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Teachers trained to impart knowledge relevant to the 21st century challenge

About 9,595 teachers are undergoing a training course on the expectations of the ongoing school curriculum reforms that emphasise making learners acquire competencies to fit in the 21st century work environment.

The Coordinator of Special Programmes and Student Learning at the Centre for Mathematics, Science, and Technology, Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) that is facilitating the courses, Ms. Beatrice Macharia, said the programme being conducted during the April holidays targets Junior Secondary School teachers from 47 counties assigned to teach Pre-Technical Studies, Agriculture and Nutrition.

The trainings are being held in Nakuru, Machakos, and Kisumu counties.

Ms. Macharia explained that the teachers were being taken through the tenets of Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) where students gain knowledge by questioning and investigating information received from their teachers as opposed to imbibing established facts unchallenged, as has been the vogue in the past.

“The method places students’ questions, ideas, and observations at the centre of the learning experience to enhance the teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and inspire learners to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-related disciplines key to helping the country achieve Vision 2030,” she said.

While disclosing that CEMASTEA had in December last year trained 7,380 teachers of Mathematics and Integrated science on pedagogical content knowledge, the coordinator said IBL enabled learners to be engaged in authentic investigations in which they identify problems, ask questions, propose solutions, make predictions, design procedures, collect and organise data, and draw conclusions.

Speaking in Nakuru during the inauguration of the training programme for junior school teachers of pre-technical studies, agriculture, and nutrition drawn from 15 counties, Ms. Macharia explained that the IBL model presupposes that teachers establish a classroom culture where ideas are respectfully challenged, tested, refined, and improved.

“The culture in the classroom should be one that allows learners to shift from a position of wondering to one of understanding and questioning,” she noted.

Specially trained facilitators gave the participants sample lessons on the elements of the instructional model adopted by the new curriculum to ensure that learning happens by way of engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation (5E).

Teachers were coached on ways to motivate learners, create interest in the lessons, tap into what students know or think about the topic, and ask key questions while encouraging responses from their students.

The master trainers explained the rationale, objectives, goals, and expected outcomes of the sessions. They told teachers to appreciate IBL as a systematic process that begins with framing the investigation by identifying the questions to be answered.

They said the final stage in IBL consisted of reflecting on the inquiry activity with a view to engaging in further investigations.

Ms. Macharia indicated that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects were the building blocks of technology, adding that the ongoing training of teachers for the new curriculum was “very important” in the new education order sweeping across the continent.

The Western Regional Director of Education, Mr. Jared Obiero, who was the chief guest, noted that by embracing digital devices and connected learning, classrooms around the country and around the globe cannot only connect to one another to share insights but also boost learning, experience, and communication skills.

He said public-private partnerships can help unlock the potential of digital learning in Kenya by providing first-class, affordable computer systems and digital access to content, textbooks, videos, audio, and training materials in both private and public schools.

Mr. Obiero praised the CBC method as a step in the right direction for the country to realise its industrialization dreams.

He stated that the training exercise is meant to equip Junior Secondary School teachers with skills to handle changing trends and class management as the education system shifts fully to the Competency-Based Curriculum.

‘‘The new curriculum requires innovative human capacity, and revitalising the teaching profession will ensure quality, equity, and relevance at all levels of education,’’ said the director.

He added, ‘‘Among the retooling aspects is the shift of the education system to remote learning through digital apps. The technology will enhance teaching and learning with their students as well as provide features to enhance teacher-learner engagement,’’.

Mr. Obiero emphasised the effective use of learner-centred strategies in technology learning to enhance the understanding of mathematics and science.

He said technology had changed the way things are done, thanks to science and innovation.

“The future lies in a digital world, and our education must adapt accordingly lest we are left behind,” he added.

Mr. Obiero observed that the African Union had adopted Agenda 2063, which calls for a “revolution” in education, skills, and the active promotion of science, technology, research, and innovation. He was addressing 96 county trainers training on pedagogical content knowledge, drawn from 15 counties.

The counties included Baringo, Kisumu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Kakakmega, Narok, and Kirinyaga. Others were Samburu, West Pokot, Machakos, Embu, Nairobi, and Nyeri.

He said the achievement of Vision 2030 hinged squarely on science, technology, and innovation, which are critical ingredients for a nation’s economic and technological takeoff in the modern world.

The teachers will also be taken through Project Based Learning (PBL), ICT integration, and Inquiry-Based Learning that are in line with on-going curriculum reforms emphasising on making learners experience science and acquire competencies to fit in the 21st-century work environment.

Mr. Obiero pointed out that a concept-based curriculum such as CBC ought to rely on the creativity, technical, and pedagogical latitude of the teacher to come up with more engaging learning experiences that will enable learners to grasp concepts or skills better.

“As such, the teacher must be at the centre of the CBC model. The teacher ought to be better equipped to deliver this. To understand what the whole concept of CBC is all about, the teachers need to be well oriented,” he stated.

CEMASTEA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mrs. Jacinta Akatsa stated that in the CBC curriculum, teachers are expected to use a variety of teaching strategies and resources that involve the learner, while learners, on the other hand, are expected to be active and responsive during lessons so as to construct knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

In a speech read on her behalf by CEMASTEA Management Representative (MR) and Coordinator Field Services Ms. Gladys Masai, the CEO stated that the training had been designed to address teaching and learning gaps observed in schools in terms of interpretation of CBC designs for grade 8 and implementation to realise learner-centred practices.

The CEO further added that the teachers were being trained on the preparation of innovative lessons that integrate ICT, enhancing professional growth by enacting communities of practice and pedagogical content knowledge, rationalising the implemented curriculum, and integrating mentorship and career guidance.

The Coordinator Programme of Junior School and Secondary at CEMASTEA, Mr. Livingstone Makanda, said the teacher is supposed to switch from the role of an expert who transfers knowledge to a coaching role, facilitating and guiding the learning process.

“In competence-based curriculum, skills are not taught but are built. The learner is necessarily the first actor in the construction of their skills. Learner-centred teaching strategies advocated for the implementation of competence-based curriculum in schools include role plays, problem solving, projects, case studies, simulation, discussion, and outdoor activities.”

Mr. Makanda said the training was aimed at improving the quality of teachers in terms of attitude, pedagogy, mastery of content, resource mobilisation, and utilisation of locally available teaching materials.

He stated that besides improved performance by teachers and students, the benefits of IBL included the nurturing of student passion and talents, solving the problems of tomorrow in today’s classrooms, enabling students to take ownership of their own learning to reach their goals, deepening understanding beyond memorising facts and content, and fortifying the importance of answering questions.

“Besides, the approach makes research more meaningful while fostering curiosity and a love of learning. It is an open-ended line to learning guided by students through questions to their teachers,” he explained.

Sustainable Development Goal number 4, Mr. Makanda, added, advocates for quality and equitable education by 2030, and for this to be realised, improving the quality of teachers is a prerequisite.

He noted that the country’s education system is currently on a reform path, a move geared towards improving the human capital index and quality of life.

Kenya has been making strides in providing quality education, which is not only a constitutional right but also guided by Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG), calling for inclusive and equitable education that promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all.

“Every country is looking forward to responding to the demands of the 21st century, which requires innovative human capacity, and revitalising the teaching profession will ensure quality, equity, and relevance at all levels of education.”

Mr. Makanda affirmed that teachers should be well equipped with changing trends in teaching and class management while at the same time inculcating a tech-friendly model because it is impossible to separate technology from education.

He indicated that in a world where the education system is shifting to remote learning, with so many digital apps which have developed and become so popular, teachers should have access to more of them.

By Anne Mwale

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