Kenya’s 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 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 percent 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.
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 the Education Ministry.
“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 development agenda, which places emphasis on the link between education and the labour market.