New school curriculum will create multiple intelligences

Friday August 4 2017


Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang'i addresses meeting of headteachers from selected 470 schools for Pilot of the Reformed Curriculum on April 20, 2017 at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, Nairobi. A few weeks ago, the KICD  uploaded the new curriculum designs on its website. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By Wanjiku wa Njoroge

A few weeks ago, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development  uploaded the new curriculum designs on its website. These designs are being piloted at 470 schools across the country. It is expected that the feedback from the pilot programme will inform the final improvements on these designs as well as give guidance to further consultations among the stakeholders.

The elements in the curriculum that are being piloted include competence-based education, learner-centred teaching approaches, the development of multiple intelligences, differentiated learning styles, inquiry-based learning and the development of varied 21st Century competences. These are all essential in creating a value-based learning environment in a competence-based curriculum.

A key feature in the designs is the incorporation of pertinent and contemporary issues that cover a wide range of concerns. They include peace education, integrity, ethnic and racial relations, patriotism and good governance, gender issues, child care and protection, and social cohesion. The inclusion of these issues in learning experiences is intended to develop and nurture every learner in a holistic way. Another salient feature in the designs is the competence-based assessment approach. This is intended to enhance learning rather than drive competition among learners.

This adopted approach is a shift from the current system that has always compared the performance of learners with each other. This traditional system has been an unfair assessment approach that encourages learners to outperform each other. This is because the concept of intelligence in our school system has always been measured against the grade one obtains in the final examination. This is a narrow view that underrates other forms of intelligence, including emotional and moral intelligence. This mode of assessment exerts intense pressure on the learners to obtain a good grade.

In the new approach, assessment will focus on abilities, attitudes and aptitudes. In this way, the assessment will be geared towards developing and nurturing multiple intelligences in a learner.

The current system of assessment is based on the intelligence quotient (IQ). It is designed to judge students based purely on their academic performance. This mode of testing solely relies on a single type of intelligence. High performing individuals are given an excellent rating. Regrettably, this type of rating eliminates students who possess other sets of talents from the education system. As a result, the impression that is created in learners is misleading; that they must obtain a good grade in order to achieve success in life. Those who do not obtain the cut-off grade or points are unfairly labelled failures.


Modern research into learning shows that tests that measure just IQ have a narrow view of intelligence. The results from such studies are urging that more comprehensive tests be embraced in school systems. All-inclusive tests are intended to measure multiple intelligences in a learner. This is the approach that is desired in the anticipated curriculum reforms. It is expected that in the intended form of assessment, other types of intelligences will be nurtured and be recognised.

Experts indicate that a person’s IQ is not and should not be the only measure of their ability to succeed. Other intelligences should also be taken into consideration.  Apart from IQ, other highly rated types of intelligence are emotional intelligence (EQ) and moral intelligence (MQ), among others. Experts say an average score of these multiple intelligences will give an almost accurate indication of one’s ability to succeed in life. IQ tests mainly give a score on critical thinking and logical reasoning. They may also give one’s technical expertise in a field of knowledge. Notably, there have been countless incidences of intelligent individuals who rate highly in IQ but perform miserably in other competences at the workplace. To explain such occurrences, experts agree that although a high IQ is a requirement in any job placement, it should not be the only score to predict the overall performance of an individual. As one expert puts it, by itself, a high IQ does not guarantee that an individual will stand out and rise above everyone else.

Psychologists argue that an important aspect in one’s overall success in business or at the workplace depends on one’s ability to relate with others. In this 21st Century, this competence is collaboration. Others refer to it as human engineering. These personality traits have also been labelled soft skills.

Researchers indicate that an overwhelming 87 per cent of an individual’s success in business or a leadership position is dependent on this person’s ability to relate with others. Other competences that relate to someone’s soft skills include the ability to communicate, negotiate and work well with others. These skills fall under EQ, which teachers will be expected to develop in learners.

In nurturing this intelligence, teachers will be expected to train learners to be aware of their own feelings and those of others. It has been documented that a high level of EQ enables an individual to manage stress.

In developing MQ in learners, they will be educated on matters of integrity, respect, tolerance for others, responsibility, compassion and understanding. They will also be educated on honesty and commitment. These are critical values to one’s success in life. Without doubt, multi-intelligent