Competency-Based Education

Most parents wonder what competency-based education is all about. Competency based education (CBE) is a method of learning and instruction that is aimed towards ensuring understanding and proficiency with different materials and skills, rather than accomplishment guided by seat time. The objective of competency-based education is to have the elementary students know their expected skills by the end of a lesson. The lessons are created in a way that ensures the students have the skills and competencies necessary before moving on to the next level.

In brief, competency-based education is a method focused on having learners improve and master their fundamental academic skills. At MwalimuPLUS, we believe every student can not only learn the topics they learn in school, but also learn to enjoy it. It is almost impossible to get through a day without using some of the concepts they learn in school. Our world is full of ideas to handle and problems to solve. Studying various concepts provides us with tools to make sense of it all hence making life a little bit easier. For competency-based education to be successful at MwalimuPLUS, Guided Mastery approach is our bedrock. Guided mastery is a helpful method of assisting a person to raise their capability. It’s a step by step process that helps individuals bring about the perception of accomplishment. The psychologist Albert Bandura, talks about Guided Mastery approach. He gives an example of how to deal with this approach by showing that a person needs motivation and guidance to attempt and subsequently accomplish the task. As proficiency and confidence of performance are accomplished, the assistance is gradually withdrawn.

In their book Creative Confidence, David and Tom Kelly give an example of expert application of “Guided Mastery” by the eminent Prof. Albert Bandura (who is frequently referred to as ‘the greatest living psychologist’.) In fact, Dr. Bandura’s work scientifically validates something we at MwalimuPLUS already know – that learning abilities can be developed through a series of small successes. MwalimuPLUS guides users to master concepts they learn in school in small steps and this is exactly why MwalimuPLUS is well suited for the new Competency Based Learning curriculum.

In relation to competency-based education, the Guided Mastery approach of teaching is a method where teachers provide students with ample amount of support time which includes time to engage in student-centered activities that focus on problem-solving. For instance, when most of us were learning how to ride a bicycle, our guardians probably used this approach. Whereby, they got us a good bicycle, set a good scene for us (such as an empty parking lot, a paved school playground, or a flat, well-trimmed field). Once we got on the bicycle, the bike seat was held by them to help get steady and we began peddling. Eventually, after several attempts, the minute we got the hang of riding the bike seat was let go and we learnt how to ride. This step-by-step guidance brought about the confidence and ability to ride the bike as desired.

Let us go back to education. Our children need this sort of guidance in order for them to learn the subjects they cover in school. Just as the bicycle example, there are those of us who learnt quickly and others took time but at the end of it all, we all learnt how to ride a bicycle. Students learn best at their own pace. No matter how long it takes a student to master the basic mathematics concepts, with proper guidance they can master it. It is all about the process the teachers and parents take to help guide the student. Parents can support the students by providing motivation to enhance their self-motivation. It all begins with parents and teachers who are invested in our future generations.