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State plans Sh6 billion radical review of schools’ curriculum

By By OSINDE OBARE | Published Wed, December 18th 2013 at 00:00, Updated December 18th 2013 at 08:01 GMT +3
KICD Chairman Erastus Kinyanjui (right) and Nicholas Letting, Deputy Chief Business Strategist at the Management University of Africa, during a stakeholders meeting at KIE, Nairobi, Tuesday.  [PHOTO: BEVERLYNE MUSILI/STANDARD]

By Augustine Oduor

Kenya: A radical review of the primary and secondary schools curriculum that will give the Government total control of what is taught in these institutions is under way.

The review and implementation of new rules is estimated to cost the government Sh6 billion, and institutions that do not comply with the set standards will be closed down in a crackdown to enforce the regulations.

It will be mandatory for all schools to present their syllabus to the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) for approval.

These include private academies and high cost international schools that have not had their curriculum regulated but which, authorities say, would be shut down if they failed to comply.

KICD has drafted regulations that will be presented to Parliament for approval once the House reconvenes next year. These regulations are designed to implement the KICD Act 2013 that was passed by Parliament as part of measures to reform the education sector.

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Education Permanent Secretary Belio Kipsang yesterday warned local and foreign schools administering unapproved curriculum that they would be closed down. Dr Kipsang said what is taught to Kenyan children must be vetted and approved by KICD. “If there is any institution that is already offering such unapproved content then they should have been closed down already,” he added.

The PS said the Sh6 billion would not be entirely footed by the government, as the private sector will also contribute. “This cost will be shared by the private sector because it will also involve development of curriculum material among other things,” said Dr Kipsang.

KICD will also vet textbooks used in schools, and indications are that some will be dropped in a radical review to enhance the quality of education.

Shunned by publishers

Publishers have, however, accused KICD of attempting to take up their publishing role.

The Kenya Publishers Association chairman Lawrence Njagi said the KICD Act mandates it to develop, review and approve programs, curricula and curricula support materials should be amended.

“This means that KICD will also publish books and other materials. How can they vet and approve what they have published?” Njagi posed.

The regulations to guide the review of curriculum says KICD shall constitute a relevant subject panel to develop the support materials.

These materials will include digital content, syllabuses and books. “We have already taken up the issue with the Cabinet Secretary and his PS and we are in agreement that KICD cannot publish and vet their own content,” said Njagi.

But KICD officials explained that the institution would only develop content in areas shunned by publishers. “Areas like foreign languages, mother tongue and other areas where publishers fear they would not do good business will be developed by us,” said a senior official.

Yesterday, representatives of publishers, civil society organisations, parents’ associations, primary and secondary school associations met to review the regulations before their presentation to Parliament.

The draft regulations say that any institution that intends to offer local curricular not developed by the KICD shall submit their curricula to the institute for evaluation, vetting and approval at a prescribed fee.

KICD shall evaluate the local curricula in respect to the profile of the submitting institution, needs assessment report for the submitted curricular, competence and objectives of learning outcomes.

Special needs

“There are so many academies that currently teach children yet their curricula has not been vetted. Any school teaching our children must have the right curriculum,” said Nathan Barasa, the chair of Kenya National Parents and Teachers Association. The institutions will also only have their curricula approved based on their implementation strategies, the process they used in developing them and availability of teaching, learning resources and persons to implement their curriculum.

The KICD Act also says that any person who purports to develop any curriculum in respect of any institution shall have committed an offence and “shall be liable to conviction for a period not exceeding three years or a fine not exceeding one million shillings or both.”

The Act says that no person shall develop or implement any curriculum or curriculum materials in respect to any education institution to which the Act applies. The Act mandates KICD to develop, review and approve programs, curricula and curriculum support materials that meet international standards.

And the institution shall vet instruction materials for early childhood care, pre-primary education, primary and secondary schools.

It is also mandated to vet curriculum for adult, continuing and non-formal education, teacher education and training, special needs education and the technical and vocational education and training institutions.

KICD director Lydia Nzomo said the institution has started the curriculum review. “This is a process that may take two or more years but what is important is completion of the exercise,” she said.

She said KICD is set to devolve some of its staff to the counties to help in the vetting of curriculum. “We may not send our officers to the 46 counties outside Nairobi. But what we shall do is to request in the 2014/15 budget to send at least 20 for a start,” said Dr Nzomo.

Nzomo said the institute is consulting stakeholders on the policy. “After this we shall prepare a curriculum design, write the curriculum and after that prepare support material,” she said.

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