UNESCO pioneers the integration of the General History of Africa into school curriculum in Kenya

Developing matrices for the integration of the General History of Africa into the history curriculum design for junior and senior high in Kenya was the focus of a 5-day virtual workshop held from 22 to 28 July 2020, co-organized by the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.

The integration of the General History of Africa pedagogical materials into the curriculum aims to create a deeper acceptance of the application of UNESCO General History of Africa and to promote better knowledge about African History, free from a biased colonial perspective.

This workshop gathered together representatives from the Ministry of Education, Kenya National Examination Council, National Museums of Kenya, Universities, Teacher Training Colleges, National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Uraia Trust as well as practicing secondary school history teachers, drawn from across the country.

In his opening remarks on behalf of the Regional Director of UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, Mrs Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Mr. Hugue Ngandeu Ngatta, Programme Specialist for Social and Human Sciences, commended the commitment and dedication of the Government of Kenya in pioneering in Africa the incorporation of the General History of Africa into the school curriculum. He recalled background to the two phases of this UNESCO monumental General History of Africa project, and its very initial goal to decolonize African history and ensure its re-appropriation by African themselves and beyond, as well as re-telling the genuine contribution of Africa to the progress of humanity. He further reaffirmed the importance to support the building of national histories that are infused with the General History of Africa, to lay the much-needed foundations for the implementation of the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance, as adopted by the African Union Heads of States and Governments in Khartoum in 2006.

On their part, the Director of Social and Human Sciences at the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, Mr. Joel Ongoto and Ms. Jane Nyaga, Assistant Director for Humanities Section at the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development reaffirmed their commitment and commended the workshop as timely in leveraging on the ongoing curriculum reforms in Kenya, which will facilitate the process of integrating the General History of Africa pedagogical materials in the competency based curriculum for the various age groups.

The workshop convoked different working methodologies, including a daily two-hour online presentations and consultations of the overall tasks assigned to virtual working groups set-up at the beginning of the workshop. This set-up was guided by the strands for dedicated age groups of the curriculum, including the UNESCO pedagogical materials, designed for age groups 13- 16 years and 17- 19 years.

Main achievements from this workshop includes, among others, the development of matrices for grades 7 – 9 and 10 – 12, offering relevant guide for curriculum developers in the integration of General History of Africa in the Social Studies and History & Citizenship curriculum designs at the Junior and Senior secondary school levels. Moving forward, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development expressed interests to incorporate the same into the Diploma Teacher Education Curriculum.

Despite challenges faced during this virtual workshop, notably poor connectivity experienced by some participants, the overall attendance was impressive and workshop successful, with passionate and engaged discussions. Outcomes of the workshop offer a unique experience, which the organizers already committed to capitalize on and document properly, including for sharing of good practice, hence inspiring other African countries that may want to initiate a similar process.

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