Curriculum Development: What is the conception of curriculum innovation in the Kenyan context?



9 a i). Discuss the aspect of curriculum innovation in the Kenyan context.


Issues and changes in curriculum are many. In recent years we have a seen wide range of innovation s emerge in education. the efforts of the innovations for the innovations are designed to improve the quality of schooling for all Kenyan children. The most recent effort has been the introduction of the 8.4.4 system of education with vocational education as its core. Other changes which have occurred in education since early sixties through seventies are the establishment of the Jomo Kenyatta foundation for the publication of educational books and other related teaching materials; the establishment of Kenya School Equipment Scheme (KSES) for the acquisition and distribution of school equipment to schools under the jurisdiction of the ministry of Education. the scheme supplies mainly books and other instructional materials to the primary schools throughout the country.

However, many attempts to develop the systems designed to meet the needs of the children in Kenya have appeared and again disappeared through out the history of education in the country. Although we have not yet developed the means to implement genuinely effective education programmes designed to meet the needs of individual children, the government has increasingly a wide range of options and directions to be followed.

This lecture is devoted to a discussion of such options and changes. Some changes have been with us for long while others are quite recent in our educational practices.


After studying this lecture, you should be able to:

  1. Identify curriculum changes before independence
  2. Identify specific curriculum changes in subject areas after independence
  3. Name some of the curriculum projects that have been initiated in Kenya after independence
  4. Name curriculum projects initiated before independence

This study of curriculum changes in Kenya goes back to the year 1890 when Africans rules themselves. The curriculum that was offered to the youth was meant to prepare him for his responsibilities as an adult in his home, his village and his tribe. Instructions were given by the fathers and through organized systems of elders or villagers.

The curriculum that was taught to the child included:

 Curriculum Changes in Kenya

Craftsmanship through apprenticeship system, initiation of rites, religion, hunting, farming including the raising of cattle, community responsibility, number work, dance and music.

The elders as part of the instructors made sure that the youth were introduced to the legends surrounding previous exploits of their tribe, to the mysteries of their religion and practical aspects of hunting. Along this process of teaching-learning aspects, there were varieties of formal and non-formal observances in addition to the experience of daily living which had a profound effect on the youth’s place in the society in which politics economics and social relationships were invariably interwoven.

The period (1891-1911) of the curriculum development in Kenya was heavily assisted by few Christians missions and indirect government help given in the form of grants in aid. The primary goal of missionary education was to make converts and train catechists. But it soon established as basic elements in the curriculum the following:

Practical skills, carpentry, gardening (to maintain mission stations) and literacy (reading and writing).


These skills were taught specifically to children so that they could acquire skills to use and also learn how to relate themselves properly to their immediate and extended families, ancestors, their peers and their gods.

The period (1911) marked the beginning of the establishment of the department of education with a Director. In 1924 there were four outstanding events, which contributes largely to the process of Kenyan education. These events were as follows:

The visit of the Phelps stroke commission, the adaptation of the Education Ordinance of 1924, the appointment of the colonial office advisory committee and the appointment of Local Advisory Committee on African Education.

The general policy of the Educational Department as adapted in 1911 and based upon the excellent work of the great Afro-American known as Mr. Booker T. Washington in a book entitled “working with the hands” not only remained unchanged in principles, but was confirmed and strengthened, first by the agriculture policy of the late Sir Robert Corydon and secondly by the principles advocated by Dr. Jones and the Phelps Stokes Commission, namely Adaptation to Environment in Education, and the distinction between the education of the masses and the education of the leaders.

By 1952 the principles governing the curriculum were based as far as possible on the Mentality, Customs and Institutions of the Africans. New knowledge or skill was taught in contact with the indigenous knowledge or skill. The curriculum was developed in view of the needs of the village. The life of the school provided opportunity for the exercise of the quality of character which the colonial office wished to impart and encourage and therefore the curriculum was to utilize every opportunity of education arising in the life of the school.

Since independence up to the present there has been a rapid expansion of education in Kenya. First there was the integration of the pre-1963 African. Asian and European syllabuses into one. Then there was the New Primary Approach which was initiated in  the mid-fifties by the special centre. The chief developments were seen in classroom practice and in the material used for the teaching of English, Kiswahili, Mathematics and Science by Curriculum Research and Development Centre was formed through amalgamation of the Mathematics and Science Centre with the special centre. By 1968 Kenya Institute of Education (K.I.E) absorbed the C.R.D.C and its on-going projects. The biggest in scale of these were the safari English Services which were used in standard IV, V and VI in high proportion.



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