I conceive that I have at present no authority to challenge Kenya's curriculum development and education management experts since they were my teachers and instructors at the university both at undergraduate and postgraduate studies.
They are solid academics and their credentials were never an issue during their interviews and vetting.
But to paraphrase Thomas Macaulay's Minute on (Indian) Education (1835), I can confidently contend that we are engaged in a waste of public money, by printing books which are of less value than the paper on which they are printed; by giving artificial encouragement to absurd history, science, Kiswahili and religion; for raising up a breed of scholars who find their scholarship an encumbrance and a blemish, who live on the public while they are receiving their education, and whose education is so utterly useless to them that when they have received it they must either starve or live on the public all the rest of their lives.
For those entertaining the opinions that pervade the current reform process, I decline all share in the responsibility of what is happening, which unless it alters its whole mode of proceedings, I consider not merely as useless, but as positively noxious to this generation and those to come. We can do better but we refuse for political and commercial reasons.
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The curriculum should ordinarily provide a 'feast of knowledge for growth and stimulation of the mind- especially a young mind at the foundation stages.
In devising curriculums for a child, of whatever social class, three points must be considered: the child requires much knowledge, for the mind needs sufficient food as much as does the body.
The knowledge should be varied, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite (i.e., curiosity), the knowledge should be communicated in well-chosen language because the child’s attention responds naturally to what is conveyed in a form they are familiar with and or understand. At this point in time, we need to remind ourselves as a nation what is the language of instruction at the catchment level of our ECDE and early learning years? Have we resourced and re-tooled our teachers well enough to deliver on this aspect of instruction?
Producing frameworks with a healthy supply of knowledge allows the learner’s mind to stay active. For example, reading creative books that are not on the curriculum books list allows thoughts to be constantly stimulated with challenging thoughts and ideas. It’s guaranteed to bust boredom with true, real-life events and situations! It gives the learner a trove of ammunition from which to borrow when the syllabus requires more and the class mental reservoir is on empty.
If we were to be practical, what are the new areas of knowledge that we need to inculcate in the learners in school today? Are we on the right trajectory when in the early years, we split learning areas but start compounding them at the beginning of junior secondary? What philosophy and/or thesis is applied here?
Parents and Boards of Management, parents’ associations and other stakeholders need to be pragmatically brought on board for this new light to shine. We need new thinking and I dare say new light!
The dearth on CSO voices in the education sector does not bode well. We have to take back the hour clock and find countering CSO voices for accountability remains an agenda for the whole nation.
We have not had leadership in the education sector. We need to act and do differently.
If we get to a general understanding that leaders can be prosecuted for making wrong policy decisions; then we will be starting to safeguard our education sector, which is the anchor of all national development.
Whoever becomes the next Cabinet Secretary has the inescapable task of returning education to the national discourse table and agreeing on the way forward.
The sector's leadership needs to explain to us what their thinking on CBC entails. It is not wrong for them to come to us and say; - we made a mistake in the past!
Teachers need to be at the centre of the new approach since design and instruction are their forte.
Teacher unions are being treated like the step-child in the process and they need to be returned to the table…this will not bode well without them for they are the fulcrum upon which education reform rotates.
By neutering the unions for asking hard questions about the design and reform process, we made a grave mistake. We now have to return to them and find our bearing and just do the right thing for the generations we are committing to put to the future.
The writer is a trained teacher and policy expert.