College/university students also need to reap from Kenya’s new curriculum

School boys of Upper Hill Nairobi.

Every parent desires that their child will receive the best education that will guarantee them a better and brighter future.

Kenya has unveiled a new curriculum ( 2-6-3-3-3 system), organised into three levels: early years education, middle school education and senior school. It has replaced the 8-4-4 system of education, which has been in existence for 32 years

Many parents viewed 8-4-4 as a system that pressures students to score high grades yet paying little attention to other life skills that would help them cope with life changes as they grow.

“The formative years are most critical to a child’s development. This is critical in the learning process too. A good education at this stage, therefore, will benefit learners even at the higher levels of learning,” says Dr Joan Gathungu, a lecturer at Kenya Utalii College.

Gathungu is also the founder of the Kids Learning Hub. The Hub combines traditional Montessori learning tools and modern technology-based and an approach seeking to educate young learners through life’s practical situations.

She believes that innovation is not just confined to the science congress but it’s an everyday thing which ultimately prepares the child for problem-solving effortlessly.

Gathungu says the new approach in the curriculum and by Kids Learning Hub offers a chance at continuous improvement and builds on the current successes.

“Graduates from Kenya, for example, are equipped with the right knowledge and skills. However, skill needs constant sharpening while knowledge is cumulative but dynamic,” she says.

“Our students are definitely some of the best in the region and globally. Wherever you go, you will find them excelling in different fields. In this regard, the educational system must also provide a world-class education. Our graduates can succeed but the new approach would open them up to even greater successes.”

Ivy Wangusi, a Law student at Moi University feels research should begin right from secondary level if the curriculum must be shifted.

“Graduates don’t necessarily come out with the skills required. Most of them get through campus with the help of ‘mwakenyas’ or other cheating mechanisms which they use to pass exams,” says Wangusi.

“On the other hand, most students in universities opt for courses that they are not really interested in hence end up unproductive in society. I feel that attachments should be done after the first year of study so that those who have no interest in the course they are pursuing get a chance to change it before they progress further ahead. Another attachment could be done later once the student has progressed further in their studies.”

Her sentiments are echoed by Jacqueline Akinyi, a graduate of the University of Nairobi.

“Universities have done very little in as far as encouraging creativity and innovation is concerned and that is why we have very few inventors in Kenya,” says Akinyi.

“In this era of “ask Mr.Google” there is a lot of plagiarism witnessed within the universities. Students have become too lazy such that all they do is copy paste previously done works instead of researching for their own material and publish their own works. At the end of their studies, they graduate but cannot remember what they were taught in the lecture halls hence do not put into practice what they studied hence no innovation.”

According to Gathungu, who lectures in Career Development, Kids Learning Hub will also benefit institutions of higher learning in a number of ways.

“It will ignite a research culture since the approach is research oriented. Students will be introduced to research in a subtle and friendly way which will prepare them for the rigours of research at higher levels of learning,” she says, adding that the system will help identify gifted children, which was not possible in the 8-4-4 curriculum.

“A case in point is one of eight-year-old Baraka, a seemingly gifted child whom I got a chance to interact with. Baraka has faced multiple challenges with his teachers due to his inquisitive and restless nature. He is more of a practical child. His mother upon discussing with the teachers about her child’s nature saw his grades shoot from 370 to 430 when he was allowed to concentrate on design and artwork during his classes. Often, these children are mislabeled as rebellious or indisciplined.”

Stimulating innovation and creativity in the young learners will be beneficial to learners who are curious, practical and creative for the following reasons:

  • It will benefit institutions of higher learning since a foundation has already been laid.
  • It will spearhead independence in the learner which will form liberal and critical minds ready for the complex global realities.
  • It will spell out clearly defined talents leading to institutions of higher learning to develop training hubs for training educationists at the varied levels and knowledge of desired career path.

“Many students don’t know what course they want to pursue even after they sit for their national secondary examination. The university student is pursuing a degree because that is what was available or it can offer a higher salary. It is important for a student to take up a career of choice- a choice that is well informed. The careers corner and expertise by the Hub promote this approach,” says Gathungu.

 

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