To know or to do?
This has been the age-old tussle in the world of academia. The world today has necessitated a change in the way education is organized and delivered and Kenya is actively in the process of changing the way it delivers its education. The relatively new Kenyan Competency Based Curriculum (KCBC) is focused on learners’ ability ‘to do’ – a shift from knowledge consumption and rote memorization in the outgoing system.
KCBC has highlighted seven key competencies which it deems as crucial for all learners at the basic education level to acquire. The question then is what is the role of the traditional subjects as we know them? Kenyans are used to a system where the point behind going to school is to study subjects but then KCBC comes along and says that the point behind going to school is to acquire the seven competencies.
So, what is the role of subjects in the new curriculum dispensation? Subjects, now referred to as Learning Areas, are still very much in existence and remain the main points of interaction between teachers and students. However, the role of subjects now is to act as conduits for the development and acquisition of the desired competencies. The knowledge is as crucial as ever and the development of cognitive skills remains important but subjects are also organised as opportunities for the development of competencies and addressing of contemporary issues and other contextual learning areas.
KCBC also argues for a differentiated curriculum for each learner. This means that teachers and schools must be conscious of the needs of their learners in their respective environments and must be able to tailor their delivery of learning to those specific needs.
This shift in the way the curriculum is organised and delivered in Kenya means that teachers must take steps to improve their skills and to have a much broader conception of what teaching, learning and education in general is. Teachers must reconsider their teaching methodologies, approaches to assessment and curriculum interpretation mindsets. I repeat that the ‘traditional’ role of a subject, as a knowledge delivery medium is crucial and as such, teachers must still remain as content experts in their subject areas and disciplines. The important thing though is to understand that Learning Areas are much more than things to memorise.
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