7 Core Competencies of Kenya Competency-Based Curriculum

By experiencing the learning activities under the Kenya Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), there are seven core competencies to be acquired by every learner in basic education.  These are:

·         Communication and Collaboration

·         Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

·         Creativity and Imagination

·         Citizenship

·         Digital Literacy

·         Learning to Learn

·         Self-efficacy.

Below is an overview of the seven (7) core competencies.

1.  Communication and Collaboration

Communication is conveying intended information from one person to another using a mutually understood language.  It is the exchange of thoughts, messages, opinions and information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behaviour. 

Collaboration is a purposeful relationship in which all parties choose to cooperate in order to achieve a common objective.  An important aspect of the Competency-Based Curriculum is that learners will be involved in various learning activities.  Most of these activities will require to be done in pairs, in small groups or whole class.  For the learners to achieve the intended learning outcomes, they will require to be talking to each other using effective and polite language.  Besides the use of effective and appropriate language, the learners will be required to cooperate and work together to achieve the learning outcomes.

Communication and Collaboration is a competence that the learners will acquire to help them in school, at home and in their daily lives.

2.       Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking is one of the key learning outcomes that is envisaged in the provision of quality education. There are three types of critical thinking. These are reasoning, making judgements and problem-solving.   When learners acquire the competence of critical thinking, they can use logic and evidence to arrive at conclusions as opposed to being subjective.  This competence also enables the learners to explore new ways of doing things.  The learners will appreciate the fact that there are various perspectives of addressing an issue. Critical thinking is very important, and it is applicable throughout our lives.

Critical thinking and problem-solving helps create an open mind and readiness to listen.  The learners will also appreciate information and opinions that may sometimes conflict with their earlier held beliefs and positions.  The competence is useful for learners of all ages and in all subjects and disciplines across the basic education curriculum.

3.       Creativity and Imagination

Creativity and Imagination is the ability to form new images and sensations in the mind and to turn them into reality.  In creativity and Imagination, learners imagine things that are not real and form pictures in the mind.  The imagined things are those that have neither been seen nor experienced, but the learners will turn those pictures into real things. Creativity and imagination may also refer to the power of forming mental images of things not wholly perceived in reality and creating physical representations of those images.  Imagination happens and remains in the mind.  Creativity takes imagination to the next level whereby something new and valuable is formed.

In the Competence Based Curriculum, learners and their teachers will imaginatively and creatively form images and ideas in their minds.  They will then convert these ideas and images into real and visible creations.  Imaginative and creative learners will always make life interesting for themselves and others around them because they are able to create new ideas which add value to their lives and to those of others around them.  This ability is present in most learners but in most cases, it is hidden. The ability is developed when the teachers encourage learners to think as individuals.  The teacher will achieve this by exposing the learners to challenging situations that help to expand their thinking and creativity skills.  The curriculum is fairly flexible and it creates room for innovative ways of teaching the learners  The key objective is to provide learners with a conducive opportunity to explore their full potential in imagination and creativity and to apply it in school, at home and in their day to day lives.

4.       Citizenship

Human nature will always form communities based on a common or shared identity. The common identity naturally develops in response to a certain human need.  The needs could be economic, social, political or religious.  A group of people with these common needs and shared identity will naturally grow bigger and stronger to form a community.  Such a community will develop a set of shared values and build a governance framework to support their beliefs.  The individuals in those communities identify themselves as citizens.

Citizenship is the state of being vested with the rights, privileges, and duties of a member of a certain community.  Citizens have a sense of belonging to one’s nation.  When learners acquire a sense of citizenship, they are able to deal with situations of conflict and controversy in a knowledgeable and objective manner.  They will understand the consequences of their choices and actions.

Citizenship inculcates respect for oneself and for other people.  Additionally, it develops a unique approach to members of the community that is anchored on equity and justice.

5.       Digital Literacy

In the Competency Based Curriculum, Digital Literacy is the ability to use digital devices to explore information and content stored in digital devices. Such digital devices include tablets, desktop computers, laptops and phones among others.  Digital Literacy, therefore, focuses mainly on the ability to search, evaluate and use information channelled through digital platforms.

In education, learners are presumed to be digitally literate if they are able to safely and securely use technology to access and explore information while being able to assess the nature of the information to enhance learning. Digital literacy as a competence, therefore, encompasses the knowledge, skills and appropriate application of a variety of hardware platforms such as computer, cell phones, mobile devices and their software. Digital Literacy should not be limited to web search or internet application software. We live in a very dynamic technological world.  As such, this form of literacy is ever-changeably innovated. The teacher and the learners should be prepared and equipped to match and cope with the demands of this ever-changing industry. 

Digital Literacy, therefore, challenges traditional thinking and practices. It leads to innovation, creativity and transformational learning by the learners and the teacher.  In order to face the ever-changing world of technology, teachers and learners are required to acquire, develop and keep updating their digital literacy competence.

6.       Learning to Learn

In our daily lives, learning commences the day we are born, and it continues throughout our lifetime.  Learning, therefore, helps us to use our experience to deal with new situations. It also helps us to develop relationships in the community.  Learning is an intertwined phenomenon which involves our body, mind and soul. For us to be able to learn, we should first have the will to learn.  We learn something new every day and this helps us change our lives.  Learning should positively impact the learner and society as a whole.

Learning to learn is a wide concept in education.  It is the pursuit of and persistence in learning, organising our own learning by managing our time and information. This is achieved when the learner works individually or as part of a group.  Learning to Learn therefore requires awareness of one’s learning process and needs.  It requires the learner to identify learning opportunities and develop the ability to overcome obstacles in order to learn successfully.  Once the learners acquire this competence, they will be able to build on prior learning and life experiences.  There are four pillars of learning i.e.

·         Learning to know: This is the most basic form of learning.  Learners will acquire academic knowledge but with little or no application.

·         Learning to do:  Learners will acquire knowledge and do certain activities using that knowledge e.g. in sports.

·         Learning to be:  This combines the first two pillars and helps the learner to be what they want to be in life. The learner is able to act with growing independence, discernment and personal responsibility.

·         Learning to live together:  This is the epitome of learning.  The learner will acquire and apply the first three pillars of learning and co-exist with others in society.

7.       Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to one’s belief about their ability to perform certain tasks or assignments.  It determines how a person perceives and thinks about a certain task.  Self-efficacy has the potential to determine success in accomplishing tasks and assignments. 

When a learner has a strong sense of self-efficacy, they are able to accomplish personal tasks in many ways.  A learner with a strong sense of self-efficacy is confident when approaching difficult tasks. He or she perceives difficult tasks as challenges to be overcome as opposed to threats that should be avoided. Self-efficacy stimulates deep interest in new learning activities.   Such a learner will set himself or herself stretch goals while at the same time working towards achieving them.

In education, self-efficacy develops live application skills like self-esteem and confidence.  Self-esteem and confidence enable the learner to apply and maintain spirited efforts when faced with failure to convert such situations into successes.  A learner with a strong sense of self-efficacy develops interest and courage to pursue personal, family and community goals that would lead to personal accomplishment.  The learner will take cognisance of the available resources and take personal responsibility for their use, care and protection. 

A learner with strong self-efficacy will demonstrate self-assertiveness, empathy, effective communication, negotiation skills, non-violent conflict resolution skills and peer pressure resistance skills. 

In competency-based education, the learner will need to develop this competence to help him or her to face some seemingly difficult activities with confidence.  When the pre-primary learner is asked to draw and colour, he or she should be able to approach such tasks with courage and confidence. The teacher should be able to inculcate the competence of “Yes we can”. It will help the learner to face even more challenging situations at school, home and in their future lives.