By Wandia Njoya
In the NTV report “Hardship academy,” Dr. Jwan of KICD categorically stated that CBC had worked in the US, and those who were saying otherwise were lying.
I wondered why he was so confident, and why I was not finding the academic research.
I’ve just found out why.
CBC is a donor funded project, particularly of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
KICD has been grounded on an experiment that the Gates Foundation funded in the Philadelphia public schools. The Gates Foundation poured a lot of money into experiments with public schools that have absolutely annoyed American teachers. One of these experiments is using competency based curriculum to improve schools in poor districts. According to the Gates ideology, poor performance in resource deprived school districts can be improved by:
1) insisting on mastery of specific skills (competence)
2) “personalized learning” (aka kids learning from tablets)
3) data (huduma, anyone?)
4) tying teachers to performance contracts.
The key feature of this curriculum, both the Gates version and the Kenyan one, is that the only demonstration of knowledge considered valid is knowledge that is applied. It is a very dangerous idea, because it means that nobody will learn about anything unless there is a direct material result.That is why the arts are being dumbed down into “talent,” and not being taught to all kids for their non-application value like improving skills in movement, creativity and collaboration.
It is not surprising that Kenyans have bought CBC wholesale, because the Kenyan hegemony has brainwashed us to love the logic that knoweledge is useless unless it can be applied (aka can bring money). We usually refer to that as “what’s your solution.”
The problem with Gates ideology is that it is trying to cover up the impact of poverty and inequality on schools (25% of kids in America are growing up in poverty). Of course, the Gates have an interest in deflecting attention of any social justice and equality questions, so they want to say the problem in schools is the kids, the curriculm or the teachers. Any reason that directs our attention away from economic injustice, the Gates will fund it.
And remember, that a key component of our CBC is to excuse systemic failures with “parental involvement” (yani makosa ni ya wazazi) and “talent” (maybe the kid isn’t gifted in Maths, not that he had no Maths teacher).
The problem then, is that KICD read these reports wholesale, did not interrogate them against the background of what critics have said about the Gates Foundation public education projects. Indeed, American teachers are “tayad” of the experiments which the Gates have been carrying out in public schools. There’s even a blog called “Teachers’ letters to Bill Gates,” where teachers tell personal experiences of how they and their pupils are affected by badly thought out GF experiments in public schools. Public school advocate Diane Ravitch referred to Bill Gates and other rich reformers of education as “The Billionaires boys’ club.”
And, unfortunately, the Gates Foundations funds so much academic research, so it’s hard to get academics who will ask questions about the impact of GF on public education. That’s why I couldn’t find these reports Dr. Jwan was talking about. And yet, KICD went ahead and used them without interrogating them.
In the previous post, I talked about “the public,” and how it is threatened by “plutocracy,” a system where the rich get to set the rules. This is, indeed, the struggle of public education in the US, and now we have imported the bad, anti-democratic ideas of the rich into our school system.
And, unknowingly, I was not far from the struggle for the public. Today, I found a story directly related to this issue, and specifically in the same Philadelphia.
Last year, a billionaire offered $25m to his former high school, on condition that they renamed the school after him, put his picture over all the main entrances in the school, and changed the curriculum. The curriculum was to teach coding with Chromebooks, and the results of the classes had to be sent to his foundation for evaluation. But, above all, despite being a public school, the contract had a confidentiality agreement.
The parents and alumni turned down the offer and campaigned for the contract to be disclosed to the public. They argued that democracy was not for sale.
I doubt that Kenyans would have done the same.
So that’s where your CBC came from. And it appeals to Kenyans because we have no value for humanity, or even for our children. Duale’s tirade in parliament is proof. CBC appeals to us because money matters more to us than anybody.