Education is key to sustainable development. Suppose an unfriendly foreign power imposed on us an education system in which some children graduate from school without the basic competencies of reading, writing and arithmetic? We would consider that an act of aggression. Yet this is where Kenya finds itself.
There is a widespread public perception that something is amiss with our education system. Our society and the institutions of learning seem to have lost sight of the basic purposes of schooling. Yet, we live among determined, well-educated, and strongly motivated global competitors. We compete with them for international standing and for markets, not only with products and services but also with ideas.
The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development is undertaking comprehensive reform of the basic education curriculum. The goal of the new curriculum is to “enable every Kenyan to become an engaged, empowered and ethical citizen” by “nurturing every learner’s potential”. People’s intellectual, moral and spiritual strengths are the elements that knit together the very fabric of a society. It is, therefore, gratifying that the KICD has made the achievement of these ideals a strategic goal of the new curriculum.
For effective delivery of the new curriculum, however, it will also be inevitable that the system of education changes, signalling new policy directions. The KICD has proposed that basic education be organised in three levels: Early Years, Middle School and Senior School. At senior school, students will have greater flexibility and choices of educational programmes, having had the opportunity to explore their own potential, interests and personality at lower secondary. Students will be expected to specialise in a career path of their choice, selecting to pursue studies in one of the three pathways available in senior school: arts and sports science; social sciences and science; and technical engineering and mathematics.
These are far-reaching changes. Success will depend on the investments made in teacher training, development of new learning and teaching materials as well as the expansion and improvement of schools’ infrastructure. Furthermore, there may be need to create specialised schools in sports, the arts and Stem.
There seems to be general agreement across board that the proposed new curriculum will boost the quality of learning and will be good for Kenya’s success and competitiveness. To achieve the desired objectives however, the process of implementation must be all-inclusive. Furthermore, stakeholders' views should be taken seriously so that we can all pull in the same direction. Change management, therefore, becomes a vital skill for the change managers at the KICD and the Ministry of Education.
David Waweru is the chief executive of WordAlive Publishers.