Embracing value based education

Janet Ouko fighting for better eduation system. Photo Courtesy
Janet Ouko fighting for better eduation system. Photo Courtesy

Women Education Researchers of Kenya (WERK) a professional association of researchers in education and social science have commissioned a study on Value Based education in Kenya with the purpose of furthering understanding of value-based education in Kenya.

The research is expected to inform the government and other education actors about the role and methods of faith-inspired approaches to inculcate values and attitudes including identification of those inter-religion values and skills which constitute good global citizenship in the Kenyan context.

The study offers insights into the meanings and practices of value based education in Kenya.

It concludes that a culture of values and ethics is largely absent in Kenyan primary schools curriculum: values like integrity, fairness, tolerance, respect for others and human rights were not explicit in the general objectives of primary education.

There is a big difference between pupils and teachers on their perception of the extent to which these values were being emphasized in schools.

Additionally, integration of values in different subjects and classes were neither systematic nor progressive.

The curriculum and school practices failed to recognize the interconnectedness of values that acquisition of one can lay the basis of learning another and that inculcation of values requires positive reinforcement.

Belio Kipsang the principal secretary in the ministry of education science and technology read a speech on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi that read, “This report is very timely as it has come at a time when we are experiencing unrest in schools. It is high time we ask ourselves what role we are playing as a society in what is happening in schools instead of blaming the teaches or the parents, as lack of values is also reflected in the wider societal challenges such as violence, injustices, corruption, discrimination, nepotism, terrorism, and other attacks in this country.”

The study contends that the examination focus of the education system is a major deterrent to the development of a culture of values and ethics in and through schools.

It urges that the absence of values and ethical practices is the common denominator associating acts of corruption, criminality and terrorism in the wider society on the one hand, and cultures of violence, abuse and impunity in educational institutions on the other.

Education policy makers, opinion leaders and implementers must recognize these inter linkages in order to address challenges confronting contemporary society, both Kenyan and global.

Lack of values has also been seen where teachers and others in authority use children to cause vandalism in schools so as to pass a message in their own interest.

Jane Ouko governance and education rights advocacy specialist and head of the Elimu Yetu Coalition said in an interview with citizen TV “using children was a common tactic used to achieve selfish gains but this time with the burning of schools? I did not know this time round children could be used to humble government officials and it is a frustrating state of affairs and as adults we have to think thoroughly the engagements we are doing in the sector.”

In CS Matiangi’s speech, he said, “values are best inculcated when they are modelled and reinforced positively, the use of corporal punishments and other degrading and humiliating punishments to correct students’ moral behaviour and improve performance leads to the valuing of violence and embracing it as a problem solving mechanism.”

The Kenyan constitution 2010 forms the basis of all policy and legislation in the country. It also provides guidance on national values and principles that echo universal human rights principles. Though the education Act was aligned to the constitution in 2013, the education system is yet to be reformed to reflect these values and principles.

The majority of the research participants noted that the competitiveness provoked by the examination orientation

In conclusion it was recommended that stakeholders with an interest in quality education must work to ensure that schools are equitable and just, that they are inclusive, unifying and that the ethos of the school reflect this.

For Value-based education to work there is need to move beyond mare rhetoric and genuinely embrace the whole school, whole child approach.

The motivation to implement it must be intrinsic, coming from within, knowing that value based schools yield more positive outcomes for the child, teachers, school and community.

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