In a dynamic globalised, interconnected world with increasing manifestations of solidarity and intolerance, food insecurity, violent extremism, terrorism and corruption, it has become critical that education systems nurture learners to address these challenges.
Such an education system should instil respect for human rights — including inclusion, gender equality, social justice and diversity — giving learners the competencies and opportunity to learn to live together and realise their rights and obligations.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed a strong will to end corruption and other malpractices. That can be achieved through law enforcement, public education and ethics and integrity.
Sessional Paper No. 8 of 2013 on national values and principles of governance has identified education (specifically curriculum) as one of the primary champions of values and responsible citizenship. Citizenship education is the ideal forum for addressing graft.
Kenya’s curriculum reform is geared towards a competency-based curriculum (CBC), whose ultimate goals is to nurture learners to become responsible, productive and active citizens. Citizenship is one of the seven core competencies in the Basic Education Curriculum Framework (BECF), the backbone of the new system.
A good curriculum should uphold not only competency but character; a person who not only knows that something is bad but appreciates and practises that which is right.
Education is more than literacy and numeracy. Education systems are challenged to develop and implement a curriculum that nurtures children to grow up as responsible citizens.
Learning to read, write and count (cognitive skills) are not enough; learners need to also acquire socio-emotional (or soft) skills.
The role of education goes beyond socio-economic and political development. It should play a key role in addressing challenges such as crises and conflicts, drug and substance abuse, violence, corruption and environmental changes.
David Blunkett, former British Home Secretary and also Secretary of State for Education and Employment, said: “It is essential that we do more to help young people to develop a full understanding of their roles and responsibilities as citizens in a modern democracy and equip them better to deal with the difficult moral and social questions that arise in their lives and in society.”
Citizenship is core in the curriculum. At the Early Years level, it is a key component of environmental activity learning area.
It is compulsory at the Middle School as one of the components of social studies, and at the Senior School, where it is a stand-alone learning area as history and citizenship, though optional for those in the social sciences pathway.
The best citizenship learning occurs when what is taught enables students to have an impact on the wider community and is reinforced by the culture of the school through the key community service learning. Citizenship is one of six components of the curriculum.
Citizenship education emphasises the need to develop citizens of high morals and integrity with the desired knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary for a more just, peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable society.
This will enhance and nurture a deeper and better approach in human development and guarantee prosperity and high quality of life for all in a secure and clean environment, besides peace and security.
All learning can be made contextually relevant for every learner’s holistic growth and development to become independent, confident, cooperative and inspired and focused to apply their learning to constructive contributions.
Citizenship education is one approach to address corruption and the curriculum provides a channel to promote integrity. Also, learners spend most of their formative years in school.
The new curriculum will aid the delivery of an education that will help to build learners’ resilience to corruption and mitigate the drivers of the phenomenon by nurturing and empowering the learner with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values which foster responsible citizenship and ability to take action against corruption.
Ms Nyaga is the officer in charge of History & Government, Basic Education Division — Humanities Section, at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD). [email protected]