In December 2023, the Kenyan government introduced significant changes to the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), building upon recommendations from the Presidential Working Party on Education Reform (PWPER). These changes are centered around the PWPER’s suggestion to rationalize the number of learning areas and curriculum designs, aiming to reduce overload, overlaps, and gaps. This involves a reduction in learning areas and their content through the integration of existing ones.
In Junior School (Grade 7, 8, and 9), the initial set of 14 learning areas has been streamlined into 9 compulsory learning areas. However, this transformation has led to widespread confusion, particularly regarding the organization of timetables and staffing.
Analysing Grade 7 Creative Arts and Sports
The distinct learning areas of Physical Education & Sports, Visual Arts, and Performing Arts have been consolidated into one learning area known as Creative Arts and Sports. Many schools had taken the initiative to hire appropriately trained teachers and allocated one timetable slot for each of these distinct learning areas. Additionally, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) had published curriculum designs for each of these areas, leading publishers and education sector stakeholders to develop resource materials such as textbooks and digital content in alignment with these designs.
However, adhering strictly to the curriculum designs by assigning the newly rationalized learning area of Creative Arts and Sports to one teacher and one timetable slot has proven challenging for many schools. This challenge arises because it is difficult to find teachers who were previously trained to cover the aspects of Music, Physical Education, and Visual Arts now bundled together in the newly rationalized learning area.
Proposed reorganisation of Creative Arts and Sports
Upon closer examination of the strands, sub-strands, and the number of lessons allocated, it becomes evident that the learning area can be divided into Music, Physical Education, and Visual Arts for more effective teaching and easier implementation within schools. This reorganization will also facilitate the creation of a coherent timetable and appropriate allocation of teachers to classes.
Aspects of Music in the learning area can be found in 9 sub-strands and can be taught in 56 lessons throughout the year.
Aspect: PHYSICAL EDUCATION
The curriculum revision recognizes that many schools lack access to swimming pools. Consequently, swimming is now an optional sub-strand.
With the swimming option therefore, aspects of Physical Education can be found in 9 sub-strands and can be taught in 61 lessons, while without the 15 lessons of swimming, it can be taught in 46 lessons throughout the year.
Aspect: VISUAL ARTS
Aspects of Visual Art in the learning area can be found in 8 sub-strands and can be taught in 33 lessons throughout the year.
Reorganisation of the timetable
The curriculum designs propose that Creative Arts and Sports be taught in 5 lessons a week. So how could the schools reorganise the timetable to deliver the aspects of the learning area in the 5 lessons?
Important to note
- Teachers responsible for different aspects need to coordinate during sub-strand 1.1 (Introduction to Creative Arts and Sports) to ensure that the entire learning area is adequately introduced to students since the curriculum designs do not recognise the distinction between the aspects. Therefore, out of the 8 lessons the curriculum designs propose for the sub-strand, this reorganisation proposes that Music and Physical Education each have 2 lessons while Visual Arts have 4 lessons due to the nature of the subsequent sub-strands.
- Teachers should clearly explain to students the concept of an aspect within a learning area and how these aspects collectively form a single learning area. This understanding will likely be vital as students encounter examination papers, which will likely comprise multiple learning areas, similar to the Integrated Science exam papers they took in Grade 6.