The Advancement of Learner-Centred Pedagogy in Kenya

July 02, 2015Caroline Jordan

Countries across the globe are prioritising education which both empowers and provides learners with cognitive and non-cognitive skills to thrive in the 21st Century. Under this framework, researchers, policymakers, non-state actors and donors have advanced learner-centred pedagogy.

Learner-centred pedagogy is by no means new, it has roots amongst philosophers of the early 1900s; for instance, Jean Piaget asserted that knowledge is constructed through experience and similarly John Dewey claimed that learning is attained by doing. Since then, these concepts have developed and a focus on interaction as a key tool for education has been adopted in many classrooms.  In Kenya this approach has not yet been fully realised in practice, but reform efforts are now underway.

The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) is currently reforming the national curriculum with a focus on learner-centred pedagogy, in order to develop creative thinkers, collaborators, problem solvers and effective communicators. While best practices on learner-centred curricula and teaching styles can be drawn from across the globe, a critical challenge for the Government of Kenya is preparing a nation of teachers to effectively deliver learner-centred pedagogy. It is commonly recognised that when education reform takes place, teachers often have minimal understanding of the reform initially.  When teachers are forced to reject familiar practices and attitudes and to internalize and implement new approaches with insufficient support, reform efforts often stall. It is paramount that the Government of Kenya gives sufficient attention to training teachers in learner-centred pedagogy to ensure its successful implementation.

To further knowledge about this transition, CEI took a look at 8 non-sate innovations implementing teacher training in learner-centred pedagogy. (Education Beyond Borders, Dignitas, PACEMaker International, SIPSE, Shining Hope for Communities, Student Leaders Understanding our Slums (S.L.U.M.S)Madrasa Early Childhood Programme (MCEP).  The full report contains more detailed findings, but several broader takeaways did result from CEI’s analysis.

First, looking at the 8 non-state innovations it was clear that teachers plan an integral role in the effectiveness of implementing a learner-centred approach.  Because of this vital role for teachers, approaches targeted towards gaining teacher acceptance of, and competency within, learner-centred styles are important.  At the same time, it is critical to manage the expectations of students, parents, and the broader community so that learner-centred reforms have the time and space needed to develop.  The report also found that strategies such as networking, peer monitoring, and training the trainers models were all shown to be productive approaches when CEI evaluated the various programs.

Discussion and site visits with some of these programs sheds light on effective program components, best practices and what works thus feeding into the program design of a national teacher training program on learner-centred pedagogy. Common themes identified in this case study also serve as an analytical tool for breaking down any teacher training program or system and analysing the effectiveness of its core components. Click here to see the full case study.

Caroline Jordan is a Project Manager at the Varkey Foundation, where she is a member of the Education Management Team.

Photo Credit: Shining Hope for Communities

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