Chap­laincy holds the key to suc­cess of new cur­ricu­lum

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - WEEKEND - BY PAUL NG’ENO

Iam the prod­uct of the 8-4-4 sys­tem of ed­u­ca­tion. I have also been teach­ing in high school for the last 7 years. Through­out these years, I have noted a com­po­nent of the 8-4-4 cur­ricu­lum that has re­ceived the least at­ten­tion.

This is the life-skills ed­u­ca­tion. It is treated more as a co-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­ity than a part of core-cur­ricu­lum. Yet sub­stan­tial text­books on es­sen­tial life skills have been pro­duced for all classes (Forms 1-4). Ac­cord­ing to Unicef, life skills re­fer to a large group of psy­cho-so­cial and in­ter­per­sonal skills which can help peo­ple make in­formed de­ci­sions, com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively, and de­velop cop­ing and self-man­age­ment skills that may help them lead a healthy and pro­duc­tive life.

Life skills ed­u­ca­tion is, there­fore, the study of skills that en­able us deal ef­fec­tively with the chal­lenges and de­mands of ev­ery­day life. It in­volves skills of know­ing and living with one­self to skills of know­ing and living with oth­ers to skills of de­ci­sion­mak­ing. Life skills ed­u­ca­tion is, there­fore, value-based.

As the re­formed cur­ricu­lum is be­ing rolled out in the coun­try, it is hoped that life skills ed­u­ca­tion will take cen­tre-stage. The pro­posed in­sti­tu­tional chap­laincy by the min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion in all the ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions could not have come at a bet­ter time. Cen­tral to the role of the chap­lains is to de­velop, nur­ture and pro­mote pos­i­tive and spir­i­tual val­ues amongst learn­ers, teach­ers, par­ents, and non-teach­ing staff.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2017/18 Global Ed­u­ca­tion Mon­i­tor­ing Re­port, for high-qual­ity in­struc­tion by teach­ers, coun­tries are em­pha­siz­ing cross-cur­ric­u­lar skills as well as so­cial, be­havioural and emo­tional com­pe­ten­cies such as in­ter­per­sonal un­der­stand­ing, crit­i­cal think­ing, em­pa­thy, team­work, per­se­ver­ance, in­ter­per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tion and self-dis­ci­pline.

The re­port, ti­tled ‘Ac­count­abil­ity in ed­u­ca­tion: Meet­ing our com­mit­ments,’ states that such skills and com­pe­ten­cies can be em­bed­ded in ex­ist­ing sub­jects or of­fered as stand­alone cour­ses. Such cour­ses should aim at teach­ing no­tions of be­long­ing not just to one’s own coun­try but also to a broader global com­mu­nity.

“How­ever, text­books in many coun­tries fail to deal com­pre­hen­sively, clearly and fairly with con­cepts that are cru­cial for so­cial co­he­sion and po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, in­clud­ing peace and non-vi­o­lence,” the re­port says.

Iron­i­cally, in Kenya, while life skills is a stand-alone course with proper text­books, very few in­sti­tu­tions care to make use of the good val­ues so ex­pressed in them. As the re­port states, chil­dren take more re­spon­si­bil­ity of their be­hav­iour in ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion and the safety of their learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment as they get older. They there­fore need proper train­ing and for­ma­tion in the right life val­ues. Dis­ci­plinary strate­gies such as sus­pen­sion have not suc­ceeded in de­ter­ring stu­dents from im­proper and vi­o­lent be­hav­iour. Good for­ma­tion does.

If the new cur­ricu­lum is to be grounded well as com­pe­tency-based, em­pha­sis should be placed on skills and value ed­u­ca­tion. I chal­lenge in­sti­tu­tional chap­lains and, in­deed, all ed­u­ca­tion stake­hold­ers, par­ents in­cluded, to take, as a mat­ter of pri­or­ity, life skills ed­u­ca­tion within the school com­mu­ni­ties.

Chap­laincy in schools holds the key to dis­ci­pline and good be­hav­iour.

Rev. Fr. Paul Ng’eno teaches at Olchekut Su­pat Apos­tolic School in Le­mek, Narok County

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