The elusive values and unsung strategic partners in this year's drama festivals

Menengai High School Nakuru present a play Confirmed by Silas Temba at the 60th edition of the annual Kenya Schools and Colleges Drama and Film Festival at Kibabii University on Day 2 of the event. PHOTO/ GEORGE ORIDO
The Kenya National Drama and Film Festival started on Wednesday at Kibabii University in Bungoma. Being an annual event, it is yet another golden opportunity presented to tap, nurture and educate both the learners and audiences on a variety of issues through drama.

Among others, the event’s objectives include educating and creating awareness on topical and emerging issues, offering a platform for career awareness and choices in the vast creative arts industry as well as providing a forum for learners to share and cherish their artistic experiences not only as Kenyan citizens but as bona fide members of the East African Community and the global village as a whole.

Performers are drawn from pre-primary, primary and secondary schools. Others are special needs education and post-secondary institutions as well as universities making an all-round jamboree.

Unlike any other

The ultimate goal of the festival is to foster the holistic development of the artistic potential and talent among learners, including producing responsible citizens.

It is worth observing that the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) requires that learners understand and appreciate artistic and cultural expression through drama, music, choreography, creative writing and public speaking, among other means.

Each learner therefore must be given a chance to participate and gain the appropriate knowledge, attitudes, values and competencies.

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In particular, drama is known to immensely enhance positive teamwork as a key component in the growth of society.

The festival’s theme: Promoting moral responsibility among the youth through theatre and film, is timely given the palpable values as well as the behavioural quagmire that both the young people find themselves in.

Despite values being important in the development and tranquility of any nation, a big chunk of the youth do not exhibit the desirable ones, leave alone right attitudes and psychosocial competencies that are required to operate as responsible citizens.

The Constitution identifies responsibility, respect, care and compassion, understanding and tolerance, excellence, trust and being ethical as some of the values that should be cherished.

Interestingly, in spite of the efforts being made to instill the desired values among learners and society in general through the education system, including co-curricular activities like drama and music, the learners often do not display them in both their words and deeds.

Many questions unanswered

The several cases of indiscipline, including stealing, cheating in exams, fighting, bullying, drug consumption and abuse and sexual offences witnessed in our institutions of learning attest to this fact.

Given this status, many questions arise. What could aptly justify this scenario?

Is it to do with an inappropriate education system? Could the new syllabus be the panacea to these challenges? The situation is compounded by the fact that there are no immediate and clear answers to such questions.

Commendable effort has been made to align this year’s theme with the seven competencies stipulated in the CBC.

These are citizenship, communication and collaboration, self-efficacy, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and imagination, digital literacy as well as learning to learn.

Apart from providing learners with an experiential and participatory learning environment, the KNDFF handbook stipulates that performers be given an opportunity to think critically and express their feelings both creatively and collaboratively.

Festival has expanded

The festival has an expanded scope and number of institutions involved. This requires that a variety of relevant approaches be applied as well.

The KICD partners with KNDFF to promote the development of national values and talents among learners.

As the curriculum development agency, it recognizes drama as a key co-curricular activity in the education system.

According to the KNDFF handbook, the event reinforces CBC because emphasis is heavily laid on the practical rendition of the syllabus under the Arts and Sports Science pathway at the senior school level.

Here, learners are allowed to specialize in music, dance, theatre and elocution.

Dr Nyatuka is Chairman, Department of Educational Foundations, Kisii University

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Drama and Film FestivalKenya National Drama and Film Festivalsecondary schoolspre-primaryprimary