Some clever person once said a country that mistreats its children will reap their wrath in future. Considering we stood on the edge of the cliff and gazed at the abyss below following a very competitive poll; that statement seems very appropriate. In the deadly Post-election violence (PEV) of 2008 it was our young people who the demons chose to possess.
It’s for these reasons that we must take the debate on curriculum reforms very seriously. We need to produce young people whose minds are not so idle that demons congregate for a weekly workshop. Otherwise replacing a failed system with another one that hardly deals with the challenges of our time will only lead to a terrible outcome.
In the recently released KCSE results 545,700 students failed to make the cut for university entry. The President in his New Year message advised them to join the technical training colleges. The President’s message was meant to encourage especially after reports of children feeling hopeless and others committing suicide.
However, if analyzed further, that advice, subtly reveals the problem with our education system. What the stakeholders miss in their consultative forums about our system is the capitalistic nature of our education. Which sadly, even the much publicized education reforms does not identify, let alone tackle.
The vision of the new curriculum that is being rolled is, a desire to see an engaged, empowered and ethical citizen. This are good ideals yet impractical if we insist on curving ‘pathways’ for children while we have institutionalized failure by virtue of which institution of higher learning one attends.
It’s very possible that there are ‘A’ or ‘B’ students whose only interest is to work as a Plumber or Carpenter-building and fixing things but we’ve since relegated such jobs to school drop-outs that everyone wants a Bachelor degree-even those that can’t properly challenge themselves to be useful citizens after graduation.
This is why the debate on the new curriculum should’ve also figured how to change attitudes in children as they learn along the way to realize the goal for life is not acquiring a university degree. But this won’t happen if we see technical colleges as secondary to bachelor degrees. Developed countries like the US and Germany as critics of the new curriculum keep pointing out, know this only too well and some of the top students fight for a place in technical colleges because it’s not seen as the other option-in the event you don’t make the cut for university entry.
If the 8.4.4 system was to bring about self-reliance the new curriculum in many ways appears to completely claw back such gains if at all. Meaning we are likely to have a generation of kids who can only do certain things courtesy of their ‘gifts’ or ‘potential’. This is what 8.4.4 was expected to cure, how then are we going back without exhaustive consultations?