A new teaching and learning method is being introduced in all secondary institutions to tame burning of schools, riots and drug abuse among learners.
Under the new changes, it will be mandatory for secondary schools students to mingle with the local community to learn and acquire life skills.
The details are contained in Guidelines for Community Service Learning (CSL) – produced by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in January.
The programme will be piloted across selected schools ahead of national roll out.
County Directors of Education have already been instructed to identify schools in their regions where the pilot will be undertaken.
CSL is part of the intended national roll out of the new curriculum by the KICD. It is an experiential learning strategy that integrates classroom learning and community service to enable learners to reflect, experience and learn from the community.
In the process, students link personal and social development with academic and cognitive development, which enhance understanding and leads to effective action.
Under the new teaching method, for instance, students in a science class studying waste collection and recycling will be required to participate in a series of local clean-up projects.
The community will in turn receive help with waste management and informed recommendations on sustainable waste management.
Students in a life skills class learning about values such as empathy, compassion and social responsibility will discuss various ways through which the less fortunate members of the society can be assisted and how they can use values they have learnt in school to assist them.
The learning will only be complete by a visit to a local orphanage to assist the needy children with material things as well as sharing and spending time with them.
The guidelines say the aim of the learning process is to put a smile on the children’s faces and teach the learners compassion and empathy.
At each learning stage, before students undertake any activities, teachers will be required to conduct a discussion in class or other learning forums with the learners.
And after every activity, learners will be given time and guided to reflect on the activities they undertook to ensure it becomes a learning experience.
“These experiences are part and parcel of the learner’s curricula and provide structured time for reflection in order to enhance what is taught in school. The purpose of CSL is to extend learning beyond the classroom into the community,” read the guidelines.
This means that the bad manners where some students lock up fellow learners in a dormitory and set it a blaze will be reduced, as students will learn how to care for each other.
The students will also be taught how to be responsible citizens, conscious to protection of environment, human life and property.
The report of Special Investigation Team on schools fires (2016) revealed that the majority of the schools that experienced unrest were boarding schools, followed by Mixed/day boarding and day schools in that order.
Students cited sudden change of school rules, not being listened to, rampant caning and peer pressure as some of the reasons they burn schools. Teachers listed too many examinations, fear of examinations, principals overstaying in one station, drug abuse among students, lack of proper communication channels and revenge by indiscipline students as reasons schools were burnt.
The report, commissioned by former Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, blamed parents, members of the society, leaders and teachers of failing to be role models to the children.
Under the new curriculum, students will now have a chance to interact with the community living around their school during the learning process and pick up good manners.
The reformed curriculum has introduced CSL as a learning area that will be compulsory to all learners.
At senior school, CSL will be a standalone and compulsory subject. Learners will also be expected to carry out at least 135 hours of community service throughout their three years in senior school, outside of classroom time.
“Learners will be provided with a log book designed by KICD where members of the community overseeing the community service will sign against the hours served,” read the guidelines.
The logbook will form part of the summative assessment grade. This means that CSL will be allocated time in the senior school timetable during which content and discussions on the CSL strands will be handled.
The strands will include citizenship, life skills, communication, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and research.
The KICD Report on Needs Assessment for School Curriculum in Kenya (2016) also proposed that school holidays could be used for community service learning.
Overall, the guidelines cite a number of benefits that will accrue once the CSL is rolled out.
Under personal benefits, the document says there will be greater sense of personal efficacy, personal identity, spiritual growth and moral development.
There will also be greater interpersonal development, particularly the ability to work well with others, and build leadership and communication skills. There will be reduced stereotypes among students and inter-cultural understanding.
The CSL programme will connect students with professionals and community members for learning and career opportunities.