One inadequacy in the Kenyan education system is the lack of a clear and robust curriculum for teaching about geographic concepts to young learners in primary and pre-primary schools. Consequently, pupils go through school without a proper appreciation of the role of their geographies in their lives.
In fact, geography is no longer taught as a stand-alone subject in the primary school curriculum, but is lumped up as part social studies and religious education.
The challenge with this arrangement is that pupils are not introduced to clear spatial concepts early
Even when the concepts are introduced, the specifics of the subject are watered down so that in the end, the pupils are left with only vague notions of geographic ideas.
Ultimately, this leads to spatially illiterate citizenry who are not able to see the value of spatial knowledge in their daily lives.
Collaboration and collegiality
Remedying this situation requires a robust, broad-based and practical curriculum that will not only introduce pupils to geographic concepts but will also demonstrate in simple practical exercises the application of spatial methods in environmental management, food production, manufacturing and in social spaces.
Such a curriculum will require the collaboration of a multidisciplinary team to co-design and co-develop the topics, materials and exercises to promote spatial literacy among primary (and even pre-primary) school pupils and teachers.
The specific steps towards achieving such a curriculum include; firstly, a thorough review of the current education curriculum to identify the specific gaps in spatial literacy training and potential opportunities for incorporating spatial concepts in related topics such as geometry and in environmental studies.
Secondly, there is need for a systematic evaluation of capabilities of teachers and pupils to ensure that the teachers have the capacity to teach the new concepts while the students are also able to adequately understand the new ideas.
Thirdly, a comprehensive outline of the topics to be covered at each stage and the relevant content to be covered in each topic will need to be co-developed by multidisciplinary teams consisting of experts from geography, child psychology and education.
Finally, adequate resources should be put into the design, testing and ultimate publication of the teaching and training material in a language and format that both the teachers and pupils will use effectively use in the learning process.
Ultimately, the success of such an endeavor will require the dedicated efforts of broad-based teams of experts and stakeholders in the education sector.
In particular, the support and good will of the ministry of education and other relevant government departments such as Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC), and Kenya National Qualification Authority (KNQA) will be required.
Most importantly, the support of the teachers’ unions and parent associations will also be important in ensuring the success of the curriculum development.