This article was first published by the Global Partnership of Education in August 2023. It was part of a series showcasing the winners of the African Union ‘Innovating Education in Africa’ program.

The CBC app is a digital tool developed to simplify assessments and support both record-keeping and reporting processes in Kenyan schools. It is designed to improve the repetitive tasks faced by teachers and school administrators.

The competency-based curriculum in Kenya

In 2016, Kenya began the journey of changing its education system because of the requirements of the 2010 Constitution and the Vision 2030 transformation agenda. The country’s goal was to develop a highly-skilled, ethical and patriotic workforce through competency-based education.

The implementation of the Competency-Based Education Framework, commonly referred to as the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), has come a long way with many success stories and an equal share of challenges. Most notable among the latter are the shortage of teaching and learning resources, the lack of trained teachers and the rushed implementation, which strained all stakeholders.

The CBC came with new requirements for assessment, record-keeping and reporting, which placed a huge burden on teachers and schools. The CBC requires that teachers regularly perform formative assessments and keep records of these assessments. The idea is that the records would be used to offer each learner a personalized learning pathway in line with their competencies.

These assessments are typically recorded with pen and paper, a process that is extremely burdensome and time-consuming. This inevitably takes teachers away from their main mandate, which is to support learners.

School administrators also find it difficult to follow assessment progress when records are kept on paper. At the end of every school term, teachers spend a disproportionately large amount of time compiling student reports from all the paper-based records. It is also common for these records to be misplaced or damaged, wasting an entire term’s or year’s efforts.

The consequence is that teachers are strained and cannot give their best, administrators have little visibility as to the quality of the assessments, and ultimately, the learners do not benefit from the goals of the CBC.

Admin interface of the CBC app. Credit: Mike Kipkorir Bill
Admin interface of the CBC app.Credit: Mike Kipkorir Bill

How the CBC app addresses the challenges

The CBC app was designed specifically to solve these challenges. First, the app significantly simplifies the process of record keeping. This means that a teacher goes from spending days and hours on assessments to minutes. Administrators get a real-time view of assessment data across the school, allowing them to make inputs to improve the quality of education.

When it comes to reporting time, the CBC app makes it easy to generate end-of-term reports; teachers and administrators simply ask the CBC app for all or some of their assessment data to be put together into reports. Once again, this process takes minutes instead of the days and hours that report preparation previously took.

Year on year, a learner’s data is kept in the CBC app and a picture of a learner’s competencies begins to emerge. This means that all stakeholders involved in a learner’s journey can support the kind of personalized education that the learner requires.

This kind of data is also necessary for the placement of learners at institutions of higher learning, as at the end of Grade 12, the CBC app can produce a learner profile that describes the student’s entire education journey.

CBC app interface. Credit: Mike Kipkorir Bill
CBC app interface.Credit: Mike Kipkorir Bill

Impact on the community

The CBC app has had a great impact on the Kenyan education system and community, most notably the transformation of annual student reports that are now data-driven and highly detailed. The app offers an intuitive, mobile-based data collection experience so that teachers can keep records effortlessly.

During the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the Kenyan general election in 2022, the CBC app proved invaluable in helping schools maintain productivity, save time and remain supportive to students.

Teachers have experienced a positive change during the report preparation season especially, as the app increases their efficiency and productivity. It also means that at the end of every school term, teachers can simply go home to get the rest they deserve and not have to stay in school for a few more days preparing reports.

Parents also now have access to comprehensive reports on every aspect of their child’s learning journey across different subjects without burdening teachers or schools.

CBC app interface. Credit: Mike Kipkorir Bill
CBC app interface.Credit: Mike Kipkorir Bill

Response from education stakeholders

The Ministry of Education in Kenya has shown great support for initiatives that enhance teachers’ digital skills and promote the implementation of the new curriculum. Quality assurance officers and curriculum support officers who have interacted with the app are actively encouraging schools to adopt it.

National-level stakeholders, such as the Kenya National Examination Council, are also keeping innovations like the CBC app on their radar for opportunities for data integration when the time is right.

Participating in last year’s innovation challenge at the African Union gave us great recognition, and we were happy to be among the 50 selected innovations in Africa. Google for Start-ups Africa also noticed us and we are often invited to participate in Google innovator events in Kenya.

Being a finalist in the AU Innovation Expo has been a powerful motivation for the CBC app team. The prize’s recognition has validated the innovation at a continental level and has inspired the team to continue supporting the transformation of education in Kenya.

Looking ahead, the vision for the CBC app is to reach more schools, to have greater impact and to establish a sustainable business model.

The CBC app is funded from the subscription revenue collected from the schools using the app. It is critical that this business model succeeds as it offers the best validation of the innovation and gives the innovation a much higher chance of sustainability.

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