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December 12, 2018

Kids need time to achieve potential

Educatiobn Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed/FILE
Educatiobn Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed/FILE

The ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to the individual the burden of pursuing his own education—John Gardner

Last Week, Education CS Amina Mohamed directed schools to adhere to the Basic Education Regulations, 2015, which stipulate, among others, that class hours shall be from 8am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday. Education policymakers consider the period between 8am and 3.30pm sufficient to expose learners to the curriculum.

The period from 3.30pm to 4.45pm has been designated for co-curriculum activities Monday to Friday; 5pm to 7.30pm for self-directed activities Monday to Friday; 7.30pm to 9.30pm preps Monday to Friday; 9.30pm to 6am bedtime Monday to Friday; and 6am to 8am supervised routine activities.

In many education systems, government authorities mandate a certain number of years—and a set quantity of hours per year—during which pupils are required to be in school and engaged in classroom learning.

Countries with brilliant educational systems such as USA, Finland, Germany, UK, and Japan have provided for instructional time more or less similar to ours. The designated hours for formal instruction or class hours on average are six hours and 30 minutes a day.

Education is not simply a content delivery system. It is not about academics, about pumping facts and figures into the heads of learners. Rather, it is a system designed to help children reach their full potential and enter society as productive citizens. School time policies demarcate an institutionally embedded time interval in which societal purposes, education ideals and parent-child ties interlock.

Requiring learners to be taught earlier than 8am and later than, in some cases, 7pm means that they don’t have time for self-directed activities or for preps.

Older generations, including pioneers of the 8-4-4 system, know that the period from 3.30pm to 7.30pm was the time students socialised, discovered each other’s strength and weakness and with the help of peers, addressed the weaknesses be they academic, character or moral.

Hundreds of Kenyans discovered and exploited their talents and abilities during these hours. This was and should be time for moral armament or re-armament.

It is during this period that students read and re-read what they have been taught to deepen their understanding, and also to study ahead of the teacher. Students also revisit subjects or topics they have not understood well. They go back to the notes they made in class, or to textbooks. They also hold discussions among themselves—peer education was an important plank in the education of many a student in the past.

School routine that violates official school hours interferes with the learning process. Students are reduced to passive participants in their own education.

Students’ fear of exams is largely because school managers and teachers have not empowered learners to take charge of their own educational process. Let them take charge and the demons that have always gripped second term in the school calendar will be exorcised.

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