For decades we have worked with a curriculum that is highly content- based and one that focuses its success metric on a student’s ability to retain knowledge rather than fully understand it and apply it in real life settings. It is an exam based curriculum that has seen learners memorise for exams but can hardly apply what has been learnt.
All this is about to change with the proposed new education curriculum where learners are required to apply the knowledge they have learnt in class. It has proposed a large component of continuous assessment to move away from the current terminal examinations.
As the word suggests, terminal examinations are seen as a matter of life or death. They are used as the ultimate measure of success for students, which should not be the case. The proposed system is in line with 21st Century skills and will promote collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity.
It will empower learners to become a part of the learning process in a way that makes it an intrinsic process.The role of the teacher will also move towards that of a facilitator rather than a source of all knowledge and its success will depend on how well learners and teachers embrace these new roles.
I see the proposal as a very positive step for the Kenyan education system and will bring us much closer towards creating a labour force ready for applied tertiary learning and the future world of work. This is what the M-Pesa Foundation Academy has strived to do since we admitted the first cohort of students in 2016.
Beyond preparing students to excel in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams, we have redesigned subjects taught so that they are delivered in diverse and excitable ways.
We have equipped the students with skills and knowledge to seamlessly enter tertiary education or embark on their careers or their own business ventures. In turn our students are empowered and enjoy learning in all its elements. It is no wonder then that we are seeing our students become more innovative, and fully engaging in their extra curricula activities such as entrepreneurship, sports, arts, music and community service.
This is what I foresee the proposed new system of education bringing to all the Kenyan learners. However, for it to be a success, we must prepare our teachers and learners for an effective transition. Many of our teachers are currently used to teaching in a very didactic way which does not complement the new competency based curriculum.
Consequently, teachers- both existing and new- need to be trained in student centred approaches to classroom management and how to carry out the new assessments which are core to the success of the new curriculum. Depending on how the different pathways are developed, we may also need extra resources, particularly within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Pathway.
I urge that as a country, we embrace the proposed curriculum as is, support our teachers and school administrators with timely and in depth training in addition to trusting educators to be the professionals they are meant to be in society.
Stephen Walker, Director of Teaching and Learning, M-Pesa Foundation Academy.