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Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development

Out With the Old! Support Enhances Stakeholder Participation in Education Reforms

Fred Matiangi

Education Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiangi, presides over the launch of the basic education curriculum framework in January 2017.

1985 was a milestone year for the education sector in Kenya. A new education curriculum, the 8-4-4 System, which proposed eight years in primary school, four in secondary school and four in university was adopted. Kenya was on a new path to progress.

Three decades later, 8-4-4 had outlived its usefulness. The system is now considered deficient and largely unresponsive to rapidly changing environments and emerging 21st century needs. Critics have faulted the curriculum for excessive emphasis on content, schooling and teaching over competencies, education and learning; for focus on summative over formative assessment; for being rigid and prescriptive; and for churning out ill-prepared graduates into the job market.

A new, flexible education curriculum was required: one that would minimize waste; enhance enrollment, retention and transition; achieve a balanced and relevant workforce; and embrace 21st century learning skills and approaches.

"I switched my children to an international curriculum because 8-4-4 seems to be more about cramming information and exams than about critical thinking and learning. I wanted a more balanced environment for them to excel in a well-rounded way," says Ms. Naliaka, a mother of two from Nairobi County.

"In Kenya, the current curriculum reforms are driven by the need to develop an engaged, empowered, and ethical citizen who can contribute to the development of a stable society," says Dr. Julius Jwan, Director, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development. It will also fulfill the aims of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, Vision 2030, and sustainable development goal four, he adds.

To implement the education curriculum reforms, the Ministry of Education (MoE) established a committee to develop a framework on curriculum reforms and create consensus on it through extensive consultation with stakeholders. However, the committee lacked the resources for conducting stakeholder engagement.

In 2015, SUNY/CID's Agile and Harmonized Assistance for Devolved Institutions (AHADI),USAID’s flagship governance activity program, supported the committee to hold a series of consultative meetings with a broad range of education sector stakeholders. These included county government education officials, trade unions, the Editors’ Guild, civil society organizations, religious groups, representatives of local universities and university colleges, and special needs education stakeholders.

As a result, the proposed Basic Education Curriculum Framework was publicly launched in January 2017 as a first step in rolling implementing education sector reforms.

"The proposed curriculum will not leave any child behind. The reforms seeks to develop learners' abilities and talents, establish a competency-based curriculum, enhance teaching approaches, and create an enabling environment for learning," said Ms. Jane Mbugua - Assistant Director of Education, Directorate of Policy, Partnerships and East Africa Affairs.

"I have read the proposals in the new curriculum and I think this might be the game-changer that will make schooling relevant and enjoyable for our children," says Naliaka.

Following the launch of the framework, MoE will complete the consultation process with other key stakeholders and has already announced plans to pilot the new curriculum in May 2017.

The purpose of the USAID-funded AHADI project is to help Kenya achieve the promise of devolution through a governance system that is more transparent, accountable, effective in service delivery, and responsive to empowered citizens.

See more of SUNY/CID's work in Kenya

Posted June 26, 2017