Even as the conversation on transforming Kenya’s Education System continues to gather momentum, with a keener eye on reviewing the recently-adopted Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), different minds have continued to brainstorm on what needs to be fixed on the entire education system.
To address this, the Educational Management Society of Kenya (EMSK) collaborated with Kisii University’s School of Education and Human Resource Development (SEDHURED) in holding the 8th Annual International Conference on October 7, 2022.
The event, held at Kisii University, sought to address the current and future education issues through the theme Reconstructing Education, Training and Research towards Resilience and Re-invention for Sustainable Development.
The International Conference linked researchers, lecturers, heads of departments, and students from various parts of the world to chart a promising path for the 21st-century student, make the education sector current and able to address the ever-changing job sector and solve the current educational problems.
The conference established that researchers have a role in establishing ways to counter the educational challenges commonplace in the society by applying well-formulated solutions and innovative approaches, especially to uplift Kenya’s education system.
Rev Dr. Eliud Nyakundi, the EMSK Chair, welcomed all members into the conference, underlining the main aim of EMSK: to encourage scholars to be actively involved in research and advocacy to induce substantive educational management, policy, and capacity building.
Dr. Yazidi Mwishwa from Tanzania’s Mbeya University of Science and Technology observed, “Our focus should be how to move from a problem by applying well-formulated solutions to tackle the ever-present problems.”
While launching the conference’s theme, Prof Henry Onderi, the Conference Organizing Committee Chairperson, noted, “Kenya’s education is engulfed by different challenges such as Covid-19 and other drawbacks. That justifies the need for universities to innovatively address such problems and provide solutions based on research and invention.”
He embraced President William Ruto’s move to establish a Task Force to scrutinize the education system at large, with a keener eye on CBC, and ensure that today’s youngsters are prepared for future jobs with relevance and timeliness.
Appreciating the opportuneness of the event, Kisii University Vice Chancellor, Prof John Akama, the Chief Guest, who was represented by Prof Evans Basweti, noted that globally, 262 m children are not attending school while 60% of those who do have not acquired the relevant skills required in the 21st-century job market.
“Education is necessary for development of education and human rights institutions. Without proper research, a proper curriculum cannot exist,” Prof Basweti reminded the delegates.
“Kenya has numerous researchers. There’s a need for a deeper cooperation in research and the use of research findings,” noted Mr. Raveenthiran Vivekanantharasa from the Open University of Sri Lanka in his goodwill speech.
“The conference provides a platform for researchers to share research findings and exchange ideas on the contemporary issues affecting education, and add to Kenya’s ongoing debate on CBC’s efficacy,” said Kabarak University’s Dr. Betty Tikoko in her goodwill address.
She implored the conferees on the issue of unemployment and how youngsters only believe in finding good jobs overseas.
She hoped the event would produce thinkers and innovators to address such issues.
Through keynote addresses, guest speaker addresses, and oral paper presentations done virtually and in person, the conferees demystified the need to act on today’s education system and approaches by teaching tomorrow’s skills to today’s students at all levels pragmatically.
In his keynote address on Teaching Tomorrow’s Skills Today: Unpacking Challenges for a Transformative Educational Enterprise, Prof Joseph Bosire, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) Academic Affairs, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST), noted that with the changing job market, “65% of current children will have jobs that do not exist now!”
A decade ago, for instance, Social Media Management was not an established job, and TikTok was not a source of money as today.
Regarding how education should equip learners for tomorrow’s jobs, Prof Bosire opines that teachers must be predictive and proactive in offering 21st-century skills.
“Tutors should impart long-lasting, adaptable skills fit for the diverse contexts. Tomorrow’s teachers need to embrace technology. That is why our curriculum and delivery method needs a second look,” the educationist explained.
Kenya’s government should therefore bridge the current technology gap.
“Therefore, beyond the talk-shows, what are we doing on the ground and what should we do to ensure that both teachers and learners gain the required skills at their levels,” asked Dr. Eric Wara, Principal of Moi Naikarra Secondary School in Narok County.
Prof Orpha Ongiti’s presentation on the BlueOcean Approach to Training University Graduates for the Dynamic Future is a pragmatic approach.
She’s the Dean of Post-graduate Studies and Director, Institute of Research at Africa Nazarene University.
Blue Ocean Concept seeks freshness by creating an uncontested marketplace, making the competition irrelevant, and stepping into new, inexistent industries.
“Migrating from the overcrowded Red Ocean where the lecturer is the sole source of information to future-oriented pedagogical approaches where learners are contributors too, stands paramount,” she observed.
This creates an environment of thinking students rather than teaching them what to think.
In his presentation, Dr. Erick Nyakundi of Kisii University championed the use of technology in workplaces and organizations.
“Technology has increased interaction and performance in organizations, promoting a cohesive workforce that meets its targets and goals,” read his abstract in part.
Are teachers well-equipped?
“The teachers, who are the implementers of CBC, are not fully prepared,” opined Dr. Benard Nyatuka of Kisii University.
In her Guest Speaker’s Address, Prof Elizabeth Abenga, Director of Pan-African University for Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences, Cameroon, talked about Re-constructing Teacher Education for Sustainable Development.
Basing her address on 2030’s United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Four, ensuring inclusive and equitable education and promoting lifelong opportunities for all, Prof Abenga championed Teacher Education in Kenya.
“Teacher Education makes teachers quality products and enables them deliver quality skills, efficient and effective in today’s era, to meet emerging needs and aspirations,” she advocated.
To ensure that the learners are not confined to country-specific skills, she said that Kenya’s teachers should be trained to offer skills worthy of handling international affairs.
“Practical lessons should be embraced more among teacher trainees in university to prepare them for the current Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC),” she advised, adding that Teacher Education should top the list of education reforms in Kenya.
The conference acknowledged that an academic overhaul and teacher-retraining seminars are the solutions to imparting 21st-century skills to teachers before they transfer the knowledge to the learners.
Instructors can be hired for demonstration if the teachers lack specific skills to demonstrate to the learners, such as swimming.
George Ontumbi and Charles Nyabero, in their research paper on the preparedness and implementation of CBC in Secondary Schools in Uasin Gishu County, conclude that Uasin Gishu County teachers are not fully trained to implement CBC. The few in-service forums have not exposed teachers to the important skills required to implement CBC.
The research suggests subjecting the teachers to in-service training to equip them with crucial competencies on CBC.
They urge the government to get more funding for additional CBC class construction.
Place of Research in Education
All issues raised about education and its sustainability and efficiency can be addressed through research, according to Prof George Muthaa, Deputy Principal Academic Affairs at Turkana University College.
Addressing the delegates, Prof Muthaa acknowledged that “Contemporary research and use of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) can cure the void currently available with Kenya’s Education System.”
Such knowledge would add to the available information on combating contemporary issues such as suicide and stress.
CBC’s Community Service Learning seeks to embrace more IKS eventually.
While urging EMSK to guard the education profession vibrantly, the scholars also exhorted researchers to be vocal in airing education issues.
“But how shall we teach all-knowing children who access everything through the internet?” you may ask.
“Student group discussions have allowed students to research more on contemporary issues using the internet. Teachers should welcome the incorporation of new online information,” Prof Joseph Bosire, DVCAcademic Affairs JOOUST, would reply.
Kisii University’s Dr George Areba, Dean, SEDHURED, presented a paper on Online Teaching Competencies for Effectively Higher Education Implementation, noting that 21st-century skills should be transversal, multifunctional and context-independent.
Skills in design, content creation, communication, and didactic approaches guide students into vital thought processes like critical thinking and problem-solving.
Online teaching, however, calls for more research, according to the don.
Commenting on the need for lecturers’ training on research, Prof Stephen Odebero, a lecturer at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), drew the conferees’ attention to train lecturers on research.
Training would equip them to edify students on multi-dimensional research approaches and qualify them for both Qualitative and Quantitative Research.
Simultaneously, tutors should clearly inform students of what they are looking for by giving them a sense of a marking scheme.
This is according to Kisii University’s lecturer, Dr. Everlyne Njurai’s paper on The What, Why, When and How of Assessment Rubrics in Higher Education.
Holistic, analytical, developmental, and generic rubrics are some of the approaches Dr. Njurai proposes.
To assess and improve learners’ daily learning, “Lecturers should develop, train colleagues, test and implement the rubrics and also give feedback to students on what was expected and what the students achieved,” said Dr. Njurai.
Interesting still is that parents contribute to children’s educational skills, specifically Entrepreneurial Education, viewed as competency in CBC.
Research by Rose Moindi, a don from Kisii University, concludes that “…both parents’ educational attainment and children’s birth order significantly influence acquisition of some entrepreneurial competencies among tertiary institution students.”
Parental sensitization and education are of the essence, according to Moindi.
However, the higher education system has not been without unjust lecturers who take advantage of students and unfairly award marks while withholding other students’ marks.
To burst this delicate bubble which has made many victims, the conference underscored the essence of having a regulatory body for lecturers for uniformity.
On behalf of the EMSK, Egerton University’s Prof Kuria Wamukuru, the Secretary-General of EMSK, commented on CBC.
“CBC is timely. The country requires a curriculum that will equip learners with innovative, practical skills to fit in the 21st century. This will help counter the current status where graduates cannot fit in the available chances, and neither can they make themselves relevant.
The biggest challenge with the current CBC is its implementation. All stakeholders should be adequately equipped to play their roles effectively,” he advised.
He said parents should not be given the fundamental role of a school teacher.
Noting the cumbersome costs of CBC on parents, which have contributed to inequity where pupils from poor backgrounds are disadvantaged, Prof Wamukuru also observed that CBC, as implanted, has not addressed the interest of learners with special needs and those with disabilities.
Assessment should also be authentic and realistic.
“Currently, the public secondary schools are not ready for a double intake of Junior Secondary School and regular Form One students in January 2023. The double intake as the first cohort of CBC joins Junior Secondary would bring more challenges than gains.
The available facilities, including classrooms and dormitories, are inadequate. Already, teacher shortage is a challenge, even without double intake. Furthermore, secondary school teachers are not adequately prepared to teach the CBC syllabus,” observed Prof.
He added that EMSK’s advice is for the Ministry of Education to go slow on the full implementation of CBC and have its pioneer group, currently in Grade Six, remain at the primary school level.
In otherworld, it would be more reasonable and cost-effective to domicile the Junior Secondary at the primary school level, considering the available resources.
“Universities should be adequately prepared to train the implementers and graduates to ensure CBC sustainability.
We appreciate the President of Kenya, Dr. William Ruto, for appointing a task force on education reform. We advise the task force to adopt a blended education system in the short term to accommodate the positive attributes of CBC within the current 8-4-4 system,” said Prof Wamukuru.
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