Harmonize Basic Learning to Nurture All Children by Francis Njuguna

International day of education is celebrated on 24th January. The 2022 theme is “Changing Course, Transforming Education”. The International day of education 2022 is geared to spur conversations on how to strengthen education with a goal of achieving public and common good. International day of education 2022 also aims to create debates on digital transformation, supporting teachers, safeguarding the planet and unlocking potential in every person to contribute to collective wellbeing.

The idea of strengthening education to achieve public and common good takes my mind to a conversation I had with a Grade 1 teacher. This happened while conducting a field trial exercise on Early Language and Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (ELANA) by Zizi Afrique Foundation.

“I have been trained on delivery of the new competency based curriculum (CBC) by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development”, Started teacher Agnes*. “But there is a big problem with the children I received this year from Pre-Primary 2”. She continued. “These children have not acquired the requisite skills for learners joining Grade 1”.

“What is the problem?”.

“The major problem is management and reporting structures for pre-primary school teachers. Out of the 3 we have in this school, only one is serious with her work. The other 2 do not care and they are sometimes rude to us and to the head teacher. They say they were employed by the local member of the county assembly and are not under the authority of the head teacher. Also, according to the national Pre-primary Education Policy Standard Guidelines, all children are eligible for admission to Grade1 after their sixth birthday, or if their sixth birthday falls within the first term (January to March); and no interviews/examinations should be conducted for the purpose of admission to Grade 1;”

“This is serious.”

“I am now teaching the learners the basics they ought to have been taught in pre-primary 2.” Concluded teacher Agnes*.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Target 4.2 states that by 2030, all countries should “ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education”.

In the promulgated 2010 constitution, Kenya declared pre-primary education as compulsory and free for every child. Majority of children in the country therefore begin schooling in pre-primary where most of them are attached to public primary schools.

The new competency based curriculum education system follows a 2-6-3-3 model, with two years of pre-primary education, six years of primary education, three years of junior secondary education, and three years of upper secondary education. The first eight years of pre-primary and primary education is considered basic education. Pre-primary education consists of Pre-Primary One (PP1) and Pre-Primary Two (PP2). Pre-primary curriculum includes language, environment, creative arts, mathematics, psychomotor and religious education. These are the basic skills that learners ought to have mastered when joining primary school at Grade 1.

The Fourth Schedule of the 2010 Kenya Constitution assigns several functions to the county governments to perform. Devolved components in education are pre-primary education/Early Childhood Education (ECD), village polytechnics, home craft centres and childcare facilities. This in itself makes pre-primary schools’ managers feel they are only obligated to be answerable to their county bosses and not the primary schools’ heads in which their facilities are domiciled. With attitudes such as the one explained by teacher Agnes*, it’s the young children who will end up suffering by missing out on requisite skills.

Jean Piaget once observed, “Education for most people, means trying to lead the child to resemble the typical adult of his society… But for me, education means making creators… You have to make inventors, innovators, not conformists”.

For good change to happen, harmonious working relationships between pre-schools’ and primary schools’ teachers is important to know what a child’s education journey should look like based on their capabilities and potentials. These are issues that have really been ignored.

Writer- Francis Njuguna, is our Program Admin and Procurement Officer. For feedback, send an email to info@ziziafrique.org

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