Curriculum Development: What are some of the forces which affect the curriculum innovation in Kenya?



9a iv). Provide some of the forces which affect the curriculum innovation in Kenya

Forces Affecting Curriculum Innovation in Kenya

People who develop curriculum are faced with a lot of issues to wrestle with. Some of these affect curriculum changes. In this lecture, we shall refer to these issues as forces which affected curriculum changes in Kenya.

Some specific forces have been selected for our discussion in this lecture. There are many other which could not be discussed in the small space for this lecture. We shall particularly discuss the drive for power, in a force, the appeal for the shillings, growth in knowledge and peoples need in schools.

Imminent Problem


After studying this lecture you should be able to:

  1. Describe some factors, which affect curriculum changes.
  2. Explain how growth in knowledge has influenced curriculum decisions.
  3. Examine various needs of the society, which must be considered in curriculum planning.

Curriculum development is a difficult and complex task. There are many problems and no ready solutions. In many cases curriculum, one would find in our schools appear to stress the teaching of subject matter (knowledge) and forgetting to remember that the child’s needs are paramount. There is too much of class instruction going on in our schools and too little of education of the hands. The question of how far is our curriculum in tune with our social change, needs and future aspirations has been asked again and again. No solution has been given to this question. For those involved in the construction of the school curriculum tend to adapt foreign ideas and use them in teaching. Some of the ideas become completely impracticable and are abandoned before they mature.

There is need for changes which would occur gradually and not abruptly. In most cases the syllabus is designed in such a way that knowledge is brought to the child go seeking for knowledge. The teacher should initiate the child and arouse his curiosity which will lead the child in seeking for knowledge. This process can be termed self-learning which is true learning.

President Moi has repeatedly pointed out that a discipline should be studied more that the content of the subject. This is to say that in studying agriculture children should study the subject from the agriculturist approach and so on. The exploration and inquiry  approaches should be given the priority. While studying a discipline it should be studied in the manner in which it affects our society.

Our classroom instruction does not provide sufficient freedom to the child. A flexible classroom is needed where children go on discovering the world around them as they seek that knowledge is unknown to them.

From the beginning of Kenya’s independence in the 1963 hostile influences have continued to play our school systems.

Groups and individuals of varied viewpoints have since then affected our schools. Today those of us in curriculum work recognized that some agents of forces, and thus some forces and themselves affect the curriculum intimately and consistently. These special and permanent forces, with their temporary agents, tend to cause curriculum change, though sometimes they hold it back. Because the curriculum is where people are, the special, permanent forces bringing about the other affecting curriculum change are dearly human. Each force in its quality of humanness hold potential for good and potential for end. Each lies deep in human motivation.

Four forces affecting curriculum in Kenya have become especially prominent. These are:

  1. The drive for power
  2. The appeal of the shilling
  3. The growth in knowledge with corresponding efforts at evaluation acquisition of knowledge
  4. The needs and concerns of people in schools within surrounding social and cultural factors

    1. The Drive to Power

During the sixties the people’s drive for power over the curriculum revealed itself in the urge of people to speak loudly, to alert other citizens to an alleged problem, to become nationally prominent. Sometimes the drive had a helpful end, often it seemed only a quest for power for power’s sake. During the early sixties the attack on the curriculum was justified because the colonial curriculum was not designed to the needs of the Kenya people. So improvement was needed in providing education geared to meet the need of the learners and for national development.

There has been in the past militancy by teachers organizations which have learned that when one begin to talk about teachers’ welfare, he must soon discuss organization of schools and children’s’ curricula, both of which matters have previously been in the presence of Ministry of Education.

The militant behaviour of youth, beginning at university and moving to the second schools. There has been also a push by scholars in the subject-fields or political positions who often at the expense of professional educators and especially curriculum leaders, who criticize what primary and secondary schools teaching.

While formal arrangements for decision making about the curriculum have not materially changed, the people who have initiated and sanctioned curriculum ideas have often been those who do not understand the concept of curriculum change.

2. The Appeal for the Shilling

A second fundamental force which has affected curriculum change in Kenya has been the strong appeal which money has for curriculum makers. People are always in need of funds to do what they have wanted to do for children, curriculum personnel have found a bonanza in grants-in-aid, which have frequently proved to be mixed blessings. The ministry of education has become a seeker of special grants or leans to improve curriculum. When this money has been acquired, the government through the ministry of education still has something to say about ways in which funds are to be used for supporting and expanding the curriculum.

On the other hand foreign donors in recent years have frequently earn marked, designated, or categorically controls the precise nature of curriculum reform they want. This has been viewed by the country receiving the aid as stifling creativeness and holding back development in the third world among which Kenya is one, as well causing excessive dependence on the developed countries.

While grants or loans have emphasized, for example, particularized the teaching of new mathematics, material developers have demanded financial profits through new educational ideas and increase in child population. Because of the appeal of the shilling the producers of educational materials has flooded the market with these materials which are conditioning, increasingly, what children learn. Thus one can say that both the curriculum package sealers from foreign countries and the sales promotion schemes of businessman here in Kenya are having unprecedented impact on curriculum decision making.

3. Growth of Knowledge

A third force persistently affecting curriculum change in growth in knowledge, which is the past occurred slowly and quite steadily but now shows marked erratic burst of speed. The teacher is no longer able to recover the book. Instead many books now cover the teacher. Nowadays knowledge filters in all fields, so that Herbert Spencer’s question of “what knowledge is of most worth?” becomes more and more pertinent. Against a backdrop of educational objectives curriculum planners are forced to seek new answers to Spencer’s question.


This lecture has explored various issues and changes that have taken place in Kenya before and after independence. Among those issues and changes which took place before independence was the Phelps stokes report which recommended separate education for Africans. Asians and white children allowed to proceed to secondary schools.

The post-independence curriculum changes are discussed starting from the Ominde report (1964) the Gachathi report (1976) and Mackey report of 1981. All these education commissions and committees did recommended that the Kenyan education should be made more practical for the Kenyan child whose education is likely to end at primary school  levels.

Curriculum change as through as they have wished, in part they have been able to show interests in ideas that can now be seen in the newly introduce 8-4-4 system of education Experience has shown tat to organize human knowledge for teaching there is a need for academic scholars to team up with curriculum specialist, behavioral scientists, and specialists, behavioral scientists, and specialists in research and evaluation of curriculum aspects.

With the increasing growth of knowledge definite attitudes towards the of its growth  have emerged. While one of those attitudes has been concerned with how to sort out elements of knowledge and place them with the curriculum, another attitude has been fear that even the former elements are not being understood and learned.

4. Needs of the People in School

A fourth force affecting curriculum change is the need and concerns of pupils, teachers, parents and administration for children .

The real needs and concerns of people have part of their foundation in society and community. Therefore, parents and other community members should be expected to contribute to in-school education. This is not the case with our Kenyan community where most parents feel that the school is an independent institution away from the society in which they live. The present economic order in Kenya assisted by a new technology requires that

Pupils be introduced to new sets of skills to deal with it. The experience in the urban and the rural call for school curriculum to face live social problems Furthermore, the current crisis in unemployment and values among our youth makes us seek better ways of educating in the effective domain.

A major concern of teaching and administrators is for pre-service and in-service development of teaching skills which will help teachers do their best in classrooms. Because of not providing better training facilities to out teachers it has bees difficult for these curriculum change.

Some Curriculum Development Tips

Role of curriculum agents, steps in curriculum development process, translation of theory into practice, recognizing and rewarding academic excellence, affecting methods to enhance learning, the need for foundation of curriculum, classification of curriculum objectives, behaviorism in classroom situation, teaching critical thinking, deciding and applying teaching methods, understanding curriculum designs and sharing curriculum activities.


Bishop, G. (1985). Curriculum Development. A Textbook for Students, London: McMillan Publishers.

Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain, New York: David Mackay Company.

D’Souza, H. (1987). Kenya Education in it’s African Context Vol. 2, Vantage Press. Flaunders, N. A. (1970). Analyzing Teaching Behavior. Addison Wesley Publishing Company.

Johnson, H. T. (1968). Foundations of curriculum.

Kaba, B. D. and Rayapen, L. (1990). Relevant Education for Africa, Yaunde: APWPA Book, Professors World Peace Academy.

Kerr, J. F. (1968). Changing the curriculum, London: Unibooks, University of London Press Ltd.

Okech, J. G. and Asiachi, J. A. (1992). Curriculum Development for Schools, Nairobi: ERAP.

Okech, J. G. and Hawes H. (1986). Reading in Curriculum Development in Primary Schools: Vol. 1 Series on Provision… thro’ British Council HED Section London: University of London Institute of Education.

Oluoch, G. P. (1982). Essential of Curriculum Development, Nairobi: Elimu Publishers Ltd.

Ruju, B. M. (1973). Education in Kenya: Problems and Perspectives in Educational Planning and Administration, Unesco Project Faculty of Education, University of Nairobi and London: Heinemann.

Shiundu, J. S. and Omulando, S. J. (1992). Curriculum: Theory and Practice in Kenya Nairobi; Oxford University Press.

Taba, H. B. (1962). Curriculum Development: Theory and Practice, New York: Harcourt Brace.

Tyler, R. W. (1949). Basic Principles off Curriculum and Instruction, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Wheeler, D. K. (1967). The Curriculum Process. London: University of London Press. Additional Readings:

National Development Plans in Kenya Journals of Education

Encyclopaedia of Education Magazines on Education Theses on Education Research

Education Commission Reports in Kenya Sessional Papers in Kenya

News Papers Research Papers

Dictionaries of Education


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