Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha
The efforts of the Ministry of Education (MOE) in conjunction with The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to put in place the Community-based Learning Programme to functionally engage the learners as they sit out the Covid-19 pandemic are doomed to fail.
The initiative has received mixed reactions from both the parents and teachers because while it is a step in the right direction in ensuring learner’s are positively engaged, it is a poorly thought-out plan simply meant to justify the salaries teachers continue to draw even as schools are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The statement by the Cabinet Secretary of Education Prof. George Magoha while defending the programme against it’s fiercest critics betrays its short-term objective. The CS said: “If you don’t want to teach the children just say so…” In other words, Community-based learning is more about engaging teachers than engaging learners.
The programme has many obvious shortcomings. First, the Ministry does not seem to have clear cut objectives to be achieved in the implementation of the Community-Based Learning for the learners. Needless to say, if the main aim is to engage and justify teachers salaries, the programme is headed towards an ignoble failure.
Secondly, there are no proper implementation strategies in place. For instance, it is not clear where the classes are going to be held, whether in neighbouring school compounds, churches, under trees or social halls. Additionally, how to ensure these diverse facilities meet Covid-19 safety protocols in time is still not clear.
Further, the proposed content to be covered in these classes is, for lack of a better word, laughable. How do you teach weeding, grazing, home chores to children who are born to herders and farmers? Never mind most teachers themselves have never owned or grazed a herd of animals.
How are the unlucky teachers going to make these kind of tasks interesting and relevant to an urban kids whose focus and environment is digitally endowed. Wouldn’t this be a fertile ground for these hormone-driven teenagers to indulge in illicit liaisons and truant activities?
In my opinion, there are better ways of engaging the youth in more spiritually, socially and physically uplifting activities than the proposed classes. Already, all over the country, young impatient youth have organized for themselves soccer tournaments and competitions that engage them more wholesomely.
The government should look for way to actively encourage these informal and extracurricular activities and meetings and use them to educate the public on on Covid-19 protocols and safety measures. For starters, the government can provide sporting equipment alongside masks and sanitizers through Nyumba Kumi leaders.
In my view, what is needful is a more natural and fun way of mitigating coronavirus challenges, spreading awareness and appealing for personal responsibility in the fight against the virus and engaging both the learners and teachers in a productive way. We need not re-invent the wheel to this done in the name of Community-based learning.
Kennedy Sile is a Political Analyst and Education Expert based in Bungoma County.