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Syllabus planners learn from new community study

KICD digests findings from a Community Service Learning project in 65 schools as it developes the CBC curriculum for secondary level

George Kebaso and Irene Mwambura @PeopleDailyKe

The first round of a research project to help  the government determine how to expand the new Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) to secondary learners has posted impressive results.

The 18-month Community Service Learning Programme conducted in 65 secondary schools in 10 counties saw students from some institutions develop money-making projects. 

Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) Chief Executive Officer, Julius Jwan says they conducted the survey jointly with the Ministry of Education and Educate!, a non-govermental organisation.  It aims at understanding how best to develop the new learning area for the CBC curriculum at secondary level.

“The Community Service Learning we have been testing applies concepts students have learnt in the classroom to real-life situations and enhances entrepreneurship, social awareness and responsibility,” said Jwan.

In Kakamega county, the Kwirenyi Secondary School wanted to improve community health, so the school taught community members how to treat water and keep it safe for drinking, whilst also running a sensitisation campaigns on preventing malaria and cholera.

Biogas fuel

The project has also taught learners how to connect the knowledge they are gaining from other learning areas to their entrepreneurial ventures. In Homa Bay county, preliminary results from the survey showed that students from Agoro Sare school applied what they learned in chemistry and biology to create a biogas business, using kitchen waste and cow dung from the school herd to create biogas fuel.

“The business intends to provide the school with a source of low-cost and sustainable fuel,” Jwan said.

Likewise, students from Mbitini Girls Secondary School in Kitui county started a rabbit project after learning about diabetes in class. The business aims to sell and promote the consumption of white meat in the community.

The programme follows global research into community service learning that has shown it delivers a rapid and significant change in students’ attitudes and skills.

According to a study of 1,500 US students published in the Michigan Journal of Community Learning, the learning area changes students’ personal values within just six months. This significantly raises the chances of students entering careers that help others, and raising their levels of volunteering and community leadership.

It has also been shown to increase students’ belief in their ability to solve community problems and their sense of connection with the community.

“We have run the Kenyan programme under the theme of ‘Igniting the High School Social Entrepreneur’ to equip students to create livelihoods while also solving local problems,” said Diana Mwai, Educate!’s Kenya Programme Director.

Educate! which seeks to impact one million students across Africa, has advised on curriculum reforms and run similar programmes  in Rwanda and Uganda. These were found to nearly double the learning power of participants, increase the use of student-centred teaching methods, and deliver a greater focus on community issues.

Educate! is a non-governmental organisation that tackles youth unemployment by partnering with schools and governments to reform what schools teach and how they teach it, so that students in Africa have the skills to start businesses, get jobs and drive development in their communities.

The programme has already transformed the lives of Kenyan learners involved too, both through community engagement and through the entrepreneurial skills gained. A key goal of the programme is to produce research to be used by curriculum developers.

Stakeholders forum

Professor of Teacher Education at Moi University, Dr Charles Ong’ondo, has led the 18-month, qualitative research project, in collaboration with the KICD and the Education ministry.

The research team conducted three rounds of research, beginning with a needs assessment before the programme began. The research team is now in the process of collecting final data, which will lead to a summative research report.

The research will be shared with national stakeholders at KICD’s curriculum conference in August and will inform how to best design this new learning area, as KICD prepares for the development of a new secondary curriculum. “We aim to deliver powerful skill sets that prepare students for individual success and to tackle youth unemployment,” said Diana.

Participating schools for assessment by the Ministry of Education (MOE), Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) have exhibited the results of the Community Service Learning programme in Taita Taveta, Kitui, Garissa, Homa Bay and Kisii counties.

This comes as Education Cabinet Secretary, Prof George Magoha urges a taskforce appointed to drive transition to CBC to consider sharing early findings of their research with KICD and the Ministry of Education before presenting a summative report during the August stakeholders’s forum. 

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