Kenyans: We need to talk about the new education curriculum

Kenyans, we need to talk about the new education curriculum!

There’s a lot happening in Kenya right now. While I’m at it, congratulations Zimbabwe, though I’m keen on knowing how Mr. Emmerson Mnangawa would take up his role, because if you have a military that’s powerful enough to propose a leader, then chances are the same military is in-charge. He’s got time to prove himself and his cabinet and I sincerely wish the people of Zimbabwe the very best!

Where was I, yes, the education curriculum with a pilot phase commencing January 2018. Here’s a tabular summary of the curriculum:


The education reforms started as early as 2000 and over the years experts have been looking into enhancing not just the sector but also ensuring that students get the very best out of the system. The C S Rotich, tabled a budget  for the education sector,  in the National Assembly on 30th March this year. Some of the funds proposed in that budget included: 10.1 billion shillings for HELB, 83.8 billion shillings for University Education, 14 billion for free primary education, 33 billion for free day secondary education, 2 billion for recruiting teachers and so forth. I know not whether he was aware that the ministry of education would roll out the pilot phase of the new curriculum(2-6-3-3-3) in January next year with the hope of 2018 being the last year pupils would sit KCPE exams.

The budget is an ambitious one and now that the government keeps borrowing money that we do not comprehend where it goes, there’s a lot that could hinder the implementation of this curriculum and I for one, I’m already hurt just by thinking about it.

Coming from a Psychology background, I understand the eight theories that informed this reform ranging from Instructional design theory( Perkins, 1992), Visible learning theory (John Hattie, 2012) to Constructivism theories like Dewey’s Social Constructivism, Gardeners Multiple Intellegence theory, Piaget’s Cognitive theory, to Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development- just to name a few. But, you are not here for the theories, or to hear me go on about them, rather you are here to know how this break down works. So, I’ll try and explain it 2-6-3-3-3 will be as follows:

  • Two years in pre-primary school. The learners will start pre-primary at the age of four, not three or two, but four.
  • Six years in primary school. This is broken down to three years in lower primary (Grade 1, 2, 3) and three years in upper primary school (Grade 4, 5, 6). They’ll have some competency tests and then proceed to lower secondary school at age 12.
  • Three years in lower secondary school ( Grade 7, 8, 9). They will study 12 subjects in lower secondary: English, Kiswahili, Mathematics, Integrated Science, Health education, Agriculture, Business Studies, Social Studies, Sports and Physical Education, Religious Education, Life Skills Education, Pre-technical  & Pre-Career education. They will have the option of choosing 1 or 2 of these subjects too: Visual arts, Performing arts, home science, computer science, foreign language, indigenous language, Kenya sign language.
  • Three years in senior school. Here there will be three pathways that the learner can pursue. This system has been in place in countries like Canada, Malaysia, India, New Zealand and Sweden. It’s an attempt to introduce vocational, technical, talent and general academic pursuit in secondary school. How does it work? The three pathways are: Arts & Sports Science| Social Sciences| Science Technical Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). If a learner opts for the first category, they can pursue Sports, Performing Arts or Visual Arts. If they pick the second, they can pursue Language and Literature, Humanities or Business Studies. If they pick the last category, they can pursue Pure Sciences, Applied Sciences, Technical and Engineering careers or Technology studies. How will their competency be measured/ assessed? Teachers will assess the progress of learners during their three year study. The learners have to complete a mandatory 135 hours of community service, submit a project paper on their pursuit and duly filled journals that track their learning progress. They will also have short quizzes or assessment tasks as overseen by their teachers.
  • Three years in the university or a technical institution.

If you’re with me thus far, then you understand how involving this curriculum is. It cannot be solely placed on the shoulders of the ministry or the school management. Teachers will have to be fully immersed in this but even more so, the parents, and that’s where my concern lies. If you are a Kenyan and a parent and you are reading this, then know that for this curriculum to be effected you have to involve yourself in your child’s education 100%. At the moment, following the highly politicized Free Primary Education, most public schools are overpopulated, understaffed and parents do not contribute any development fund fee because they say “the government says it’s free education.”

Well, it is not free, it is subsidized.

Which begs the question, what about the promise to roll out subsidized fee for secondary school students next year?

I’ll take you back to the curriculum I have shared above, in secondary and senior school, the focus is on more practical, visual and hands-on learning and this costs a tonne! I know most secondary schools face budget cuts especially during the music festivals because the first term spending is on sports, and come the second term, the schools have to focus on drama and music and then there is also the education trip or trips which set the school back in terms of funding. Now, the pathways system, is ambitious, but it is also important, my concern is that schools will provide one or two but not three because of staff, infrastructure and funding. Take for example, STEM, how many secondary schools have fully equipped labs? How many Chemistry/Physics teachers are recruited per year?

I could write a whole paper on my views on this new curriculum, but the first step is talking about it and being fully informed about what’s going to take place. I’ll state this again: I am fully for this new curriculum. I am also aware that it’ll need lots of funding and parental involvement.

On the other hand, it will create opportunities for those who are skilled in the Arts, Technical engineering and more so, it will ease on the pressure students feel leading up to exams.

Finally, the proposed grading system for this curriculum is:

  • 80% and above| Grade A| Excellent| Student is deemed competent.
  • 60%-79%| Grade B | Very good | Student is deemed competent.
  • 50%-59% | Grade C | Good |Fairly competent
  • 40%-49% | Grade D | Sufficient pass | Competent
  • Below 40% | E | Not sufficient/ Fail |Not yet competent

I’d love to know your thoughts on this because it’s 37 days to 2018 and there’s a lot going on and before you blink, your child will be taking on classes that you need to be aware of and to support him/her.

PS: I understand the pilot phase will start with Grade 1 next year.


Writing, reading and updates on this week

I did not get a good night’s rest because I took my worries to bed. They got so comfortable that I found myself sitting on the cold floor listening to Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour album. How’s your week been? What did you learn, fret about or simply put enjoy this week? On writing: I am still working on Ushanga. I have got a few chapters and phrases to work on. On reading: I have read some awesome books and right now my attention is on Ice Homme (Book 3, Valdaar’s Fist Series) by Vance Pumphrey. I also tend to read two or more books at a time when I am faced with an intense work of fiction. Sometimes the kind of breather I take from such intensity comes from reading a romance novel or short story. I have covered a chapter or two into these three books, but it’s safe to say that I look forward to reading these three to the end.

Other updates:

  1. I tried a detox plan this week and failed the first day by taking a cup of coffee.
  2. It seems as though my kinky hair will be free from braids for another week. 🙂 I don’t know what I’d do without conditioner. I took to my friend’s advice, got an avocado and some natural yoghurt to make some treatment paste.
  3. I ate the avocado.
  4. I will use the yoghurt to make a chilli paste because today is bhajia Saturday!
  5. Started out my Monday by visiting a close friend, babysitting and running back home to avoid clashing with demonstrators on the streets.
  6. Received news from YALI stating that the program I was looking forward to had been postponed to June next year. I sank in my chair, reached out for some tea and just sat there wondering why of all that is good and evil, such a thing could come to pass!
  7. It’s taking me a while to get better for I’d struck a nerve when I stepped on Bonnie’s bone and so I have days when I can walk with ease and those days when I have to set an ice pack on the sole of my foot for ten minutes and follow it up with pain killers.

Have a lovely weekend.

Ghosts in the forest

If you would have asked Grace how she felt in that moment, you would have glimpsed at something. My mother says it is like the oldest tree falling in the forest at noon, when the sun has fully kissed the earth.



He always said that he was named after a missionary. He brought good news, conquered her heart, toyed with her will. When he called she ran. When he said, “I want to see you,” she packed an overnight bag.

Grace was his light. She felt like his partner, the one drug strong enough to numb his nightmares, but nightmares called wife and children can never be wished or kissed away. If Grace were to ask anyone, or tune into any local morning radio talk show, she would have received her judgment. She was too smart to feed her brain such mush, instead she took it as it came; the love and kindness, but of all, she lived for the way he cherished her.

Dinner after a long day at work.

Career recommendations and the phrase he kept saying “never change yourself to suit a man, change to suit yourself, keep your dreams alive and never stop working.”

It’s why eight months later seeing Henry at a dinner party walking with his arm around her made Grace desire never ending sleep. When he found the courage to walk up to her, she shook her head firmly, as though each shake could wipe away the images that were playing in her mind.

He reached out for her hand, “Grace.”

“No, don’t,” she said and took one look around the room, but even then she knew. She knew that his wife knew and that is what my mother says is like sharpening a knife.

Hey, can I ask you something?

It’s 10:36A.M. as I start writing this. If you are in Kenya, chances are you are seated at home alone, or maybe with friends, or family simply watching a movie because the news on TV is either depressing or never-changing. You are not on Facebook because since August 8th, you’ve come to tap the unfollow and block icons on your smartphone so much so that you don’t even know what your threshold for isht is.

It is refreshing that Kenyans love to be the bearer of news. First, most of our politicians took up the roles criminals and comedians. We thrive on just how foolish they can get, and especially when they deny uttering statements in public even as they are watching a clip of it. Now, we all have smartphones and bundles! Lawd, what would we be without bundles and powerbanks! Wi-Fi ni ya watu wa Nairobi…some other cities are yet to have that stuff in their homes, oh mercy! I know not the future of journalism, but hey…if in one minute you can get ten million different updates on the same story, well… I digress.

So, this morning I was woken up by two texts. See, here’s the thing world, I am a morning person. Yes, I wake up at 2am and write till 4am then pray to the gods of slumber to allow me to enter their world until 6:30am where I exit their world for that of another dawn. So, receiving a text at half past four in the morning is like being summoned to the world of daybreak, and that my friends, is like trying to get a cat to have a bath!

Image result for cat memes
Google Images

I reach for my phone and then I see “would you please tell me if I am doing the right thing?” Of course, I’d read the second text first. So, I sat up and went to my messages and the first text was “hey, can I ask you something? How do u knw uv lk made the right dsn? I mean, how do u knw that sm1 the 1 4 u?”

I thought, “not with that kind of communication!” and sent her a text message “call me and tell me what’s up.” She called and somewhere between conversation I dozed off. I know I did because as I was going through my phone at seven in the morning, there were three missed calls from her and eight text messages. I could try and tell you what they were about, but given that she’s not the kind to use words while texting, we’d both be at a loss. My fingers for doing the typing and you for struggling to read what you’d consider a drunkard’s slur.

I’ve always known a couple of phrases to be conversation starters for people at a crossroads. When someone says “can I ask you something?”, “can we talk?”, “are you busy?”, “can you do me a favour?”, “listen…”, “I have this friend,” then know that it’s not going to be a declaration but rather a call for your full attention, because there’s a dilemma that needs a solution.

I happened to fall asleep in the middle of the discussion of one. It’s pretty obvious that I had to call and make amends, but it also reminded me of something I have been taking for granted for the past one month. My instinct.

I’ve been struggling with writing Ushanga and all the while there’s been the feeling of giving my characters room to grow and breathe life into the story. In a way, I am working on that, but I love control and no, I am not Mr. Grey who exercises control in all things…I am learning to let go and sometimes working with an outline can really stifle your writing.

Have a good day people!



Listening to: 4:44 by Jay Z

Drinking: Black coffee (my first cup of the day)

Where I stand

I suck at headlines. Let’s just get that out of the way before we get into what I’d love to share now.

It’s been a difficult week for me. I have been through emotional wrecks that I could not summon the strength to write about them. On the plus side, I have managed to stick to my journal writing even if we are talking about the phrase ‘good night Jodie.’

I call my journal, ‘Jodie,’ and she’s a pretty good listener, always willing to soak up ink, tears and stickers…like the bubblegum wrappers that I have been collecting over the years.

So, amidst my turmoil, my friend, totally high on a mixture of drinks tells me, “you know, for a Counselor, you really need a Therapist, just find out where you stand, like for me, I’m wasted, but I know I am standing outside waiting for a tuk tuk with you…sindiyo!”

I nodded and helped her get into the tuk tuk, saw her home and tucked her into bed before getting home wondering just how right she was. I was in the midst of chaos and all I needed was some solid ground. I had to figure out where I stood…and of course, being a worrier, the why? would come rushing immediately after.

  • I get up every day and report to work.
  • I get to post on this blog, as often as I feel like it.
  • The Crown of the Sea is finally out, and I have started on the project that I needed to, delving into a book that’s long overdue.
  • Finally done with my medication, and trust me 6 months of medication to clear your lungs is a chore! Bonus points include: Gaining 3kgs and some —.
  • Got the bright colored pencils and sharpener I yearned for. Uchumi may be sinking but bless them for stocking some unique stationery for me 🙂
  • My family’s safe and everyone is doing what they can under their own spotlight. The nephew’s taller and more curious, can you believe he asked me when I am going to have a baby of my own? Like seriously Arch, when are you going to have someone call you mummy? (You should have seen my younger sister choke on her juice, and she never chokes!)
  • Mom’s getting that MA in Literature and I am so asking her to get that PhD! Love her…now you know where my love for books hails from!
  • There’s this book…that is giving me the feels right about now…Love Comes Later by Mohanalakshmi RajakumarLove Comes Later by [Rajakumar, Mohanalakshmi]
  • Setting up a social entrepreneurship project is tough as walking backwards downhill! I am learning the ins and out of customer service and planning….it is taking a toll on me.
  • Fitness is not that scoop of ice-cream, even though I could use some Blueberry ice-cream right about now, I am slowly regretting taking up a bet with Eve on fitness.
  • Got my eye on the road…and when I take off, you’ll get all the updates.
  • It’s great to try out a variety of body products because there is something about Neem, it smells not as great as I’d hoped it would, but it’s alright I guess…and what would I do without the Diva soap!IMG_20170429_155146

So, where do I stand? I reckon it’s here, but on emotional well being, I am still a little bit fuzzy. I am glad that I am writing and that in between the books I get to sit down and read some great works that inspire me to do even better.

Happy #LabourDay and do have a wonderful week!


6:00 o’clock.

He found his way home at 6:00 o’clock in the morning. He went straight to the bathroom, turned on the shower and stayed there until he heard the front door being shut.

It was the eighth time he’d done just that.

She was not counting, but who knew that every time he did it, her heart broke, a dimming of a light that wanted to shine bright. She would get to work, put on her smile and attend to clients all day. He would text once or call sometime towards the evening, “I’ll be working late.”

She would ask herself, “Working on who?” but would simply text back or answer “It’s okay love.”

Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

She said it for every time he came home late…she would say it to herself, not to him, he did not deserve to see her break.

When she asked her friends for advice, some shook their head and then continued chatting on their phones and taking selfies. Some friends pitied her while others told her to hang in there. He was going through something and if she butted in, he would not resolve it. “If your man wants space, give it to him, or else you’ll lose him.”

So, she sat on her desk, called the florist outside their office building and asked him to wrap two roses…in brown wrapping and deliver them to his office…

One last time.


I dream of a world…

I dream of a world, a world where…I don’t know. It just looks so crisp and clear in my mind, but when I try to write it down, then my fingers refuse to hover over this keyboard…I press “Enter” and nothing fills the screen like it does my mind.

A world…


I dream of what I have been taught to deem impossible: honesty, humanity, empathy, understanding, love.

I wonder what it feels like to be a Member of Parliament in Kenya. Isn’t it blissful to drive around in a Range Rover, splashing dirty water on the people who appointed you to be their representative? To sit back and watch Teachers and Doctors down their tools because they demand better working conditions and resources, and to simply say your pay package should be tripled? To eat samosas and drink tea along corridors, while street kids beg and watch you over the electric fence, being held back by young men with guns?

Is it not bliss?

To stand before the very same people you drive past, and say “if you elect me this round, I will bring good roads, our children will go to school, and our mothers will not die during delivery?” To stand and spew such words, you call them truth, and when you leave, you hand over twenty thousand shillings to a group of people and watch them punch each other for it.

I wonder, is it not blissful, to produce newspapers that only few can afford, a feeding of the mind, of information that is discussed and printed based on whose cheque has more zeroes and comas?

I dream of a world, a world that would be quite bland without a twinge of greed, lust, murder, deceit.

I wonder, is it really democracy when the decision of forty million people is left in the hands of around two hundred people? Is it democracy when we have to beg for donations, for other countries to feed our own children, while we drink tea and samosa at 10,000 shillings?

  • Sometimes, I dream of a world where in writing new worlds would be created that would do away with the grief of the current world.
  • A world where one who is accused of crimes against humanity and mass murders is not given the chance to vie for top leadership, until they are proven innocent.
  • A world where we are not told of what is wrong, but we see it and speak of of it and correct it.
  • A world where your name is just that, your name and not the root cause of all the prejudice and hate one has bee taught to feel.
  • A world where a child learns under a well built classroom, with a well motivated teacher, healthy classmates and most of all, the confidence of taking exams- not as a judgment, but as a refresher of what s/he has learned.

I dream and sometimes, I look at myself and wonder, what am I doing towards creating this world? Is it not in writing? Is it not through words, in my expression? Is it not through the initiatives I am engaged in?

The only question that remains is: is it enough?