Research Key

The Challenges faced by Teachers using the Competence-Based Approach (CBA) affects the Teaching of Writing in Secondary Schools in the Buea Municipality

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This study was aimed at investigating how the Challenges faced by Teachers using the Competence-Based Approach (CBA) Impacts the Teaching of Writing in Secondary Schools in the Buea Municipality. Three specific research objectives were formulated for this study which was:

To measure the extent to which lack of in-service training of teachers using the CBA influences the teaching of writing. To examine the extent to which insufficient teaching and learning resources have an impact on the teaching of writing.

To find out the extent to which overcrowded classrooms influences the teaching of writing. These research objectives were further translated into three research questions. The research design used for this study was the Case Study research design.

The purposive sampling technique was used. Only Arts teachers who teach English Language were used for the study. The reason for this is to get first-hand information on teachers’ effectiveness in the teaching of writing using the CBA.

Hence, the researcher took extra care to select those English Language teachers who can provide pertinent information which satisfy the requirements of the research purpose, on the aspect of professional development, teaching methods and materials as well as the methods of assessment used in the presentation of lessons. Data for this study was collected using interview and analyzed thematically.

From the data analysis, it could be concluded that teachers encounter a series of challenges in the teaching of writing. In the area of in-service training of teacher, the findings reveal that teachers hardly attend pedagogic seminars due to lack of information, the issue of insecurity and high participation fee.

They are highly involved in teacher reflective practices, clarity, peer observation which helps to improve their professional development thus enhancing the teaching of writing and learners’ acquisition of knowledge. The ministry of Secondary Education should ensure that pedagogic workshops and seminars are organized frequently to impart teachers with the skills and competencies required to teach the subject.

Teachers should be informed where and when these workshops would take place since most of them are stationed in enclave areas. The cost should also be minimized so that teachers would be motivated to attend.



 According to Richard and Rodgers (2001), learning English as a foreign language generally entails the exposure of learners to the four skills are listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The amount of exposure to any of these skills varies according to the objectives set for the teaching procedure.

As its name suggests, the Reading Method, for example, stresses the reading skill and thus gives priority to reading in comparison to listening, speaking, and writing. The Aural/oral Method for its part lays more emphasis on listening and speaking about reading and writing.

Writing as a skill has come to play an important role in foreign language teaching because of the many benefits it provides. In much the same way as the other skills, writing may be described as helping learners to gain ability in the foreign language.

Probably more than the other skills, and because of the great production time pupils take to plan and revise their text before, it is put in final appearance, the writing skill gives foreign language learners a sense of control over the language being taught, and allows them to learn more about how English works.

Also, writing is a skill mostly used to examine pupils’ performances. This is particularly the case of the Cameroonian educational system where written examinations are the means teachers and examiners use to qualify learners to pass to higher levels (Richards and Rodgers 2001).

The teaching of English in the Cameroonian educational system has witnessed many changes of methods from Grammar Translation to more so-called ‘modern approaches’. Within this development, the latest to date to be adopted is the Competency-based Approach. This new approach, which seeks to found competencies in learners, has been embraced since the school year 2012-2014.

Competency-based education (CBE) is surging in popularity as schools around the world scramble to implement their own versions of competency-based curricula (Ash, 2012; Mulder, Eppin, & Akkermans, 2011; Nederstigt & Mulder, Wong, 2008).

What is behind this newfound popularity and what does it really mean for language teachers, classrooms, and students? This leads us to our topic which is challenges faced by teachers using the competence-based approach in teaching writing in the Buea municipality.

This work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one comprises the background of the study, the justification of the study, the statement of the problem, research objectives, research questions, significant of the study and operational definition of terms. 

Chapter two reviews conceptual, theoretical and empirical literature apt to this study. Chapter three sets out to present the methodology that this study will be analyzed. Chapter four presents the finding and analysis and chapter five discuss the presented findings and results of the challenges teachers face in teaching writing using the competence-based approach.

Background of the Study

Historical Background

The writing was a subject on its own under the German educational system in Cameroon. It continued throughout the British and French Educational system of Cameroon during the colonial era. From 1976, the orientation of education in Cameroon was driven towards grooming young Cameroonians who will learn skills in school and be productive thus driving the Cameroon economy towards industrialisation.

At this point, education was given a central role in making Cameroon industrialized. Cognizant of the role education will play in the drive towards industrialization, the 1995 forum of education in Cameroon became a major turning point in Cameroon’s educational history as the focus now bent on education for all (Weddel, 2006).

According to the document of the sector-wide approach, in 1996 the consecration of education by the National Constitution as a major mission of the state was made. One of the major preambles of the constitution of 16th January 1996 states that: the organisation and control of education at every level is the responsibility of the State.

Cognizant to this constitution, appropriate mechanisms were put in place to ensure that teachers effectively implement quality education with an emphasis on the teaching methods that teachers were supposed to use to effective teaching in the classrooms and the quality of didactic materials and assessment techniques to be used in teaching and learning in the secondary schools (Folegwe, 2006).

Also, the official document Programmes de la Deuxième Année Moyenne states that the Competency-based language Approach (CBLA) at Secondary aims at the establishment of three competencies: first, to interact orally which involves spoken communication in English. Secondly, to interpret authentic oral or written documents.

This requires learners to display their comprehension through some mostly oral reformulation of authentic oral or written documents. Thirdly, to produce simple oral or written documents and this calls learners to generate simple oral or written messages (Dyson, 2017).

The fact that it is expressed as the first stated competence sought after, oral interaction in English may be described as being given prominence in this approach, and be considered as the “key competence”. This is further confirmed by the Document d’Accompagnement des Programmes de la Deuxième Année Moyenne when it clearly states that in the teaching of English as a foreign language, in second-year middle school, priority is given to oral skills (82).

Later in the mid-1960s, English Language teachers realized that students needed to focus not only on the grammatical accuracy of the sentences they produced but also the functions of writing. Thus, teachers adopted a rhetorical function approach where they shifted the teaching focus from sentence-level accuracy to a discourse level that emphasized the purposes of writing such as description, comparison, and contrast.

Since the 1970s, the process approach to writing has gained popularity. Instead of focusing primarily on the form/correctness of the writing, teachers now encourage students to pay attention to macro-level communicative purposes. The process approach aims to let the students’ ideas decide the form of a piece of writing (Silva, 1990).

Contextual Background

The shift from the objective-based approach to the competence-based approach in English at the secondary level in Cameroon places too much emphasis on real-life situations and the vocabulary thereof, in its current field implementation.

Apart from vocabulary, the other structural components are very shallowly dealt with, not only grammar but, much more the teaching of pronunciation and speech sounds. Using the contents analysis theory, the paper brings up the shallow presence of English sounds, a paramount element in pronunciation and oral communication in the curriculum (Nforbi, 2018).

The implementation of the Competency-Based Approach (CBA) has given teachers a hard time in several educational contexts worldwide, including Cameroon. In the domain of English language teaching, the emphasis has been laid so far on the why the aspect of the reform and on context-related challenges to its implementation, whereas very little has been said about how teachers in under-resourced contexts could implement it successfully in their classrooms (Leila, 2017).

Nforbi and Siéwoué (2016), put out that the implementation of the 2012 CBA curriculum was not adequate partly because of lack of understanding, and partly because of apathy on the part of the teachers. The understanding problems were recorded as the strange terminology (families of situations, categories of actions, outcome, and skills.

Again, the pedagogic seminars organized annually as a forum for teachers’ continuous training used to gather very few teachers, the heads of departments from the various schools, whereas it could be opened to all the teachers.

Teachers in the study reported serious problems in lesson planning (scheme of work, lesson plan), lesson delivery (lack of didactic materials and uneasy individualization of the teaching) and language testing (no formal testing format, uneasy individualization, lack of testing guidance …).

Though the seminars prove that this approach could be very promising for the development of learners’ four basic language skills, the teachers’ heart cry is for guidance, the explication of the new method (understanding, planning, teaching and testing) and adapted didactic materials such as relevant course books (Nforbi and Siéwoué, 2016).

Justification of the Study

Years ago, people would not believe that writing is so important in language development, as such very little attention was giving to how pupils and students write (Chappell & Di Martino, 2006). “Just a few decades ago, the very notion that writing plays a vital role in our day to day life was unthinkable” (Ruffini, 2006, 159).

Also, we observe, ineffectiveness in the teaching of writing in secondary schools in the Buea municipality as a result of the challenges teachers face in using the CBA in teaching writing.

Moreover, lack of in-service training, as well as lack of teaching-learning resources, will hamper learner’s creativity because teachers will still use the rote methods of teaching which are not aligned to the needs of the learners. The CBA has laid modalities for the methods that teachers are supposed to use for teaching as a result, lack of the above criteria will retard teachers effectiveness.

Statement of the Problem

In our context (Cameroon), several teaching methods have been used to teach writing skill. However, the Competency-based Approach CBA has proved to be more workable. Thus, the mastery of writing is supposed to create an atmosphere for secondary school students to do a lot of writing in the classroom.

But, some students fear making spelling or grammatical mistakes or even in punctuation and as such, it turns to reduce their performance in official examinations due to poor handwriting.

However, this poor performance could be attributed to the fact that despite the stipulated methods cited in the secondary school English Language syllabus, teachers don’t still understand how to teach writing effectively using the CBA (Chelli, 2015).

Cognizant to the lack of in-service training on the path of teachers, the insufficient teaching and learning resources, the quality of learning is hampered as reflected on students’ academic performance in the subject.

Also, besides the lack of in-service training for teachers and teaching resources, there is yet a bigger challenge that could hinder the quality of lesson delivery, that is the fact of an overcrowded classroom. Due to the overcrowded nature of the classrooms, teachers might not be able to focus on the needs and learning styles of students.

If these challenges are not handled, it is possible that even though the CBA is a good policy the quality of lesson delivery will be poor thus affecting students’ academic performance negatively. It is against this background that the researcher set out to verify the various challenges faced by teachers using the CBA in teaching writing.

Objectives of the study

General objectives

To find out the extent to which the challenges faced by teachers using the competence-based approach (CBA) affects the teaching of writing in secondary schools in the Buea Municipality.

Specific objectives

The following specific objectives were coined for the study;

  1. To measure the extent to which lack of in-service training of teachers using the CBAinfluences the teaching of writing.
  2. To examine the extent to which insufficient teaching and learning resources have an impact on the teaching of writing.
  3. To find out the extent to which overcrowded classrooms influences the teaching of writing.
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