In this chapter we are going to learn about curriculum implementation. First, we shall look at curriculum implementation process, and then we look at the factors influencing curriculum implementation in Kenya.
10.1 Discuss the concept of curriculum implementation
Meaning of Curriculum Implementation
Implementation is the process of delivering curriculum to the learners. Curriculum development is a developmental process that occurs at different levels. Before a curriculum is implemented in all areas or schools, it is first implemented in pilot schools (a few schools). The pilot findings are used to modify and improve the curriculum before it can be implemented in all schools in the country. This reduces losses and errors to be incurred if the programmed is implemented in all schools.
As we have already noted the purpose of curriculum development, is to make a difference that is, to enable learners to attain the learner’s, school’s and society’s aims and goals of education. Curriculum implementation brings into reality-anticipated changes.
10.2 Explain the nature of implementation
The Nature of Implementation
Implementation requires reorganizing and adjusting personal habits, ways of behaving, program emphases, and existing curricula and schedules. It means getting educators to shift from the current programme to the new programme that can be met with great resistance.
Successful implementation of curricula results from careful planning. Planning processes should address:
- Needs of people
- Changes necessary
- Resources requisite for carrying out intended actions.
Planning takes place prior to program creation and delivery. Effective planning must relate to a desired and identifiable change that is to be implemented. The curriculum planner is an agent of change. The planner should be concerned with instituting change in an orderly fashion.
Implementation requires planning. Planning should focus on the following factors:
- People. The needs of teachers should be given attention.
- Organization or process. The planning process in implementation is very important.
- Institutions. Institutions charged with implementation plays a big role.
People want to change; but they are also afraid of change. They fear change most if they feel that they have little control or influence over it. People become accustomed to the status quo and prefer to make modifications in new behavior in small gradual steps. The world of the teacher does not allow for much receptivity to change. The teachers’ daily routines present little opportunity for interaction with colleagues. This isolation results from the teaching schedules. The isolation impacts negatively on change. The reality of the school has made teachers feel that professionally they are on their own. It is their responsibility to solve their problems. This makes teachers to view change introduced into the school as an individual activity.
The curriculum implementers should facilitate the active involvement of teachers to allow for experiential learning, fosters the creation of an environment that encourages openness and trust, and gives feedback so that participants realize their contributions are appreciated and talents considered worthwhile. Teachers need time:
- To try the new curriculum to be implemented.
- They need time to reflect on new goals and objectives.
- T o consider new contents and learning activities and experiences.
- To try out new activities. They also need time to talk to their colleagues.
Implementation does not occur all at once with all teachers. Implementation process should allow sufficient time for teachers to try out the new curriculum in pieces. Teachers go through the following levels as they prepare to implement a new curriculum. The levels include:
- They orient themselves to the materials and engage in actions that will prepare them to deliver the curriculum.
- They follow the curriculum with little deviation.
- Their delivery of the curriculum becomes a routine and they take little initiative to make changes in the curriculum.
- As they become comfortable with the curriculum, they begin to modify it, either to adjust it to their own educational philosophies or to better meet learners’ needs.
Successful implementers appreciate that it takes time for teachers to “buy into” a new curriculum, and it takes time for them to become skilled in delivering the new curriculum. Curriculum leaders should anticipate teachers’ questions and concerns and they should address the questions and concerns of teachers.
When a new curriculum or programme is being designed, communication channels should be kept open so that the new curriculum or programme may not come as a surprise. Their should be frequent discussions among teachers and curriculum workers about the new curriculum. This is key to successful implementation. Communication is the transmission of facts, ideas, values, feelings and attitude from one individual or group to another. The receiver can either accept or reject the message.
The curriculum developer should make sure that there is comprehensive communication network and that avenue for sending message exists in all levels of this system. An effective system allows all stakeholders to make their contributions. If the curriculum leaders only want to communicate facts about a new programme or curriculum being implemented, they can use media like: Letters, memos, articles, books, bulletins, research reports or speeches.
They may wish to communicate to teachers the underlying assumptions, values and points of view imbedded in a new curriculum. If the new programme is a major change from the existing programme, then the curriculum leader may wish to use: Workshops, meetings, role-playing situations, and demonstration. The real barriers to communication are not technical but persons. Thus the curriculum leader should create a climate conducive to effective communication among all members of educational staff and community. He or she should inform all persons of the avenues that are established for communication and tell them that they have a responsibility to participate and their views are welcome.
Cooperation between all stakeholders involved with curriculum implementation must occur if changes are to be successful and to become institutionalized. Teachers should be engaged in new ideas and programmes that will find expression in their classrooms. The teachers are the experts and their commitment to the new curriculum is necessary. The commitment depends on how active they are involved in the development and implementation, chances of successful implementation are increased. This is because emotions and rationality are elements of change. People require the involvement of their total beings that is, feelings, sentiments and values, if they are to accept, tolerate, or support change.
If changes are to be effective, teachers must be committed to it and must see that it has a professional value to them. Teachers often judge change by how it will address the immediate needs they encounter in their daily works. The point to note is that even the best educational practice is unlikely to fulfil its purpose in the hands of an inadequately trained or unmotivated teacher. We must recognize that successful reform or change is more of a function of people and organizations than of technology or money.
Implementation costs, in terms of both time and materials. Teachers often require in-service training and time to feel comfortable with new programmes. In –service programmes that work have resulted collaborative efforts and have addressed the needs of those who are to be impacted by the new curricula. Effective in-service training has the necessary flexibility to respond to the changing needs of the staff. Open discussions on the new programmses should be scheduled throughout the implementation process. The discussions allow implementers to voice their objections or concerns and hence reduce opposition. Evaluation will help to asses whether objectives are being achieved.
Without adequate financial support the programme will fail. Money is required for materials and equipment to institutionalize a new programme. Money is necessary to provide often-overlooked human support. A trusting relationship must exist among all parties in the school, especially the administrators and the teachers. The director, principle or head teacher is the guarantor of successful innovation and implementation. Implementation is a collaborative and emotional effort. Peer support is vital if implementation is to be successful. Teachers spend a lot of time in individual classrooms with their students and have minimal communication with their peers. Opportunities for teachers to work together, share ideas, jointly solve problems, and cooperatively create materials greatly enhance the probability of successful curriculum implementation.
10.3 Explain the factors affecting implementation of early childhood education curriculum in Kenya.
Factors Affecting Implementation of Early Childhood Education Curriculum in Kenya
ECDE curriculum implementation faces a number of challenges. These challenges include the following:
1. Emerging Issues
As we have discussed earlier, we live in a changing society. There are many societal challenges that affect ECDE curriculum implementation in Kenya today. The emerging issues that affect the ECD curriculum in Kenya include:
a) Free Primary Education
After 2003 general election, a number of key reforms in the education sector were undertaken. Key among them was the re-introduction of the free primary education. This policy shift brought some benefit to the primary education through increased enrolment. However, surveys later pointed out that big enrolment had some negative impact on ECDE curriculum implementation such as:
- Reduced enrolment rate in ECDE centres.
- Increase in attrition rate of ECDE teachers due to poor payment.
- ECDE classrooms were taken over by primary school pupils
- Preschool children were pushed to learn under trees and sit on stones
- Inadequate supervision of ECDE curriculum implementation as quality assurance and standard officers are overwhelmed by the primary education supervision activities.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) one of the leading killer diseases in the world today is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It was reported that by 2001, 1.5 million Kenyans died of AIDS with 1.7 million children being orphaned. This figure is expected to rise by 2010 (KESSP, 2005). This disaster has an impact on the implementation of ECDE curriculum in many ways. These include:
- When sick parents die, orphans eventually drop out of school.
- ECDE teachers are affected or infected by HIV/AIDS.
- Prolonged absenteeism and poor involvement in the curriculum implementation by sick teachers.
- Pre-school teachers are deployed to primary sections to offset the shortage.
- Poor attention of ECDE children.
- The scourge negatively affects people economically. Thus, leads to reduced participation of community members in education matters.
c) Gender issues
Gender refers to social roles that are associated with males or females. The issue of gender in education and development is an emerging issue in the society today. In 2003, the Ministry of Education developed a gender policy framework. The policy pinpoints key gender issues that needs to be looked into such as enrolment, retention, transition rate, negative social cultural practices which inhibit girls’ access to education, conducive learning environment and stereotyping materials. These issues also impact on the implementation of the ECDE curricula in many ways. Most ECDE teachers are females and therefore children do not get the opportunity to be taught by both male and female. Matters of gender include:
- Most ECDE teachers are females.
- There is low participation of male parents in ECDE curriculum implementation due to men negative attitude towards ECDE.
- In some cultures, there is a poor enrolment of girls as they are made to attend domestic chores or even marry early.
- In nomadic communities, enrolment of boys in ECDE centres is low because they are made to tend after the flock.
d) Insecurity and Political Instability
After the introduction of multi-party democracy in Kenya in 1992, some of the political parties that were formed have had tribal inclinations. At times, politicians use them to settle personal scores. They create fear among different groups of people as they rally their clan members, group or tribe to their side. This has led to tribal-cum-political clashes in various parts of the country. In 2008, post-election violence reports showed that women and children were the most affected. In some North Rift areas like the Pokot, Samburu, Turkana, Trans Nzoia and Isiolo in Eastern Province where cattle rustling is prevalent, insecurity is a constant problem. Insecurity and political instability have direct and indirect influences on the implementation of the ECDE curriculum in Kenya.
e) Drought and famine
Drought which is a natural phenomenon is associated with human activities such as de-forestation. Due to drought, farmers experience crop failure, thus leading to famine. The most vulnerable members of the society are women and children. This affects curriculum implementation in the following ways:
- Reduced enrolment of ECDE children
- High attrition rate of ECDE teachers.
- Reduced participation and attendance rate of children
- Reduced community involvement in ECDE programmes
- Inadequate provision of curriculum support materials.
2) Government Policy
Various government policies influence implementation of the ECDE curriculum. These policies include:
i) Language Policy
The National Committee on Educational Objectives and Policies (the Gachathi Commission, 1976) recommended that the language of instruction for lower primary classes be the language of the catchment area. This policy was implemented by developing the language policy. The ECDE language policy guidelines were formulated in line with the language policy that children in pre-schools should be taught using the language used in the catchments area. Most centres prefer English and Kiswahili as the languages of instruction and some especially in rural areas use mother tongue.
ii) Sessional paper No. 6 of 1988
Based on the recommendations of the Presidential Working Party on Education and Manpower Training in the Next Decade and Beyond (The Kamunge Commission Report of 1988), the government of Kenya prepared a policy paper “The sessional paper No. 6 of 1988.” The policy affected the implementation of the ECDE curriculum in the following ways:
- Local authorities, communities, parents and private organizations were encouraged to start more ECDE centres.
- Zonal inspectors were trained to guide and supervise ECDE centres.
- Researches on the development of teaching and learning materials were undertaken.
iii) Sessional Paper No 10 of 2005, “A Policy for Education, Research and Training”
This paper document provides a broad policy framework for the provision of ECDE. The document, outlines policy measures for free basic education for 14 years in phases, these are:
- Phase 1: Free primary education for eight years (started in January 2003)
- Phase 2: Free secondary education tuition for four years (beginning January, 2008).
- Phase 3: Integration of two years of ECDE education (4-5 years) into the free primary education by 2010.
In the ECDE sub-sector, the government, through the policy, committed herself to:
- Developing a comprehensive national ECDE policy framework
- Working out modalities to mainstream ECDE as part of basic education by 2010
- Intensifying capacity building and resource mobilization with stakeholders in management of ECDE facilities and development and implementation of ECDE programmes for vulnerable children and those with special needs.
3) Rural -Urban Migration
Rural-urban migration refers to the movement of people and families from rural areas to urban areas. Although this human movement provides ready and cheap labour to the industries in affected towns, it has some lasting effects on the social, political, economic and educational sectors of a country. Rural-urban migration has the following effects on ECDE curriculum implementation:
- Reduction of enrolment and attendance rate of children in the ECDE centres in the rural areas as the energetic youth and parents move out.
- It affects ECDE curriculum implementation as it results in poor remuneration of curriculum implementers (teachers) and low community participation in ECDE programmes like the building of classrooms.
- The influx of families and their children into towns increases the enrolment rate in the ECDE centres. The huge numbers cannot be catered for by the few available trained ECDE teachers.
- Trained ECDE teachers may also move from the rural areas to urban areas in search of better employment opportunities. This leaves rural ECDE centres under the care of untrained personnel to teach young children.
- As a result of the better pay packages associated with towns, some DICECE officers and Quality Assurance and Standard Officers (QASOs) move from rural areas to towns. This compromises ECDE curriculum supervision in the rural areas.
4) Socio-Economic Issues
There are a number of socio-economic issues which affect ECDE curriculum implementation. These include:
- The economic growth rate of the country,
- Recession and inflation,
- The cost of implementing the ECDE curriculum,
- Structural adjustment programmes (SAPs),
- Liberalisation and economic integrations.
A steady economy ensures that the government and the private sector invest in the provision of Early Childhood Development and Education by building more classes and learning centres, providing curriculum support materials and improving the terms and conditions of service for ECDE teachers.
When a country experiences an economic slowdown or recession, the cost of food and other necessities goes up. The government and families use a lot of resources in buying food and other basic commodities. This leaves other social programmes like ECDE curriculum implementation without the much needed support. This may lead to poor remuneration of ECDE teachers and lack of ECDE curriculum support materials.
Liberalisation of the markets and economic integration affect ECDE curriculum implementation in many ways. The integration of East African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda) is expected to influence ECDE in many ways. It may lead to adoption of a uniform educational system for these countries. ECDE teacher trainees cross the borders in search of education will become more easy and thus, impacting positively on the implementation of ECDE curriculum as more curriculum implementers such as teachers, DICECE officers and supervisors get more opportunities to acquire more knowledge and higher skills needed for effective implementation of the ECDE curriculum. The increasing demand for quality ECDE services by parents has brought a lot of competition among ECDE centres.