The Ministry of Education and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in partnership with technical advisor Educate! have completed a Community Service Learning Program across 65 secondary schools in 10 counties, with the aim of learning how best to develop the new learning area for the CBC curriculum at the secondary level.
“The Community Service Learning we have been testing applies concepts students have learned in the classroom to real-life situations and enhances entrepreneurship, social awareness, and responsibility,” said Dr. Julius Jwan, Director and CEO at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.
The program follows global research into community service learning that has shown it delivers a rapid and significant change in students’ attitudes and skills.
According to a study of 1,500 US students published in the Michigan Journal of Community Learning, the learning area changes students’ personal values within just six months, significantly raising the chances of students entering careers that help others, and raising their levels of volunteering and community leadership.
It has also been shown to increase students’ belief in their ability to solve community problems and their sense of connection with the community.
“We have, furthermore, run the Kenyan program under the theme of ‘Igniting the High School Social Entrepreneur’ to equip students to create livelihoods while also solving local problems,” said Diana Mwai, Educate!’s Kenya Program Director.
This emphasis reflects the KICD’s commitment to achieving a more relevant curriculum that will address the issue of high youth unemployment, which was running at 26.2 per cent in 2017, according to the United Nations Development Programme.
Educate!, which aims to impact 1 million students across Africa, has advised on curriculum reforms and run similar programmes in Rwanda and Uganda. These were found to nearly double the earning power of participants, increase the use of learner-centered teaching methods, and deliver a greater focus on community issues.
The program has already transformed the lives of Kenyan learners too, both through
community engagement and through the entrepreneurial skills gained.
Kwirenyi Secondary School in Kakamega County wanted to improve community health, so it taught community members how to treat water and keep it safe for drinking, whilst also running a sensitization campaign on preventing malaria and cholera.
The program has also taught learners how to connect the knowledge they are gaining from other learning areas to their entrepreneurial ventures. Students from Agoro Sare school from
Homabay County applied what they learned in chemistry and biology to create a bio-gas
business, using kitchen waste and cow dung from the school herd to create bio-gas fuel. The business intends to provide the school with a source of low-cost and sustainable fuel. Likewise, students from Mbitini Girls Secondary School in Kitui County started a rabbit project after learning about diabetes in class. The business aims to sell and promote the consumption of white meat in the community.
In addition to benefiting learners, a key goal of the program is to produce research to be used by curriculum developers. Professor of Teacher Education at Moi University, Dr. Charles Ong’ondo, has led the 18-month, qualitative research project, in collaboration with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development and MOE. The research team conducted three rounds of research, beginning with a needs assessment before the program began.
The research team is now in the process of collecting final data, which will lead to a summative research report. The research will be shared with national stakeholders at KICD’s curriculum conference in August and will inform how to best design this new learning area, as KICD prepares for the development of the secondary curriculum.
“Our aim is to deliver powerful skill sets that prepare students for individual success and to tackle youth unemployment,” said Diana, in targets that tie with Kenya’s Vision 2030, which places emphasis on the link between education and the labor market.
The results of the Community Service Learning programme have been exhibited by participating schools for assessment by the Ministry of Education (MOE), Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC). The exhibitions were held on June 29 th and 30 th in Taita Taveta, Kitui, Garissa, Homabay and Kisii counties. Schools in Nairobi, Kakamega, Uasin Gichu, Kiambu and Embu counties held their exhibitions on Saturday July 6 th , closing the first phase of the Community Service Learning program.