Why government should sensitize parents on their role in new curriculum

The Kenya National Examinations Council has just completed a monitoring exercise among the Grade 3 learners. The Kenya Early Years Assessment (KEYA) sought to provide large-scale feedback on the learning outcomes at the formative stage that will inform further decisions. The monitoring exercise, which ended on 20th September 2019, will inform on learning achievements attained by learners in Grade 3.

Most of these learning outcomes have directly involved the parents in one way or the other through the provision of the necessary learning materials, assisting the learners in performing given tasks, monitoring, and reporting. During the process, parents raised concerns over the high cost of implementing the new curriculum and the manner in which crucial information is released to them in piecemeal. This raises questions on whether these parents and guardians have been adequately sensitized on their roles, which are critical to the success of the new curriculum.

Studies have shown that parents’ involvement in the education of their children is linked to their children’s improved activities in school, better academic outcomes, and emotional adjustment. However, if there was a time parents were called upon to be actively engaged in the learning of their children, that time is here with the roll-up of the new competency-based curriculum.

The new curriculum calls upon parents to actively participate in school activities at home and in the broader community. It puts the parent in a very crucial position, which will directly influence their learners’ expected outcomes at different stages. Since it emphasizes life skills and evaluates mastery of those skills according to the actual learner performance, parents need adequate information to understand their role fully.

Despite the government investing a lot in the training of teachers and the provision of learning materials in schools, very little seems to have been directed towards the sensitization of parents on their crucial role in the successful implementation of this curriculum. As a result, many parents feel ‘ambushed’ by the many calls from the teachers to provide certain learning materials, supervise a given task, or carry out an assessment of a given activity.

One of the performance tasks in the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) guidelines for the Kenya Early Year Assessment (KEYA) for Grade 3, 2019, for instance, reads, ‘With the help of their parents/guardians, each learner to improvise at least one relevant material for cleaning the market place’. In such a case, it is evident that the parent/guardian is not only expected to provide the learner with the required materials but also contribute his/her creativity in collaboration with the learner, in coming up with relevant content for the assigned task.

Among the guiding principles of the CBC is parental empowerment and engagement. The curriculum recognizes the crucial role to be played by the parents in their children’s education. According to this guideline, parents have a shared responsibility with schools to provide an enabling environment that is conducive to learning and motivates learners to fulfill their potential. As a result, the framework provides opportunities for schools to empower parents to contribute to their children’s learning outcomes and to be engaged at all levels of primary education. One of the significant ways of the envisaged empowerment is the creation of awareness through seminars and special meetings.

Even though some private schools have taken up the initiative to sensitize the parents on their role in the new curriculum, many schools across the country are yet to take up this initiative. Since parental involvement is a combination of both commitment and active participation on the part of the parent to the school and the child, schools need to start considering parents as active collaborators in the learning of their children. They should endeavor to ensure parents are well informed on the demands of the new curriculum and why their involvement is essential in ensuring that their children attain the desired outcomes.