Kenyan Education system problem is deeper than the curriculum

JulietEducation in Kenya, Eneza MediaLeave a Comment

Image Courtesy of Huffington Post

It is interesting to note that before any new curriculum is launched, the experts talk about moving from knowledge based approaches to competency based or skill based or even talk about aspects such as individualized learning, self paced learning among others. All these aspects are usually addressed by ALL curricula.

A noteworthy point is that no curriculum is bad, because before any change is effected in curriculum, the following processes is followed: Need Analysis, Consulting the stakeholders, Curriculum Framework, Curriculum Design, Pilot, Analysis of the outcomes, Launching the curriculum, Measurement and Evaluation of the impact of the curriculum and outcomes.

Does it take more than 30 years to realize that a curriculum is not working? So ridiculous to realize that learners have different potential after a current curriculum produces unsatisfactory outcomes. For success to be realized, the curriculum planning, implementation and the measuring processes have to be on focus. In all these processes the focal points boil down to:

  1. The Learner: For learning outcomes to be realized, the learner is usually at the core of the curriculum implementation and measurement. A few questions to ask:
    • What role does the learner play in self learning?
    • What contribution does the learner bring to the community.
    • What measures of success must the learner exhibit for learning to have taken place?

      This is when we talk about the learner centered approach where the learner controls his/her learning. Just to ask: Are the learners joining schools prepared enough by parents to learn by themselves or learning will begin as soon as they are enrolled in the pre-school? The parents and the community have to be the vision bearers of the learner-centered approach working hand in hand with teachers.
  2. The Teacher: For the curriculum to be realized through learners, the teacher is central: When he/she is not trained on how to nurture potential in learners, how will he/she do it?  If a teacher is not able to sew a table mat, how do you expect him or her to pass the same knowledge to a learner? First, there needs to be a continuous back and forth sessions with the teachers to make them understand the paradigm shift in the  learning approach of any new curriculum, this should be done before the curriculum is launched.

How can this work?

  • Teacher Education Curriculum: The guidelines of teacher training must be skill based so that the teacher has the first hand experience of how it feels to be nurtured in potential. Teacher education content should clearly outline the processes starting from identifying learner differences, nurturing potential and letting the learner practice what they have learnt.
    Teacher training has to be intense with feedback sessions allocated more time so as to ensure there is desired outcome. Role plays, dramatization and scenario building have to be the backbone of the training. Let us put the lecture method aside, at least for now.The trainer should be the role model clearly showing the teacher how they need to handle the learner at every stage in different scenarios.
  • The Learning Materials: Quality materials is paramount to the desired learning outcomes. For change to happen what the learners consume has to change. This means the learning materials have to be in line with the curriculum; the textbooks should be focusing on skills as opposed to knowledge.
  • Testing and Evaluation: For learners to be graded as per their abilities, to articulate the competencies in specific stages, the continuous assessments have to be shifted from summative evaluation to formative evaluation. This is where learning milestones, competencies acquired are measured and not knowledge retention. The test items should focus more on practicals, skills and attitudes that grade learners individually outlining their learning abilities.

What can make a curriculum not give ‘desired’ results?

Inconsistencies. These occurs when curriculum implementers are not able to continuously supply the curriculum needs to ensure it yields the desired outcomes. For example, when the teacher and the learners do not access the teaching and learning aids – materials needed for practical lessons, they get frustrated. What is likely to happen is that few teachers will improvise teaching aids just for a while, others will resort to only passing knowledge, hence taking us back to this knowledge-based curriculum that we are running away from.

Follow up: When the trainers in collaboration with Curriculum Quality Assurance personnels walk with the teachers by observing them through the actual instruction delivery period while giving constructive and specific feedback, for sure we shall have tremendously positive results. This should be a continuous activity that will ensure the maintenance of the desired standards of teaching and learning activities.

The same way there should be identification of the potential in learners and nurturing, let educationists take time to understand the language of the curriculum, identify the potentialities and nurture the diverse potential in each curriculum, for sure, not only shall we change the naming of our class levels but change and explore the best methods and approaches to learning as well.

Cross posted with permission from Polly Expressions.

About the author

Polly Okaron is our lead content coordinator. A teacher by profession, Polly is passionate about children empowerment through education. With more than 800,000 users, Eneza plans to expand to 50 million by 2022. 

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