On Thursday 31st August, Ms Wangui Nganga and Ms Naom Ondicho represented Jaslika Consulting at a workshop organised by THINK EQUAL-Kenya at a Nairobi Hotel. The one day workshop, funded by UNICEF was graced by participants from the Ministry of Education (MoE), the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), the Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN), Plan International, Women Education Researchers of Kenya (WERK), Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, Nairobi County and early childhood teachers.
The objective of the workshop was to deliberate on the strategies of adapting the Think Equal programme in Kenya. Think Equal is an initiative which seeks to drive global change and create a new generation of global citizens in a sustainable, safe, free and equal world. It builds on the belief that education, especially early childhood education, can be transformative and can be used to change entrenched mindsets that perpetuate violence and is the root cause of all violations of human rights. In consideration of this, it has developed teaching-learning materials that may be used to inculcate values in children from the earliest, formative years of their life. As Dr Eva Njoka reiterated in her official remarks, Think Equal “adopts a holistic approach to education to support a new generation of learners who are emotionally intelligent, care and are concerned for others and the environment, can establish positive relationships and make responsible decisions – in the context of the United Nations’ post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Think Equal proposes the addition of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as a component of education curricula around the world, and for such education to start from the very beginning of every child’s formal education”.
Urging early childhood development partners to support the Think Equal programme, Ms Sophia Yiega argued that by doing so they would be contributing to the creation of a “free and equal Kenya for our children”, a Kenya that would be free of “prejudices of all kinds, without violence against women and without many other forms of discrimination among the school-going population”.
Mr. Declan Magero, the focal person for Think Equal in Kenya, quoting philosopher Aristotle, reminded participants that ‘Education of the head without education of the heart is no education at all’. He decried the cost of violence in the world noting that ‘No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate and if they learn to hate then they must also learn to love’. (Mandela) He informed the audience that the objective of Think Equal was to holistically educate the world’s children, and ensuring that their social and emotional intelligence is developed. This he concluded would bring social and economic rewards for all nations.
Dr. Sheila Wamahiu (Director Jaslika Consulting) who serves as a member of the Global Advisory Committee of Think Equal linked the Think Equal concept to her earlier work on Value Based Education in Kenya. She emphasised on the need to nurture values in learners to ensure that they learn to do the right thing because doing the right thing is the right thing to do. She presented to the participants a sample of the resource materials that Think Equal had developed, noting that these had already been adapted for piloting in Sri Lanka in 2018.
Ms Jackie Onyango, a senior assistant director KICD affirmed that there was room to incorporate the Think Equal materials as it was in line with the KICD mission of nurturing every learner’s potential. Mr Darius Mogaka, Director of Policy at MoE and Mr Fidelis Nakhulo, Deputy Director Quality Assurance Directorate at MoE noted that there were several gaps and opportunities in the Kenyan early childhood curriculum which Think Equal could fill. Ms Elizabeth Gitonga from AfECN in her closing remarks affirmed her organisation’s willingness to support the adaptation of the materials to the Kenyan context alongside other partners.
In Kenya, Think Equal is hosted by WERK. Its President is Dr Evangeline Njoka who is also the Secretary-General of the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO. The members of the steering committee are drawn from a cross-section of civil society organisations, the MoE and KICD.