Value-based Education at ADEA 2017

"Values, positive or negative, that are transmitted to learners in the school setting appear to be associated with the style of leadership and the modelling of behaviour by school heads and teachers."

This was one of the conclusions of the national study on value-based education in Kenya that Dr. Sheila Wamahiu, Director of Jaslika, shared with participants at the ADEA 2017 Triennale on Education and Training held in Dakar, Senegal. She was speaking as a panelist at a parallel session on Building Peace and Global Citizenship through Education on Wednesday, 15 th March. In her talk, she noted that

  • The absence of values of respect for diversity, non-discrimination, tolerance and inclusion contributed to the reproduction of violence in the school and classroom settings.
  • There were at least seven channels of value transmission within the school setting. However, values were transmitted in silos through these channels; positive values learnt through any one of these channels (such as children’s clubs) were rarely reinforced in another leading to value conflicts.
  • There were disconnects at multiple levels between theory and practice, the real and the ideal, the positive and the negative.

She argued that the nurturance of positive values requires the adoption of a whole school, whole child approach. Based on the study findings, she singled out four core values of respect, tolerance, equality and peace as pre-requisites for value-based education. She further observed that these values, anchored in the Kenyan Constitution 2010, were universal, humanistic and inter-religious.

Based on the research evidence, Dr Wamahiu re-conceptualised value-based education in three hierarchical layers, namely (a) value-based education system; (b) value-based schools; and (c) values’ education. She contended that the first level, that is, a value-based education system was missing in the Kenyan context, attributing this partly to its focus on a culture of mean score and certification at the expense of the holistic development of the child.

For more details, you may read the summary paper prepared for the conference here. This paper formed one of the inputs into the Synthesis Paper of sub-theme 1 focusing on “Implementing Education and Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development” though presented under sub-theme 4 on “Building Peace and Global Citizenship through Education”.

The paper is based on the national, mixed method study entitled “Value-based Education in Kenya: An Exploration of Meanings and Practices”. Women Educational Researchers of Kenya (WERK) commissioned the study in 2014. Launched by the Kenyan Minister for Education, Fred Matiang’I in August 2016, this study is a good example of research influencing education policy and reform. The full report may be found at