New syllabus holds key to ending joblessness

The various projects force a learner to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well as creativity and imagination.

When I recently read the story of Hilary Kiplagat, a young man with an MBA from University of Nairobi, who opted to start a boda boda business because he couldn’t get a white collar job, I quickly thought the much-publicised Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) may just be the magic bullet that Kenya has been waiting for to create entrepreneurial skills amongst our youth.

Mr Kiplagat’s story, though a common narrative in Kenya, is very encouraging because he has not let his unemployment dampen his spirit. The Master’s degree holder has refused to allow his lack of a white-collar job define his destiny and now ekes out a living in a sector that most of his classmates would avoid like plague.

However, his story brings out a problem that is all too common in Kenya today. Kenya has been churning out university graduates by the hundreds in the recent years to a job market that can’t accommodate all of them.

As per Kenya National Bureau of Statistics 2018 survey, seven million Kenyans are unemployed, with some 1.4 million of them desperately looking for jobs.

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Further, statistics show that when graduates fail to get jobs, they go back to college to acquire yet another degree or diploma certificate.

This is the wrong mentality since an extra academic qualification does not necessarily guarantee one a job in Kenya.

It is high time the Ministry of Education incorporated entrepreneurial skills into the curriculum in primary schools to open the minds of learners to the ocean of opportunities that await them out there.

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That is why the CBC is timely and God sent.

Lemonade stands

Curriculum experts tell us that CBC seeks to make learners competent in seven key areas; communication and collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity and imagination, citizenship, digital literacy, learning to learn and self-efficacy.

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In the developed countries, learners are exposed to entrepreneurial ventures at a young age, be through setting up lemonade stands outside their gates at home or going door-to-door selling cookies or even coming up with creative science or art projects.

The various projects force a learner to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well as creativity and imagination.

These may not necessarily be the projects to be taken in Kenya but the approach of instilling the entrepreneurship skill is.

With an entrepreneurial mindset introduced early in a child’s education, it will make one to think outside the predictable employment box.

Waiting until a learner gets to university to develop this mindset may be too late.

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Entrepreneurship education benefits students from all socio-economic backgrounds because it teaches children to think outside the box and nurtures unconventional talents and skills. We can no longer afford to close the stable door when the horse has bolted!

Larger society

The burden of developing this mindset should not be left to teachers alone. Parents and the larger society also play a vital role here.

Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, for instance, emphasises what the parents’ role is in the CBC.

A parent being the first educator, trainer and source of authority that a child encounters, should also find innovative ways to allow learners to engage with the world around them.

These can easily be woven into daily family conversations, activities and tasks.

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From dinner time conversations, Sunday afternoon games and other family social activities, the entrepreneurial philosophies can easily be adapted and internalised.

Some other ways in which entrepreneurship lessons can be integrated in the CBC is by exposing learners to real businesses, developing creativity through imagination, challenging their thinking skills and improving their research skills early on.

I long for the day when our children will be instrumental, with the guidance of the teachers, in running canteens, farms, tack shops and other income generating ventures in their schools with regular performance reports.

This is how we will produce the next generation of entrepreneurs and inventors who will take Kenya and Africa to the next level.   

This is why I call upon all stakeholders to support the Government’s efforts as it embarks on the long journey towards effective and efficient implementation of CBC because it will surely create a positive long-term impact in learners.

CBC could just be the silver bullet to give us the innovative thinkers and investors who will in turn become employment creators to help us achieve the goals of Kenya’s Vision 2030.

Ms Mulindi is a communications specialist

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CBCKenya National Bureau of StatisticsUniversity of NairobiCompetency Based Curriculum