondary School (JSS) Grade 7 in 2023.

Significant and notable in the shift to CBC include the change in learning years from the 8-4-4 to 2-6-6-3. The levels are referenced as 'Grades' instead of the previous use of 'Standard' and 'Form'. The syllabus is referred to as 'Curriculum Designs'. Though not easy to understand and use in the initial stages, the designs seem to have details and clarity that make lesson implementation easy. In CBC Designs, topics and subtopics are referred to as 'strands and 'sub-strands', respectively. Lesson objectives are learning outcomes, and learner activities are learning experiences. There are a few new introductions, such as using a 'key inquiry question' signifying an orientation to teaching that focuses more on inquiry-based learning. Another change in CBC is lessons that focus on developing competencies and values. The seven core competencies include communication and collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving, imagination and creativity, citizenship, learning to learn, self-efficacy, and digital literacy. Values of love, responsibility, respect, unity, peace, patriotism and integrity are to be integrated into lessons. While planning lessons, teachers are expected to mainstream at least one competency and one value.

Assessment is another essential aspect of the CBC curriculum. Emphasis is on the ability of every learner to demonstrate learning or competencies as opposed to the hitherto right or wrong approach to assessment. In CBC, learners are assessed along a continuum of personal capabilities, with feedback forming a more significant part of the assessment.

A learner can demonstrate learning by exceeding or performing below the assessor's expectations. Using rubrics in assessment enables a teacher to map out effective feedback related to the individual learner or a group of learners.

Other features of CBC include a greater emphasis on parental involvement in the business of their children's education. The design is such that learners collaborate with their parents to produce learning artefacts and portfolios via extended learning activities. 

The success of CBC is hinged on the sensitization, awareness creation, and training of key stakeholders in the education subsector (parents, school leaders and teachers) on this transition's implications and its implementation dynamics. Parents are eager to know the role government expects them to play to facilitate meaningful learning experiences for their children at school. Teachers are keen to see the structure of CBC and especially the anticipated changes in the processes of planning and implementing instruction. School leaders are eager to understand how they must restructure school programmes and practices to accommodate CBC.

As a critical stakeholder in the capacity development ecosystem in the education subsector, CEMASTEA has reoriented its training programmes to focus on CBC. The training for STEM teachers and school leaders is heavy on content related to CBC. We have trained teachers on the structure of the CBC Framework and Curriculum Designs interpretation, basics of lesson planning and implementation of CBC lessons and Competency-Based Assessment (CBA). The success of CEMASTEA CBC training is hinged on the multisectoral approach in training material preparation and training. The contextualization of the training to focus on the specific needs of participants and the strategy of having input from the experts in CBCs' key outcome areas has resulted in top-rated practical training for CEMASTEA's CBC training programmes. CEMASTEA collaborates with institutions such as the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE), Kenya Institute of Curriculum Design and Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC).

By: Patrick Kogolla, Ag. Deputy Director Training CEMASTEA

Under the new 2–6–3–3–3 education system, commonly referred to as CBC, learners will spend a total of 17 years in school: two in pre-primary, six in primary school, three in junior secondary, three in senior secondary school and another three in university.

 Learning progression in CBC 

One of the critical milestones of implementing CBC is the transition of the learners currently in grade six to grade seven at Junior Secondary School (JSS). Junior Secondary school (JSS) is a stage of educational transition nested in most education systems between primary and senior secondary education. It is primarily for learners of Years 7, 8 and 9 and helps to ensure the bridge between primary and secondary school is safe, solid and consistent. In the Kenya context, grades 4, 5 & 6, together with grades 7, 8 & 9, form the middle school.

Junior Secondary Education will take three years; Grade 7, 8 and 9 for learners aged between 12 and 14 years. There will be 12 core/compulsory subjects in junior secondary. These are English, Kiswahili, Mathematics and Social Studies, Religious Education, Business Studies, Agriculture, life skills, Sports and Physical Education. New subjects include Integrated Science, Health Education and Pre-Technical and Pre-Career Education.

Learners with hearing impairment will undertake Kenyan Sign Language in place of English and Kiswahili. Integrated science, for example, will deal with basic concepts in science and some contents from physics, biology and chemistry. Pre-technical education prepares the learners for the world of work by instilling technical skills and knowledge needed to perform specific tasks. Pre-career Education seeks to prepare learners to choose their career paths after completing senior secondary in Grades 10, 11 and 12.

There will be a total of seven optional subjects in junior secondary. Learners will be allowed to choose a minimum of one and a maximum of two optional subjects. These subjects include Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Home Science and Computer Science, indigenous language and foreign languages, and learners' options to study the Kenya Sign Language. ICT will be cross-cutting in all subjects.

The Government has given resources to construct classes to accommodate the expected large numbers. Curriculum designs for grade seven are already out, and secondary school teachers are being trained to interpret and implement the designs. To join Junior Secondary Grade 6 learners in November 2022, sit the maiden national CBC assessment test- the Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA). Approximately 1.24 million pioneer KPSEA candidates will join junior secondary schools in January 2023.

Junior secondary school will be closely watched as a transitional stage in CBC. While the die on CBC is cast and there is no going back, it will be necessary for those concerned to pick lessons and feedback to plough back and make the implementation smooth and successful as we advance. Lastly, it is essential to note that junior secondary school learners will mostly be adolescents. School leaders and teachers must focus on the child and as they implement their lessons. The focus should be geared to assist them in navigating self-efficacy and identifying their potential and worth. This way, the vision of CBC of ‘nurturing every learner’s potential’ will come alive.

By Martin Mungai Ann Mumbi, Winfred Magu and Promina Kauri

Mathematics plays a critical role in development of critical thinking, creative problem solving, and precise communication and collaboration skills. These are important work skills for socio-economic development in the 21st Century.

On Wednesday, 27th July, 2022, students who took part in the CEMC - CEMASTEA Mathematics Contest and showed exemplary performance were awarded trophies and certificates in recognition of their efforts.

The Centre for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) in partnership with Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) which is domiciled at University of WaterLoo in Canada, on 21st May 2022, administered a Maths test to 39 STEM schools. The schools had been purposively selected from a pool of 103 STEM model schools. A total of 796 students undertook the test.

CEMASTEA staff administered the test in the 39 schools in a closely timed session of one hr. Answer sheets were scanned and forwarded to CEMC for marking. 

The overall goal of the contest was to help create positive attitude towards Maths as well as help improve performance in Mathematics. 

The teachers from these selected schools had been taken through a virtual training by Canadian mathematics lectures on creation of Problem Solving questions to help the learners become critical thinkers.  The trained teachers were expected to cascade the knowledge and skills gained to their schools for the overall benefit of the learner.

The Director of Secondary and Tertiary Education, Mr. Paul Kibet, presided over the awarding ceremony. Mr. Kibet, stated that STEM Education was the only way towards Kenya’s technological and socio-economic development through Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the Big 4 agenda.  Mathematics, he noted stands out strong in STEM because it plays a critical role in development of thinking skills, creative problem solving, precise communication as well as teamwork skills for 21st Century socioeconomic development.

Mr. Kibet acknowledged Director CEMASTEA, Mrs Jacinta L. Akatsa, HSC and Hon. Wesley Korir from CEMC and by extension, University of Waterloo - Canada, for coming up with the maths contest initiative which he noted would help the Kenyan learners. He congratulated AIC Chebisaas High School, Ndururumo High school and Nyeri High School for their sterling performance in the contest.

CEMC has Mathematics contests designed for the Canadian child; however, this can be contextualized to fit in with the Kenyan child. He noted that similar initiatives have been established in Rwanda and Ghana through African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS).


(Left –right)The Director of Secondary and Tertiary Education, Mr. Paul Kibet, MoE, Mrs. Jacinta Akatsa Director CEMASTEA with principals, students from Nyeri High School, Ndururumo High school and AIC Chebisaas High School receive awards during the ceremony at CEMASTEA

The Director of Secondary and Tertiary Education, Mr. Paul Kibet, MoE, Mrs. Jacinta Akatsa

Director CEMASTEA with principal and students from Ndururumo High school receive awards during the ceremony at CEMASTEA


The Director of Secondary and Tertiary Education, Mr. Paul Kibet, MoE, Mrs. Jacinta Akatsa Director CEMASTEA with principal and students from Nyeri High school receive awards during the ceremony at CEMASTEA

The Director of Secondary and Tertiary Education, Mr. Paul Kibet, MoE, Mrs. Jacinta Akatsa Director CEMASTEA with principal and students from AIC AIC Chebisaas High School receive awards during the ceremony at CEMASTEA


Group Photo
The Director of Secondary and Tertiary Education, Mr. Paul Kibet, MoE, Mrs. Jacinta Akatsa Director CEMASTEA with principals from AIC Chebisaas High School, Ndururumo High school, CEMASTEA staff and students from Ndururumo High School during the ceremony.


Group Photo
The Director of Secondary and Tertiary Education, Mr. Paul Kibet, MoE, Mrs. Jacinta Akatsa Director CEMASTEA with principals from AIC Chebisaas High School, Ndururumo High school, CEMASTEA staff and students from Nyeri High School during the ceremony.


Group Photo
The Director of Secondary and Tertiary Education, Mr. Paul Kibet, MoE, Mrs. Jacinta Akatsa Director CEMASTEA with principals from AIC Chebisaas High School, Ndururumo High school, CEMASTEA staff and students from AIC Chebisaas High School during the ceremony

Mr. Martin Mungai, National Trainer CEMASTEA and organizer of the CEMC - CEMASTEA Mathematics Contest speaking during the ceremony






Written by: Njeri Mburu and Ann Mumbi, CEMASTEA

CEMASTEA held a 2021 stakeholder's workshop at Sarova Woodlands Hotel in Nakuru County on the 14th and 15th January 2022. The workshop's theme was “Enhancing the Management of SMASE Activities at the County Level for Quality Teaching and Learning”. The two-day workshop's objectives included, Sharing experiences on the management of SMASE programs at the County level; Enhancing mechanisms for sustainable management of SMASE programs; Harmonise understanding of the SMASE funding, budgeting and accounting for SMASE funds. 

Regional Directors of Education, Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Regional Directors, County Directors of Education, TSC County Directors, Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KESSHA) Chairs, County Quality Assurance Standard Officers (CQASOs), and other guests from the Ministry of Education attended the workshop.

The Chief Guest for the opening ceremony was Director-General, State Department Early Learning and Basic Education, Dr. Elyas Abdi. He lauded CEMASTEA for holding the annual stakeholders’ workshops to review its programs, quoting: “What gets measured gets done”. While there are many stakeholders in the sector, teachers were the most critical link to good performance and there is the constant need to support them. He also noted that through the SMASE program, there was a notable improvement in mathematics and science subjects. The Government, he reported, was ready to support the SMASE program since it had an impact on the economy of the country. In attendance was the TSC CEO, represented by Madam Jane Njagi, the TSC Regional Director, Nairobi County. In her remarks, she appreciated that the participants through the workshop would be sharpened to work better in their counties and improve learning.

Director CEMASTEA, Madam Jacinta L. Akatsa, reported that CEMASTEA had re-engineered its processes to ensure continuity during the COVID-19 period. She appreciated the immense support from the Ministry of Education, the Teachers Service Commission and the County Teacher Capacity Development Committees (CTCDC) in implementing the online programs. 

The message from the Chief Guest TSC CEO, Dr. Nancy Macharia delivered by Madam Jane Njagi, TSC Regional Director, Nairobi County emphasized the Commission’s commitment on implementation of continuous Teacher Professional Development (TPD). The Chief Guest recognized the role CEMASTEA continues to play in institutionalizing regular INSET for mathematics and science for teachers. She appealed to the participants to continue working together to entrench effective implementations of the curriculum in schools.

CEMASTEA staff facilitated the workshop's sessions. Sessions included Feedback on 2020/ 2021 SMASE Activities, Financial and Audit Reports and Upcoming SMASE activities. There were sessions and sensitizations on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Competency-Based Curriculum, the implementation of STEM Pathway in Senior Secondary and related learning areas in Junior Secondary.

Njeri Mburu and Ann Mumbi, CEMASTEA


Stakeholders following the proceedings of the workshop

Written by Mary Sichangi & Ann Mumbi, CEMASTEA

The 7th International Day of "Women and Girls in Science" was celebrated virtually on February 11th, 2022, under the theme: "Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us". The day aims to recognise the role of women and girls in science as beneficiaries and agents of change. The day's theme spoke to SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation and its benefits to the progress across all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The International Day for Women and Girls in Science forms a curtain-raiser for the International Woman's Day celebrations on March 8th. The UN 2022 theme for International Women's Day was 'Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow". The tagline "Eliminate the Bias" was also adopted to drive the theme of focus on a world free of biased stereotypes and discrimination against women.


In celebrating the Women in science and experts across the globe, including government officials, international organisations gathered to discuss issues on sustainable development related to economic prosperity, social justice and environmental integrity. The Principal Secretary of State Department for University.

Education and Research Amb was in attendance. Simon Nabukwesi, CBS and Principal Secretary State Department for Early Learning and Basic Education Dr Julius O. Jwan, CBS. Prof. Eng delivered the first keynote address. Bancy Mbura Mati, former Director, Water Research and Resource Center (WARREC), Water Management Expert and Professor at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology titled, "Women, leadership and contribution to SDGs with focus on Water access and security for sustainable development".

Director  CEMASTEA, Mrs Jacinta L. Akatsa was among the panellists during the discussions. She was represented by Mrs Mary W. Sichangi, Coordinator, Partnerships and Linkages Department at CEMASTEA. In her contributions, Mrs Sichangi explained CEMASTEA's programs that focus on Women in Science. One of the anchor programmes at CEMASTEA related to accelerating girls' participation in science is the training of teachers in Gender Responsive Pedagogy STEM education. The course, run in partnership with Education Development Trust (EDT) Programme 'Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu', aims at helping schools and, in particular, STEM teachers eliminate barriers that hinder girls' participation in STEM subjects.

Written by Beatrice Macharia and Winfred Magu, CEMASTEA

CEMASTEA conducted customised training for mathematics and science teachers of Aga Khan High School, Mombasa from March 7th to 11th.  The theme of the training was "Enhancing Effective Learner Involvement through Learner-Centred Pedagogies". The training was planned and implemented remotely by a team of National trainers from CEMASTEA. Some of the sessions facilitated during the training included attitude changes, an introduction to Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), leaner centred teaching practices, leaner management, and Remote learning technologies

In her opening remarks, Director, CEMASTEA, Mrs Jacinta Akatsa noted that performance in mathematics and science subjects lag behind the art and social sciences subjects. Issues that affect performance include; negative attitude, low entry behaviours and poor instructional methods devoid of meaningful learner participation. She lauded the leadership of the Aga Khan High School for valuing the continuous -professional development of its teachers.

The course was motivated by the school's needs and that its content was carefully and purposefully designed to support these needs. She was optimistic that after going through the training, the teachers' ability to practice learner-centred pedagogies for an effective learning process will be enhanced. The Director challenged the teachers to be creative and innovative, use hands-on activities and integrate ICT in teaching and learning. While teachers expect an attitude change in their learners, the director noted that learners often do not know how to do it. "We keep telling students to work hard, but we do not show them how to do it", she remarked. Teachers, she advised could assist learners in identifying topics and subtopics in challenging subjects and plans their revision timetables to reduce students frustration and negative attitude towards STEM subjects.

During the closing ceremony, the school principal, Mrs. Mary Stella Chitechi, thanked CEMASTEA for organising and facilitating the training. She promised that the school would put in place mechanisms to implement lessons learnt. Deputy Director CEMASTEA, Mrs Lydia Muriithi, reminded the participants that a 21st Century teacher must be willing to unlearn, learn, and relearn to meet the learners' needs. Mr Joseph Kuria, CEMASTEA’s Deputy Coordinator, Special Programmes and Student Learning, urged the participants to cascade what they had learnt in their school.