What you need to know:
The curriculum adopts the 126.96.36.199 system of education.
The curriculum identifies core competencies that learners should develop.
Implementation must now pay attention to the quality of teachers, teaching and learning.
The government must also be willing to spend even further on education.
The new curriculum is scheduled for full implementation in January 2018.
There was need to align the curriculum to the 2010 Constitution, Vision 2030, the East African Community Curriculum Harmonisation Structures and Framework, as well as other policy documents that express the aspirations of the country. 8.4.4 had also been criticised for being examination oriented with a lot of content overload.
The discussion on whether it is the 8.4.4 system which was the problem or it was a failure of implementation should not escape us, though.
What does the new curriculum entail?
The curriculum adopts the 188.8.131.52 system of education. In an attempt to address some of the shortcomings blamed on 8.4.4, the curriculum aims to develop every learner’s potential with the focus on an engaged, empowered and ethical citizen. The new curriculum, therefore, pays attention to the development of skills as well as requisite attitudes and values.
The curriculum has introduced clearly defined parental roles in a child’s learning. It also pays attention to the idea of differentiated curriculum and learning, thus building on the principle of learner differences. This will ensure that the curriculum content and instructional approaches are appropriate for each learner.
The curriculum identifies core competencies that learners should develop. This feeds into the ‘competency based curriculum’. Competency is the ability to apply appropriate knowledge and skills to successfully perform a function. To this end, the curriculum attempts to develop learners capable of performing certain functions.
Among the key competencies identified by the curriculum are: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
The competencies are not simply identified but are infused in the choice of learning experiences suggested to the teacher.
For example, to help develop communication and collaboration, learning experiences would include learners working together in pairs or groups to accomplish given tasks.
It is worth noting that the curriculum identifies contemporary issues which learners will be exposed to. A number of emerging issues are also identified in different learning areas and teachers are guided on how to deal with them. The issues include HIV/AIDS and terrorism. The necessary attitudes and values are expected to be inculcated succinctly through choice of learning activities and stories.
On paper, the curriculum seems well intentioned. But we have several well-written curricula all over the world with not so good results.
The teachers as the implementers are key. They must figure out how to adopt or adapt policymakers’ recommendations in the classroom.
Full attention must therefore be paid to this area. It is worth noting that for the first time in the Kenyan curriculum making process, there has been extensive teacher involvement from all the counties in Kenya. The number of those involved is however minimal compared to the teacher population.
Implementation must now pay attention to the quality of teachers, teaching and learning. One way is continuous professional development programmes for teachers.
There is also need for curriculum changes to teacher education programmes for teacher training colleges to capture the spirit of the reforms.
With minimal professional development and full implementation being rolled out in January, one may be justified in worrying.
There is also need to check the quality of textbooks for effective implementation.
With the pronouncement on ‘single textbook policy,’ whichever text is selected must be the best to realise the spirit of the reforms.
The government must also be willing to spend even further on education. More importantly, this expense must be sustained. Each stakeholder must play their part appropriately. Quality assurance must ensure the curriculum does not slide back to focus more on exams at the expense of quality learning and teaching. These actions will ensure that the good intentions are not lost.
Dr Teresa Okoth-Oluoch is a curriculum expert and lecturer at Masinde Muliro University’s department of Curriculum and Instructional Technology. [email protected]