We need to restructure curriculum to achieve our goals
10 months ago, 30 Dec 22:51
There has been a national uproar over the supposed poor performance in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination, whose results were recently released by the Education Cabinet Secretary. A key contention is that less than 70,000 students in that examination met the minimum university entry criteria of a mean grade of C+. Public universities alone have a capacity of over 70,000, and it is conceivable that all qualifying students will be placed in these institutions. As a result, there are widespread fears that private universities will not be able to admit any students this year, and should this trend continue, many of them will have to close down. Several problems are revealed by our attitude towards these examination results. Firstly, our perception that not attaining a mean grade of C+ is a failure is problematic. For the time being, C+ is just a minimum university entry grade, not necessarily a pass mark in the examination. PASS MARK For instance, a candidate scoring 50 pc, the conventional pass mark, would not qualify to join the university despite not having failed the examination overall. It is, therefore, important to separate the minimum university entry grade from an objective assessment of a candidate’s individual performance. Ideally, entry into the university is determined by the collective capacity available, a system that gave birth to the current system with a shifting minimum university entry grade based on overall performance in the examination. This brings us to the second problem with our education and examination system – the assumption that the minimum university entry requirements were determined by objective science that actually says something about a candidate’s ability to learn at university level. As previously indicated, the entry grades were determined by the capacity available in our public universities. Initially this was pegged on bed space in the halls of residence, but there have been attempts to delink these two. LIMITED SPACE This has, however, not resulted in any significant increase in capacity, because other resources, including teaching staff, space, and materials remain limited in our setting. Only a lack of creativity keeps us in the mental detention that assumes that the C+ grade is a magical indicator of the ability to obtain a university degree. Some recent research conducted by a doctoral candidate indicated that at least as far as medical school performance is concerned, there is little association between the actual KCSE grade and outcomes at several stages of medical school training. Thirdly, our preoccupation with university education is not healthy for this country. We have over time structured our education system to become a pipeline that terminates in the university. DEGREE Right from kindergarten all the way through primary and secondary school, the system is designed to prepare the learners for university entry. It assumes that nothing useful happens outside of the university, and all the other tertiary training institutions are considerably inferior. The truth of the matter is that there is a role for all learning institutions, including village polytechnics ...
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