Let’s forge ahead with the new curriculum
Some called it a flip flop. But, the about turn by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed on implementation of the new curriculum should be commended. As Kijana Wamalwa aptly put it, a good idea must give way to a better idea. The Cabinet Secretary’s initial decision to shelve the roll out until next year may have been a good idea, especially in light of the realities she was faced with. But, to forge ahead with the new 2-6-3-3-3 system was definitely the better idea.
Sometime in early stages of the development of the new Curriculum, the Ministry of Education invited religious leaders for a comprehensive briefing on the proposed new education system. The workshop at the Silver Springs Hotel, brought together senior Church leaders from the National Council of Churches (NCCK), Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK) and the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). It was led by senior Ministry officials, including top leaders from the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD). The Church leaders were generally quite impressed by the innovative thinking that had gone into restructuring our education system to meet current and future needs of the nation.
Critical in this new system is that it is a competency-based curriculum. This means its ultimate focus is on what learners are expected to do rather than the current focus on what they are expected to know. As shared with us, the desire was to make learning more practical and meaningful. Thus, competency was conceptualised as the ability to apply learning resources and outcomes (knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes) adequately in a defined context (education, work, personal, or professional development). Furthermore, the design was the result of surveys on international best practices in education systems and curriculum reforms.
Of a truth, from the moment I understood what this system was all about, I wholeheartedly bought into it. Having gone through the now extinct Technical Schools for my secondary schooling, I have come to appreciate why basic practical skills are useful to one’s daily life. I have consistently found the basic technical skills we acquired on electrical, mechanical, plumbing, motor vehicle, carpentry and building works very useful in undertaking most repairs around the house. Most graduates of such schools, even those who did not pursue higher education, are self-reliant – many running their own workshops or firms. In our days, it was rare to find any graduates of Technical Secondary Schools roaming the streets or yawning in parks in joblessness.
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Looking at where the world is headed, we must position our children to compete with the best minds in the world. Such brains are not found job-seeking on the streets. Nay, they are in major research labs engaged in innovative research. They are found in home cubicles creating new solutions to solve human problems. They are in the Silicon Valley, creating new techno gadgets for running our lives. They are working on artificial intelligence that will soon render all manual labourers extinct. And, believe it or not, they are in European soccer fields raking in millions of British Pounds from around the world!
Let us face it: Part of the reason Asia – especially China, Japan, South Korea, and India – is taking over the world, is because they have spent many years training their children on technical skills. China, for example, has strong arrangements to ensure teachers in upper secondary schools remain abreast of the requirements of modern industry. Teachers in such schools are required to spend one month in industry each year, or two months every two years. In contrast, Kenyan teachers are required to participate in a strike at least once a year! Our children are on the other hand pushed to attain the magical 400 marks in KCPE; and at KCSE, are celebrated like the Ikolomani bulls for attaining A’s that mostly lead them to a dead end!
If we are to catch up, the pessimists against the new curriculum need to sober up and embrace change.
Likewise, those married to the 8-4-4 system should accept that, whereas the system had its benefits, it has served its season and needs to be laid to rest with its forefathers. Of course, it is apparent that not everything is in place to ensure the efficient implementation of the new system. But, as the wise man Solomon said, “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” We cannot wait for favourable circumstances forever! Let us instead work in concert to ensure success.
- The writer is the Presiding Bishop of Christ is the Answer Ministries. [email protected]
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Education Cabinet Secretary Amina MohamedNCCKCBCNew Curriculum