Kenya classroom ©

Mat Wright

In Kenya, the launch of the Connecting Classrooms programme has led to a partnership between the British Council and the Kenyan government and has shaped the core skills in the first major curriculum reform for 34 years.

Kenya’s focus on core skills began in August 2015, when a British Council team introduced the newly launched Connecting Classrooms programme at the Ministry of Education. Through Connecting Classrooms, the British Council is championing six core skills to help prepare young people for life and work in a globalised economy. The Ministry prioritised four of the core skills for Kenya: critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and imagination, citizenship, and digital literacy. 

The government is currently reviewing the curriculum with the aim of moving from a knowledge-based curriculum to one that is skills, competency and values based. The Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD) is leading on this work, with the British Council playing an advisory role.

The British Council and the KICD wanted to embed core skills into the new Kenyan curriculum to help Kenya with its national development goals and to equip pupils with skills for the labour market. They were also looking to address issues such as radicalisation and substance abuse, and to complement a shift in teaching and learning from giving knowledge to facilitating the learning journey.

In February 2016, the British Council and Kenya’s Curriculum Reform Technical Committee began discussions on Kenya’s education roadmap and how to embed 21st Century skills, competencies and values in the curriculum. 

A second meeting resulted in a draft curriculum framework, which was shared with the Education Cabinet Secretary. This framework identified seven core competencies that will form the backbone of Kenya’s new curriculum, five of which are core skills (critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and imagination, citizenship, digital literacy, and communication and collaboration).  Further meetings were held, looking at embedding the core skills across subject areas and assessment structures.  

As a result, there has been important progress on the first major reform of the Kenyan curriculum for 34 years.  With the support of the British Council, Kenya has designed a competency-based curriculum where 21st century skills are embedded across all subjects, disciplines and through assessment.  Curriculum developers have grown in knowledge, skills and confidence.

The Deputy Director of Basic Education for the KICD said:  “The meetings have enabled us… to have an open mind as we think of what kind of values, knowledge, attitudes and attributes we need to embed in the curriculum as we think of the future of our learners.”

The British Council will continue to support the process of curriculum reform, with plans for support for curriculum design and teacher capacity development. Through the British Council, Kenya also hopes to engage other private and international stakeholders to join hands towards a wider intervention to support the whole reform process to teacher capacity building level.