Dr. Awiti of the Aga Khan University & East African Institute: It’s Time to Scrap the Rote Learning Mentality

Our education system does best what it is designed to do: produce huge numbers of unsophisticated literate citizens. However, what continues to baffle me is that the colonial desire to produce an unthinking, subservient underclass was not any different from what the African elite, the heirs to the colonists, imagined of the post-colonial society. Successive governments have demanded unquestioning allegiance, total dependence on the benevolence of the state and mindless convergence around a flawed vision of society as authored by the political class. This explains why this rather problematic way we educate our children has been very durable.

Alex Awiti, Director - East African Institute & Assistant Professor - Aga Khan University
Alex Awiti, Director – East African Institute & Assistant Professor – Aga Khan University

… We teach our children too much stuff at the expense of developing critical capacity in key areas of knowledge, skills and attitudes. It is time to pare down the primary school curriculum. We must define a small set of core competencies in reading, writing, math, teamwork, critical thinking and analytical reasoning, against which teachers, parents and students are held accountable.

… Half a century of an education system that stifles thinking is enough. It is time to end the exam-centric system of education, which undervalues critical thinking, analytical reasoning and knowledge application, but rewards mindless regurgitation of undigested facts.

… Kenya needs not unthinking technicians and minions. To be relevant and competitive in the 21st century, Kenya needs to nurture a new generation of thoughtful, creative and innovative knowledge workers.

Published on August 17, 2015.
By Alex Awiti, Director of the East African Institute and Assistant Professor at Aga Khan University.

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  1. Great!! We indeed need to get rid of rote learning. However, there are some facts which needs to the learned by rote. Formulas, valencies, names etc. are to be rehearsed again and again. There is a need to the create value for post cabon post carbon rural based ecologically safe livelihoods and habitats or generate equity in the use renewable resource based green technology​. We need to create value for what I call WAAH GDP generated thorugh agriculture, animal husbandry,fisheries, horticulture, agribusiness.

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