Chaplaincy holds the key to success of new curriculum
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