Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

Interview with Mary Kangethe on the Kenyan Ministry of Education’s work on education and peace

20 December 2012

Mary Kangethe is an Assistant Director of Education in the Ministry of Education Kenya. She is Coordinator of the Peace Education Programme in the Ministry. She is also an expert resource person for the INEE Working Group on Education and Fragility. In this interview, Mary Kangethe explains the Ministry's work on education and peace through highlights from policy and practice. She shares lessons learned and recommendations for other countries, describes some challenges the Ministry faces in implementing its Peace Education Programme, and finally outlines some ways forward.

1. Peace Education is usually considered as being concerned with curricula (i.e. incorporating lessons on conflict, conflict resolution, respect for diversity, etc.), whereas Education for Peace is concerned with how education systems can contribute to peace building and social transformation. Please shortly describe some highlights of the Ministry of Education’s work to contribute towards both Peace Education and Education for Peace in its policies and practice?

Peace Education

Since independence, the education sector in Kenya promotes nationalism, patriotism, national unity, social equality, responsibility, international consciousness and positive attitudes towards other nations. This is mainly operationalized through the national school curriculum.

Violent conflicts related to elections have sporadically occurred in Kenya since 1992. The experiences of the 2007/2008 post-election violence in Kenya prompted the initiation of a Peace Education Programme in learning institutions by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with UNICEF and UNHCR. With time other partners came on board including NPI-Africa, UNESCO, the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention (JCCP), and the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD).

The objectives of the programme are to:

  • Create awareness among learners on the causes of conflicts and how to resolve them amicably
  • Prepare learners to become good citizens in the communities, the nation and the world
  • Use the classroom as a springboard through which values of positive interdependence, social justice and participation in decision-making processes are learnt and practiced
  • Foster respect for diversity

Key achievements of the programme include:

  • Training of master trainers on peace education. These are trainers at the national level who work closely with the National coordinating team in the implementation of the Peace Education programme
  • Development of peace education materials, namely:

        A training manual on peace education
        Teacher activity books for classes 1-8
        A workbook
        A story book
        Psychosocial self-help materials

  • Training of over 8,500 teachers and education officials on peace education
  • Conducting monitoring exercises in 2010 to ascertain the status of the implementation of the peace education programme in schools
  • Sensitising senior managers in the education sector on peace education
  • Development of a final draft of the Education Sector Policy on Peace Education
  • Holding annual stakeholder forums on Peace education
  • Carrying out a National Peace Education Campaign which comprises peace Torch activities, county Peace Education forums,a peace caravan to selected districts and tree planting in selected schools which  were designated as peace zones
  • Organising national, regional  and international peace education forums/workshops

Peace Education is not taught as a standalone subject but is integrated into the curriculum through carrier subjects such as Life Skills, Social Studies, Religious Education and History and Government. The programme also uses co-curricular activities, participatory school governance,anti-bullying interventions and community outreach as a way to encourage the  informal learning of peace education. Peace education uses experiential and activity oriented teaching methodologies.

Education for peace

Though this term is not often used, the education sector plan is anchored on the principle of promoting equity and equality with marginalized groups and communities (based on region, culture and gender) being given priority. While a conflict analysis related to the education sector has not been conducted, the Ministry makes use of conflict analysis data provided by the Ministry of State for Internal Security. Other initiatives to make education conflict sensitive include:

  • The development of policies for alternative provision of education and to reach Nomadic populations
  • The provision for non-formal education in policies and curricular
  • Talent development for young people
  • Incorporation of moulding (the process of shaping behaviour), mentorship and peace initiatives into the education sector plan

2. What are the lessons learned and recommendations you have concerning the implementation of peace education/education for peace that can be useful to other countries?

  • Learning institutions are a critical entry point for interventions aimed at promoting peace and psychosocial wellbeing in times of violent conflict
  • Children and young people have powerful messages on peace that need to be given expression
  • Support of peace education initiatives by senior management is paramount for success
  • Music and drama provide a unique avenue for promoting peace through schools
  • Prompt and comprehensive initiatives that are consistent, by the education sector,  have a positive influence towards harmonious coexistence
  • The development of a critical number of officers and teachers who are trained and have a passion for peace-related issues is critical in the promotion of peace through schools
  • The success of peace education through schools is dependent on respective support mechanisms at the community level hence the need to adopt a multi-sectoral approach in the delivery

3. What are the main challenges that you (have) face(d) in implementing the Peace Education Programme?

  • Though efforts have been made to mainstream peace education in primary and secondary school curricula, this has not been done in all the subjects.
  • Despite the heavy investment in the training of teachers, capacity gaps are still evident especially in the delivery of peace education in the classroom
  • Emphasis on academic subjects at the expense of value-based subjects like peace education has led to a situation where life skills is relegated to a second place and hence not given the attention it deserves in schools
  • The EFA–EDA Report of 2012 (on Kenya) notes that conceptualisation and measurement of life skills-based programmes is a challenge due to a lack of quantifiable benchmarks. This poses a challenge in the measurement of Peace Education
  • Peace education initiatives through the school often lack adequate community-based interventions to support and reinforce the gains made
  • There is weak coordination of psychosocial  interventions during violent conflicts due to lack of a proper response framework

4. What are the ways forward for Kenya’s Peace Education Programme in particular, and Kenya’s work on peace education/education for peace in general?

Planned activities include:

  • Mainstreaming peace education into the curriculum across the board during envisaged curriculum reforms
  • Carrying out an evaluation of the programme with the support of UNICEF
  • Developing a measurement and monitoring framework for peace education in Kenya
  • Implementing Peace Education in secondary school
  • Finalisation and launch of the Education Sector Policy on Peace Education
  • Introducing E-learning in the training of teachers on Peace education
  • Comprehensive documentation of the Peace Education Programme (experiences and future interventions) which was initiated as an emergency response to the crisis.

The Ministry of Education in Kenya is committed to the promotion of peace education in the country and in the region. Through its leadership in the ADEA Inter-Quality Node (ICQN) on Peace Education, Kenya is leading the way to develop relevant, safe and quality education systems in Africa that promote peaceful coexistence among citizens. The ICQN aims at bringing together both post- and pre-conflict countries and strategic partners to promote dialogue and collective learning and to create space for collaborative action on education for peace.