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Kenyan Don wants new education system

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 14 – An education expert on Monday asked the government to review the 8-4-4 system of learning saying that it was no longer useful.

Speaking during the launch of a National Assessment in Literacy and Numeracy Initiative, Prof Daniel Sifuna of Kenyatta University said the system that was put in place 25 years ago, needed to be reviewed to cater for the needs and expectations of an ever changing society.

“The educational system we get must be functional literacy; in the sense that it’s not just literacy for its own sake but that which can be utilised,” Prof Sifuna said. “When do you use the mathematical formulas that you learnt in ordinary life?”

“We must change that curriculum; find out what in every subject can be applied in day to day life. It is not just a question of being able to read and write. Can we use the education that we got?” quipped prof Sifuna.

He blamed the government for mismanaging the country’s resources terming it the key factor ruining the education system and added that the country had enough resources to develop a vibrant and useful education sector.  

The don explained that Kenya should not depend on donor funding to finance its provision of basic human services like education.

“Why should we depend on donor aid? We are conditioned to believe that we must ask for donor funds. That is why sometimes the donors don’t want to give it. We might get the aid but it is diverted into completely different directions,” he said.

“Kenya is a very rich country and can sustain itself if it collected taxes and used the revenue collected appropriately; but you find a minister with ten cars. What do you do with ten cars?” he posed.

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Prof Sifuna also wondered why the education system did not encourage Kenyan students to explore self employment strategies.

“We keep telling our students to study so that they can be employed. Why can’t we encourage them to sustain themselves through self employment?” he asked.

The research initiative would see the Ministry of Education, Kenya National Examination Council and Uwezo Kenya to jointly cover 72 districts at a cost of Sh50 million in the pilot phase.

Sara Ruto, the country coordinator for the research programme working with Uwezo Kenya, said: “The purpose of this assessment is to encourage the provision of quality education.”

“It will be conducted like the census, where our enumerators will visit 600 households in each of the 72 districts,” she observed.

“The focus will be on children aged between the ages of six and 16, because we want to find out if the current education system places any valuable material in them.”

Mrs Ruto added that the study would help establish the connection between development and education adding that it would be national and house-hold based, scheduled to kick off on October 5.

Francis Kyalo, Deputy Secretary of Research with the Kenya National Examinations Council supported Mrs Ruto’s remarks noting that the research findings would help make policy recommendations and design interventions to improve all aspects of education.

“The findings will also help ensure that recognised and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by everyone at all educational levels,” he promised.

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“I believe that we will be able to generate innovative and insightful educational research information, to be used by decision makers to plan and improve our education sector.”

Mr Kyalo blamed the rising cases of examination cheating on societal and educational pressures which he said were the main reason behind students’ lack of honesty and transparency during examination periods.

“We cannot just blame the education system; we as the parents and as the society are also to blame,” he added.

“As a student your parents want you to perform well, your relatives expect the same of you. All these external pressures drive our students to cheating their examinations.” “We ought to change not just our educational system but the society as well.”


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