The draft MIL curriculum for teachers in Kenya was yesterday (on 6th September, 2019) validated by stakeholders for adaptation and mainstreaming in teacher training and professional development in the country. Stakeholders drawn from government agencies, academia, education sector, civil society and the private sector hailed the draft curriculum as a timely resource for re-tooling the Kenyan teacher to deliver on the new competency based curriculum being implemented in Kenya. The draft curriculum was extracted from the UNESCO MIL Curriculum for Teachers Guidelines and customized to local standards by the Centre for Media and Information Literacy in Kenya in consultation with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).
During the validation workshop held at KICD in Nairobi, the stakeholders encouraged the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development to conduct a needs assessment for further anchoring of MIL in teachers training. This call was led by Mrs. Purity Ngure, a teacher trainer and the current Principal of Muranga Teachers College who added that teachers need to be equipped with life skills including MIL competences. Ms. Ngure noted that MIL is a necessary and critical life skill for both teachers and students in this era of fake information, disinformation and fake news. She said that MIL skills will enable teachers guide students to deal with media and other sources of information, adding that MIL has real value and needs to be mainstreamed in the education curriculum, not necessarily as an examinable subject.
Another delegate, Mr. Kimani Charagu, a library information specialist trained in MIL noted that up to 2004, Library User Education was a taught unit in teacher training colleges before it was scrapped. He lauded the draft curriculum effort, noting that this would be the best chance to re-introduce the library user course in the teacher training, and called for emphasis of the topic in the draft curriculum. Mr. Kimani said that MIL is critical for functional learning and would go a long way in protecting children online and in other forums. Mr Kimani decried the low emphasis of children’s literature in the education system, and argued that MIL would do well to plug the gap.
Mr. Ayub Mohamud, an award winning teacher and peace activist noted that MIL is recognised among the pedagogies that build resilience in students by conferring critical thinking abilities. Quoting from the UNESCO guide for policy-makers on preventing violent extremism through education, Mr. Mohamud said that MIL supports learners by encouraging them to scrutinize data, information and media content that they interact with, and by providing them with the skills to create their own content for human rights, tolerance and a culture of peace.
Dr. Jacinta Maweu of the University of Nairobi expressed her bias for critical thinking, and said that it should be emphasized and come out clearly in the draft MIL curriculum. She noted that critical thinking is an intended outcome in the new curriculum in Kenya and said that mainstreaming MIL would go a long way to confer the competence to teachers and students. Echoing the call for emphasis on critical thinking, film maker and media literacy trainer Mr. Ogova Ondego of Lola Films noted that MIL is important for civic education and teaching responsible citizenship. He urged the MIL curriculum writers to clearly separate the various forms of media for the student teachers, and stress the humanist values such as truth, tolerance, compassion and respect.
Media Council of Kenya representative Mr. Leo Mutisya called for a clear definition of terms to help separate media and information literacy from journalism, especially on the topic areas covering photojournalism and advertising. Mr. Mutisya informed the stakeholders that Media Council of Kenya had also partnered with UNESCO to develop the MIL policy and strategy for Kenya, and the process was at an advanced stage.
Finally, keynote speaker Prof. Muiru Ngugi of the University of Nairobi commended UNESCO, CMIL-Kenya and the KICD team for coming up with the draft MIL curriculum for teachers. He also called for clear definition of terms and the need to emphasize on the benefits of public interest journalism in the curriculum on journalism and society. Prof. Ngugi also asked the MIL curriculum developers to treat social media as a topical area given its prevalence and potential as an educational tool.
Participants expressed gratitude on the timeliness of the MIL curriculum for teachers discourse and called for intense lobbying to have it mainstreamed in teacher training once the final draft is developed.