Days after Tanzania opened discussions on improving its education curriculum, Kenya President William Ruto named a 49-member Working Party on Education that will gather views on, among other things, assess and recommend an appropriate structure to implement the competency based curriculum, whose first cohort is in Grade 6.
Tanzanian officials say the views gathered from the public will help make learning more practical to prepare students address current problems better.
And President Samia Suluhu’s administration wants the public to present suggestions to a team of experts reviewing the 2014 Education and Training Policy, which will then advise where to overhaul in the current curriculum.
Prof Adolf Mkenda, the Minister for Education, Science and Technology said on Sunday that the taskforce will address weaknesses in the 2014 curriculum for primary schools.
The 2014 Education and Training Policy was aimed to guide education provision from pre-primary to tertiary levels along with vocational, non-formal, and special education sectors but has not been implemented to change the current teaching curricula.
Since its adoption for implementation, there has been a concern among education stakeholders that the Policy does not meet the current demands of education and training in Tanzania to strengthen economic, social, scientific and technological transformation.
Access to opportunities
Research report by Policy Forum and HakiElimu, the two NGOs in Tanzania had quoted parents and education experts criticising the Education Policy for its inability to address access educational opportunities.
The current curriculum involves seven years of compulsory primary school education. However, after that, further education is voluntary, including four years in junior secondary and two years in senior secondary.
Experts will gather views to address the current needs of education, skills and training structure that would provide quality education and training recognised nationally, regionally and internationally, according to Prof Mkenda.
State dominance and centralisation rather than decentralisation in the provision of education was the other weakness of the current education system in Tanzania, Policy Forum report said.
Tanzania’s education curriculum includes at least three years in university. Children normally start school at the age of six years sit Ordinary Certificate of Secondary Education (O-Level) exams after seven years in primary school, sit for Advanced Level Certificate of Secondary Education (A-Level) exams after four years in secondary and study for two years in senior secondary before and University or higher learning education for three years.
President Suluhu admits the current education system does meet the needs of the labour market in Tanzania owing to its focus on theoretical learning as opposed to practicals.
She had earlier directed the government to make the curricula that would help to produce skilled labour.
Tanzania enrols about 1.4 million children to start standard one education in public or government schools every year under the government funding.
In his notice, President Ruto was following up on his pledge about reviewing the competency-based curriculum (CBC) that replaced 8-4-4.
The call came after complaints of ‘overload’ by parents even though some experts have defended the system as more engaging to children.
Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development director Prof Charles Ong’ondo said the CBC is focused on nurturing the unique talents and abilities of a learner as opposed to academics and scores in examinations.
“The competency-based approach to teaching and learning has been adopted in the region, extending to other countries in Africa and indeed globally,” said Prof Ong’ondo.
He noted that Uganda, Gambia, Tanzania, Rwanda have been benchmarking with Kenya on practices that could be contextualised in their own countries.
Dr Ruto said the review on the CBC will be in accordance with Unesco recommendations.
He noted that Kenya’s education system should move in the direction of not just knowledge and exams, but that of knowledge, skills, competencies and value based education. 8-44 system involved eight years in primary school and four years in secondary, both of which are compulsory. But learners could opt for university or tertiary. Critics charged that the system focused more on drilling learners for exams rather than preparing them for labour markets.
The Working Party on Education is led by former vice-chancellor of Moi University Prof Raphael Munavu and includes vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi Prof Gitahi Kiama.
The team, to last six months, will also give recommendations on teacher training, access to education and funding.