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Communication skills essential to holistic learning

OPINION
By Kennedy Buhere | August 31st 2021
Grade Four Pupils at Bidii Primary School in Nairobi in their classroom on January 4, 2020. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Among the capabilities basic education institutions are expected to develop in learners in the ongoing curriculum reforms, is the ability to communicate and collaborate. 

Communication and collaboration have been entrenched in the Basic Curriculum Framework, which is the blueprint for the seven core competencies or abilities that shall inform the educational experience of learners under the new education system.

The other six core abilities are self-efficacy, critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity and imagination, citizenship, digital literacy and learning to learn. While all the competencies are important in the life of every person and society, communication and collaboration are the foundation for all the others at formal and informal levels as well as in business, the workplace and at home. 

Essentially, communication is the tool by which people share information. Communication as a skill, as an aptitude and as a process, is therefore a lodestar of some sort in the whole question about quality education. It is what makes collaboration in an organisation possible. The reason communication is core is that proficiency in communication is central for individuals to attain their personal, group and institutional goals and to realise the very essence of their humanity individually.

Ability to read thoughtfully and to write are aspects of communication competence that literate people ought to have. Teachers in basic education institutions have the professional task to develop these basic skills in learners; they are the foundation stone for post-secondary education and training and work. Indeed, the best preparation for vocational education is a solid preparation in reading, writing, mathematics and reasoning. 

We have colonial-era primary and secondary schools libraries stocked with books; with models of excellent writing. We have fiction and nonfiction books. We have books that have simplified scientific and mathematical concepts for readers. We have reference books such as encyclopedia, biographies of great statesmen and scientists. We have Atlases.

Leisurely reading of these and other books greatly develops one’s ability to think and also to write for heuristic and utilitarian purposes. One way to demonstrate that one is on the way to acquiring communication competence is by jotting down bits and pieces of information and impressions about your experiences, impressions and attitudes particular situations and people stimulate in you.

In addition, extensive reading does not just help a student sharpen his communication skills; it helps one to acquire knowledge about a formidable quantity of different matters—in history, in Civics, Religion, Science, International Relations, Mathematics, Environment among other matters. As communication is sharing information and knowledge, one cannot communicate without having something to communicate. It is the quantity of knowledge, information that one has acquired through education and through assiduous reading and listening that in turn we use to make sense of life.

-Mr Buhere is a Communications Officer, Ministry of Education

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