Sunday, August 12th, 2018
Upper primary teachers will receive training on the new syllabus from April 2019, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development says.
KICD chief executive Julius Jwan said 177,000 lower primary school teachers have received training so far.
The competence-based curriculum focuses on skills and is expected to replace the 8-4-4 system of learning.
Dr Jwan was speaking on the sidelines of the 10th African Confederation of Principals conference in Mombasa on Sunday.
“When we prepare to rollout the curriculum in upper primary, training has to be in stages. We cannot train all the teachers at the same time,” he said.
“The focus is on wholesome education and not just schooling.”
Dr Jwan said head teachers have a duty to reduce emphasis on content in favour of sharpening the learners’ skills as spelt out in the ongoing curriculum reforms.
“No child is a failure. We are shifting from a system that encourages cramming to reproduce facts and pass examinations to a syllabus where every child’s unique skills are identified and nurtured,” he said.
He added that exemplary performance should not be pegged on how fast one covers the syllabus but how well a subject is understood.
Dr Jwan said doing so enables learners to internalise the objectives of the curriculum beyond national examinations.
This, he said, calls for heads to organise school programmes in a manner that guarantees quality learning.
“As far as serving the learners’ educational needs is concerned, the buck stops with head teachers,” Dr Jwan said.
The trial of the new syllabus has faced hiccups, including lack of guidelines on assessing a student’s skills.
A trade war pitting private investors, farmers and the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has intensified with Meru County Commissioner Wilfred Nyagwanga ordering a crackdown on tea hawking.
The order comes in the wake of a court battle between Murang’a farmers and government agencies enforcing the ban on tea hawking.
Last week, KTDA managers from Meru, led by the regional director Paul Ringera, met the county commissioner and resolved to launch a crackdown on anyone transporting tea outside designated factories.
At the centre of the storm is Njeru Industries, a private factory in Meru Town which has been accused of promoting tea hawking, theft and harvesting of low quality and rejected leaf.
KTDA also accuses the firm of operating a black tea processing line without a license.
But Njeru Industries managing director Henry Njeru said his company had obtained court orders barring anyone from preventing his workers from buying tea.
He accuses KTDA of using its monopoly to kill competition.
“We pay up to Sh30 per kilo and pay according to the farmer’s terms.
“Any attack on private investors, who are establishing manufacturing units and paying farmers above the market rate is clearly an act of economic sabotage. You cannot brand farmers hawkers when they decide where to sell their produce,” Mr Njeru said.
“The KTDA managers are trying to use criminal incidents which can be handled by police to kick us out of business.
There has been theft of tea over the years. It is unfair for KTDA to brand us hawkers yet we have invested over Sh350 million in setting up a processing plant.”
He said about 1,000 farmers had signed leaf supply agreements with his company without being coerced.
Farmers in Murang’a, Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Meru counties are being lured by private factories offering Sh25 per kilo, compared to Sh15 paid by KTDA.
The private buyers are also paying farmers in cash.
“Tea hawking is promoting theft from farms and during transportation. The farmers are selling to the private factory yet they have an agreement which binds them to supply to KTDA only.
“This affects their commitments in form of loans and farm inputs advanced by KTDA,” Mr Ringera said.
He said hawking would affect the quality of Kenyan tea and ultimately its price in the world market.
In Murang’a, farmers have resorted to selling their tea at night following arrests. Some have been charged in court.
A farmer, who sought anonymity, told the Nation they will continue selling their tea to private companies since the pay is good.
“We pick the tea during the day and keep it in our houses. We sell the tea leaves at night to avoid police patrols,” he said.
Following the arrests, tea farmers from Kanyenya-ini sued the DPP, Kangema OCPD and OCS and the Attorney-General for obstructing them from selling their crop to their preferred buyers. KTDA is enjoined as an interested party.
The past several months have brought to light bewildering scandals that have left us wondering when the camel’s back will finally break.
Singapore has on many occasions been used in contrast with Kenya’s economy. Since its independence, it has gradually grown to a highly developed market economy that is highly dependent on exports. Between 1965 and 1995, the South East Asian country’s economy achieved an estimated annual growth rate of six per cent.
Soon after Independence, Kenya’s GDP was ranked to be higher than Singapore’s. Its GDP in 1963 was $926.6 million, slightly higher than Singapore’s $917.2 million, according to the World Bank. But as Singapore continually sought to improve its systems, our country has had its fair share of economic sabotage, the greatest of them being corruption as white-collar thieves wasted and stole its resources with abandon.
With a corruption perception index (CPI) rank of six out of 180 last year, according to Transparency International, Singapore’s finance docket has implemented a dedicated budget website (www.singaporebudget.gov.sg) that offers budgeting information and citizens give their views.
It is also easier and more enticing for investors to set up businesses in Singapore, according to the global competitiveness report (2014-2015) by the World Economic Forum. TI gave Kenya a CPI of 145 out of 180 countries.
Kenya has been known to be a nightmare for prospective foreign investors. That not only denies the country potential revenue streams but also robs our unemployed youth viable opportunities to get employed and learn new skills
That is not to say Singapore has no corruption. In 2011, the former Singapore Land Authority deputy director and his manager were sentenced to 22 and 15 years in jail, respectively, for money laundering. Several other high-ranking government officials and civil servants have been jailed over corruption.
Corruption is also considered a serious problem in South Korea. In 2016, TI gave the East Asian country a CPI rank of 52 out of 176. Seoul has, nevertheless, made notable efforts in fighting corruption. In 2015, the prime minister resigned after barely two months in office over allegations of corruption.
In April, the former first female president, Park Geun-hye, was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment for multiple criminal charges — including bribery and abuse of office. She was widely celebrated during her tenure, even coming in 11th on the Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women in 2013.
Besides, Geun-hye, the daughter of former president and dictator Park Chung-hee, who was assassinated while in office in 1979, was the most powerful woman in Asia in 2014, when she was ranked the 46th most powerful person.
Kenya, with its many outrageous graft cases, is yet to show any fundamental action in dealing with high-profile suspects. Those who steal billions of shillings in taxpayers’ funds are transferred or elected to even higher positions.
How do we expect to see the end of corruption in a country where we reward wrongdoing?
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s articulation of food security as a pillar of his ‘Big Four’ agenda rightly invites debate on food (in)security in the country and policy options that could be deployed to guarantee reliable supply for everyone.
In fact, it is difficult to imagine how the other three pillars on manufacturing, affordable housing and universal health coverage could ever be achieved without food for all.
Several commentators have argued that Kenya’s food insecurity is largely a factor of inefficient redistribution systems, not necessarily low farm productivity per se. They cite innumerable incidences where it’s not uncommon to have one region facing an imminent hunger crisis while the other has bumper harvests.
Even more ironical, there have been instances where people who registered bumper harvests the previous season can hardly feed themselves in the next because of erratic rain patterns.
The more figurative have drawn attention to the contradiction that is increasing threat of obesity in urban Kenya and prevalent hunger in remote rural parts of the country.
However, there are inherent public policy and international trade dimensions to Kenya’s food insecurity that ought not to be ignored. Which is why, as Africa hosted the Brics summit of five major emerging economies last month in Johannesburg, for the second time, there were underlying questions over Brics-Africa ties.
Of the four Brics countries outside South Africa, China easily stands out in this regard — both for its sheer diplomatic presence and renewed economic commitment in Africa. In addition, the other Brics countries — Brazil, Russia and India — face deeper domestic and regional crises that it’s safe to assume that their interests in Africa outside South Africa remain remote for some time.
However, as recent history shows, China’s dominance in Africa has its downsides as well. It’s not uncommon to come across negative reports in many African countries regarding the Chinese or Chinese enterprises.
It’s just the other day when the Chinese-built and operated standard gauge railway (SGR) project in Kenya was reported attracting specific concerns over labour relations between Chinese and local workers and the railway’s economic viability after it posted a Sh10 billion loss in the first year.
But I think the real trigger points in Sino-African relations might eventually turn to how house-level concerns over food security (and safety) are handled at policy level between the Chinese and African governments.
In Kenya, the traditional open-access fisheries sector in Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean has largely collapsed due to over-fishing and poorly managed foreign competition. The common refrain across major local urban fish markets that I have unscientifically surveyed is that imported Chinese fish is cheaper than its locally produced equivalent.
This requires deeper policy intervention rather than leaving it to pure market dynamics, which then-Trade Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed was recently quoted as alluding to.
Which begs the logical question: How can Kenya and China align their political and trade interests around food security in the country?
There are no easy answers from an international trade and policy standpoint; however, a lot can be done from a strategic international relations one. First, to support President Kenyatta’s Blue Economy focus, China could voluntarily cap its fish exports to Kenya whilst increasing its investments in local fish farming (aquaculture).
Second, the two could urgently invest in subsidising communities and enterprises diversifying into cage farming in traditional open-source waters such as Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean. This is in line with the practice in China, where fish farms are now a leading production line.
Third, as part of essential gradual capacity building, Kenya could introduce a compulsory joint-venture policy in its Indian Ocean exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and Lake Victoria fisheries, where there is presence of Chinese enterprises, as a condition for fishing licences. This is a policy that the Chinese government has innovatively deployed.
Finally, a transparent joint investment in monitoring and surveillance of illegal fishing in the Indian Ocean that has been disproportionately blamed on Chinese deep sea fishing vessels will go a long way in building long-term trust and confidence.
Three Kenyan players are among the 12 dismissed for attempted age cheating ahead of the Africa Under-17 Championship qualifier that started on Saturday in Tanzania.
An MRI scan by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) caught the young men as Kenya prepared for their opening campaign on Monday against South Sudan. That followed a similar scrutiny by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) before the team left for Tanzania.
The shameful act not only puts the country in the global limelight for the wrong reasons, but also exposes the FKF on its sincerity in addressing age cheating in local football — an issue that people talk about in hushed tones, with FKF not addressing it firmly.
This is not the first time Kenya has been caught cheating. CAF banned its Under-20 team in 2016 after overage players were fielded in their 1-1 draw with Sudan in the Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations qualifier.
The Under-17 team was banned for two years by the continental body due to age cheating after they eliminated Ghana 3-2 on aggregate in the Africa Youth Championship qualifier in 2003.
This vice has also, in the long run, left many players not recovering from injuries on time after receiving the wrong treatment.
With Kenya’s enormous football talent, FKF should not tolerate age cheating. The federation does not have functioning structures to help the country to develop the talent, hence leaving players to exploit loopholes in age control. In developed footballing countries, there are leagues at every age group, which are run professionally and young players sprout from every season. You can rarely witness incidents of age cheating with such structures in place.
The FKF must protect our players from this killer of careers.
Great generals do not distinguish themselves in peacetime. They do so, unfortunately, in the dust, smoke and blood of ordeal combat. The Daily Nation, an organ with more than half a century’s experience in fighting corruption and dictatorship, wishes to extend a hand of comfort and support to President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is experiencing the pains of doing the right thing.
On Sunday, the President said he had lost dear friends because of his uncompromising stand on corruption and impunity. But if determined action is not taken to restore the rule of law and curb graft, Kenya will not survive as a prosperous young democracy.
The President’s complaining friends are in the minority. The majority of Kenyans are united in their support for the war on corruption. Leaders of the Opposition Raila Odinga, Moses Wetang’ula and Musalia Mudavadi have voiced strong support for the campaign to rid the country of corruption, once and for all.
Mr Odinga went a little further and identified Parliament as what he termed the weak link in the fight against graft. As we speak, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has directed the Privileges Committee to investigate claims that some MPs were bribed to shoot down the report on illegal sugar imports tabled in Parliament last week. This is the lowest the House can go and everything must be done to redeem the institution.
Parliament is the architect of laws and its members are required to live them and exhibit high public morality. So it is atrocious to turn the House into a market where MPs are paid to vote against what some influential fellows consider damning against them. It is worse that the report was about an essential household commodity. If there is any truth in the claims that the imported sugar was contaminated and that MPs trashed it, then what they have done is to condemn citizens to serious health risks.
In the past, claims have been made that MPs are compromised by lobbyists who organise for them workshops and meetings in posh tourist hotels and lavish them with cash and gifts. But now, it seems fellows have become so audacious as to organise and dish out in cash in envelopes to MPs within the precincts of Parliament, which is a total disgrace. What has since happened goes beyond the committees — it is the full House. Some individuals even approach some MPs and use them to bribe others and get them to vote in a particular way. This strikes right at the heart of the House.
For the integrity and image of the House to be restored — especially in the interest of the majority of MPs who are honest — the Speaker needs to invite the Director of Criminal Investigations come to the aid of the National Assembly. All those fighting corruption have the support of the country. Mr Muturi should join them.
The recent sentencing of Ruth Kamande and Erastus Odhiambo has made me question whether there is any uniformity in sentencing when it comes to capital punishment.
Both cases involved domestic violence — albeit the facts differed in one way or another. The two overriding issues for me are that both defendants were first-time offenders and claimed to be remorseful.
However, one case led to the death sentence and the other a minimum prison term of 20 years. It is quite challenging to try and understand what criterion was used to reach such differing sentences.
Ruth’s matter was constantly in the news — print, visual and digital formats — much more than that of Erastus’s or any other murder case going on at the time. This is a case that was unsafe from the word go, given the level of exposure it got in the media.
The influence ‘trial by media’ has in a case cannot be underestimated. The judges and prosecutors are human and, clearly, also malleable to the pressures imposed by the views of the masses.
There were many armchair ‘experts’ who constantly took to social media to share their views on the Kamande case. That in itself left the offender exposed and vulnerable. One cannot help but wonder whether miscarriage of justice was inevitable in a case that had been tried and concluded elsewhere prior to the formal court hearing.
The issue of domestic abuse is one that also has many foggy areas in as far as the law is concerned. In the minds of most perpetrators, a slap here and there is alright. However, it is a matter that is much more complicated. It has branches of physical violence, emotional and psychological abuse, coercion and control, financial abuse and many other forms of abuse to be added on as we learn more about the matter.
Provocation, when it comes to domestic violence, is one issue that has been problematic. However, a judge worth his salt should determine, all factors considered, the level of provocation involved.
To many victims or survivors of domestic abuse, provocation could be in form of a slow burner of emotional and psychological abuse. In other cases, it could be one instance of provocation that could lead to a fatality in a fit of anger.
In my opinion, provocation in homicide cases would need to be carefully scrutinised so that it meets the threshold of intention to murder. Death is an emotive issue, much more so in situations of domestic violence. Nonetheless, it is important to rise above the broad understanding of murder and look at the minutiae of details that led to murder in that situation.
In some cases, homicide in domestic abuse has been linked to mental health impairment of perpetrators. It is, therefore, also crucial to fully grasp the mental state of the offenders before, during and after the incident to determine whether, indeed, the issue at hand would qualify to be murder, manslaughter or assault.
The mental impairment factor is also a rather challenging one. There is the whole notion of temporary insanity, which is possible in cases of provocation. However, there is also a clear case of having an offender who may, indeed, have had mental health impairment such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, psychopathy or sociopathy.
Mental health in a domestic violence setting is one area that has not been fully understood and needs attention to save many more lives from deranged violent partners.
In the cases of Ruth and Erastus, the difference in sentencing for nearly similar offence is of concern and has the potential to lead to further miscarriage of justice. For a young offender of murder, and a remorseful one for that matter, it is better to set charges that consider the fact that she would have time to reflect and be deterred from repeating the crime. In that, they can be rehabilitated to become useful members of the society.
The two cases challenge the fairness in the due process of the law. There is a need to review our sentencing guidelines to avoid further confusion and injustice. Death is the ultimate sentence and, in case of mistakes, it is one difficult sentence to undo.
The other disparity is in the confusion as to whether capital punishment should even be handed down in Kenya, when there has been consensus for it to be outlawed. It is more than 30 years since the last person was hanged in Kenya. It is also simply unjust to let people wallow in perpetual state of anxiety once the death sentence is passed but spend years waiting to be executed.
There is a need for urgent reform to review the death sentence and give clarity to judges and magistrates as it has the greatest potential of leading to miscarriage of justice. In itself, the death penalty should be outlawed. It is barbaric and inhumane.
Over the past couple of days, we have seen a severe and deeply dangerous escalation on the Gaza-Israel border, with reports of dozens of casualties on both sides.
More than 180 rockets and mortar shells from Gaza have hit Israel, with 11 reported injuries including one woman with serious injuries. Gaza was hit more than 200 times throughout Wednesday night and into Thursday.
By the early hours of Thursday morning, one man had been killed inside Gaza, and a nine-month pregnant woman and her 18-month toddler were killed, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza. Her husband was injured in that attack in Deir al-Baleh.
While a ceasefire was agreed Thursday night, fears are still growing that we could be on the brink of another large-scale conflict, with serious concerns for the physical and mental wellbeing of children who get caught up in the violence.
Maher Abdullah, a Senior Education Officer for Save the Children in Gaza, said that situation was extremely fragile.
“My children were terrified – they didn’t sleep. Some of the airstrikes were so close that the building shook like it was an earthquake.
“I try to tell my youngest ones that it is fireworks and they should not be afraid, but they don’t believe me and know something is very wrong.
On the Israeli side, large tracts of open farmland were also hit, and warning sirens rang late into the night, with authorities suggesting that they may have to evacuate communities living near Gaza due to the latest escalation.
Tom Krift, Save the Children’s Middle East and Eastern Europe Regional Director, called on both sides to introduce a lasting ceasefire and return to negotiations.
“The most recent escalation is extremely concerning and we strongly condemn violence by all sides.
“All sides must take urgent steps to protect children and families in both Gaza and Israel from harm and civilians on both sides deserve to live in safety and dignity.
“To ensure this happens we need to see a lasting ceasefire, with all parties coming together to find a durable solution to the crisis. This includes, putting an end to the long-standing blockade, as lifting it will be essential to establishing a durable peace, reconstruction, recovery, and longer-term sustainable solution.”
Save the Children is deeply concerned about the mental health impact that the ongoing violence is having on children. Our research, conducted earlier this year, found that feelings of depression, hyperactivity, a preference for being alone, and aggression were reported by 95 percent of children in Gaza.
The combination of these symptoms is consistent with deep psychological distress, with our research indicating that Gaza was already on the brink of a mental health crisis, even before the latest escalation.
Our research found that for children, the threat of conflict, the fear of bombs, and the constant insecurity caused by the unstable political situation were the biggest source of stress, with 60 percent of caregivers saying it was taking a toll.
Additionally, aircraft sounds were cited as the single biggest source of fear in 78 percent of children.
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The performances by universities at the Kenya National Music Festival on Saturday and Sunday showed that they have come of age. They showed remarkable improvement in the quality and level of performances, which led to stiff competition.
This is unlike half a decade ago, when they seemed to perform just to be seen to have participated.
Among the universities that impressed the audience at the Dedan Kimathi University auditorium were KCA University, Mt Kenya and Gretsa.
KCA university also thrilled the audience with Luo sacred folk song, Gur Mar Yesu, which spoke of the suffering Jesus Christ endured and his crucifixion to save mankind.
Other universities that participated were Dedan Kimathi, Kenyatta, Moi, Masinde Muliro, Maasai Mara and Nairobi.
Teacher training colleges (TTCs) from the Mount Kenya Region outshone their colleagues in the African traditional group dance with dances from the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru categories. Thogoto, Meru, St Mark Kigari and Aberdares teachers training colleges dominated these categories. But that was to be expected, since the students usually choose dances that are popular locally.
The TTCs also presented gave impressive renditions of golden oldies by renowned greats like Daudi Kabaka and Fadhili William, among others. The class attracted a high number of entries, including Kenya Technical Training College, Narok, Asumbi, Kibabii, Igoji and Kigari TTCs.
Primary schools ended their performances on Saturday with lively African folk tunes, paving the way for secondary schools and colleges, which took the stage from yesterday, until the festival ends on Wednesday.
Popular gospel, cultural and instrumental classes will be staged today. The music festival is a good place to spend time and learn about Kenyan and African music, dances, instruments and costumes, said the festival’s National Chairman, Mr Peter Wanjohi.
The finalists concert, featuring the winners in all categories, will be held on Thursday. Education CS Amina Mohamed and Deputy President William Ruto are expected to attend.
On Friday, the winners will be hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State Lodge in Sagana
Mr Wanjohi urged Kenyans to turn up in large numbers for the finalists’ concert.
The festival, which features participants from primary schools, colleges and universities, is billed the largest music extravaganza in East and Central Africa.
Mobile phone use may affect a teenager’s ability to preserve memories, research has shown.
The study on a group of 700 teenagers in Switzerland showed that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) or mobile signal waves have adverse effects on the development of memory performance.
The most common source of RF-EMF exposure to the brain is the mobile phone.
The popularity of the gadget has spurred the rapid evolution of information and communication technology.
Though several studies have been conducted to identify potential health effects related to RF-EMF, their results have not been convincing.
In the latest study by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), the waves were reported to have an effect on particular brain regions during mobile phone use.
The study was conducted by Swiss TPH in collaboration with the European Union project christened GERoNiMO, which aims to improve knowledge of how RF-EMF affects health.
The “Health Effects Related to Mobile phone use in adolescent” study investigated the relationship between exposure to RF-EMF and development of memory performance of the teens in the course of one year.
Participants, aged between 12 and 17, were recruited from seventh to ninth public school grades where Swiss-German is spoken.
Findings from the study were published on July 23, 2018 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
The research investigated the connection between exposure to RF-EMF from mobile devices and memory performance in the adolescents.
A report on a similar study involving 1,400 teens was published in the scientific journal Environment International in 2015.
In addition, more recent information on the absorption of RF-EMF in adolescent brains during different types of wireless communication device use has come to light.
The study found that the collective RF-EMF brain exposure from mobile phone use may have a negative effect on the development of symbolic or figural memory performance in young people, confirming the results of the 2015 study.
Figural memory, the association between images and literal words and names, is mainly located in the right hemisphere of the brain.
Association with RF-EMF was more pronounced in adolescents using mobile phones on the right side of the head.
“This may suggest that RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed associations,” Prof Martin Röösli, the head of Environmental Exposures and Health at Swiss TPH, said.
He added that other features of mobile phone use such as sending text messages, playing games or browsing the Internet result in insignificant RF-EMF exposure to the brain and are not associated with the development of memory performance.
“A unique feature of this study is the use of objectively collected mobile phone user data from phone operators,” Prof Röösli said.
The academic added that more research is necessary to disqualify the role of other causes of memory failure in teenagers.
“The results could have been affected by puberty, which affects mobile phone use and a participant’s perceptive and behavioural state,” he said.
“It is not yet clear how RF-EMF could potentially affect the brain processes or how relevant our findings are in the long-term.”
He advised mobile phone users to reduce the risk of RMF-EF by using headphones.
“Potential risks to the brain can be minimised by using headphones or the loud speaker while calling, in particular when network quality is low and the mobile phone is functioning at maximum power,” the professor said.