BY DERRICK VIKIRU
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) defines curriculum as the vehicle through which a country empowers its citizens with the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that enable them to be empowered for personal and national development. According to a report published by UNESCO titled The Why, What and How of Competency-Based Curriculum Reforms: The Kenyan Experience, KICD chose to adopt a Competency-Based Approach (CBA) for the new curriculum that was necessary in the Kenyan education system and was in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Kenya is a signatory to the United Nations’ SDGs that were unveiled in 2016. General education and specifically the curriculum that learners interact with plays a major role in helping Kenya achieve these goals by 2030. The curriculum reforms in Kenya provide particularly an excellent opportunity to align the education sector to the SDGs. Therefore, UNESCO is a major stakeholder in Kenya’s education reforms. UNESCO has been pivotal in the implementation of the new curriculum as it was involved in a series of trainings for educators on CBA through its International Bureau of Education (IBE-UNESCO).
Indeed, curriculum reforms in Kenya are not only based on the needs assessment but have a global reach and will play a key role in helping the country attain the SDGs, through the standardisation and harmonisation of the education system with global skill market requirements. Educators and the government are therefore paying increasing attention to international comparisons as they seek to develop effective policies to improve the performance of Kenya’s education system.
For instance, the United States set the world standard of excellence in the second half of the 20th century. It became the first country to pursue and achieve mass secondary education and higher education. Today, the US is the largest supplier of highly qualified people in adult labour force in the world. This stock of human capital has helped the United States become the dominant economy in the world and take advantage of globalisation and expansion of markets. This is the level of attainment that Kenya should seek with the new curriculum. Kenya should thus devote resources and manpower in ensuring Competency-Based Education is a success.
Countries like Finland, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, and South Korea have also done major investments in education, churning out skills that are cutting edge in the global market. The world is catching up and nations are preparing their scholars to attain global competitiveness. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), South Korea has illustrated the pace of progress that cannot be ignored. Today, South Korea is the world’s top performer in secondary school graduation rates, with 93 per cent of an age cohort obtaining a high school degree, compared with 77 per cent in the United States.
Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from international comparisons is that strong performance and improvement are possible. It is not a question of money (or lack thereof) but governments’ dedication to offering nothing but quality education to its population.
Derrick Vikiru is the Sub-Editor, Management Magazine. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org