The Peace Education Programme in Kenya

Mary Wanjiru Kangethe

Assistant Director of Education – Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Kenya
National Coordinator, Peace Education Programme
(Featured article: Issue #121 May 2015)

maryMinistry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) Kenya recognizes that education has the potential to exacerbate conflict or promote peace and has therefore adopted a conflict sensitive approach to the delivery of education and training in the country. The Peace Education Programme was introduced in 2008 against the backdrop of disputed presidential elections and subsequent post-election violence. The programme marked the education sector’s response to the crisis and served to reinforce previous efforts to promote peace through education.

Peace education is important in Kenya as the government has committed itself to provide basic and quality education to every child. In view of this, it is the country’s desire to provide a harmonious and safe learning environment for all. The country also emphasizes education as the foundation upon which a just society needs to be built. Kenya is also a signatory to Article 26 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which provides that education should promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations.

Objectives of Peace Education

The overall goal of the Peace Education Programme is to promote peaceful co-existence among members of the school community hence contributing to peace and national cohesion in the country. The programme also enhances the capacity of the education sector to promote peaceful coexistence through conflict sensitive policies and programming. Specific objectives of the programme are:

  • To promote conflict sensitive policies and programmes within the education sector.
  • To create awareness among learners on the causes of conflict and how to constructively resolve them in their daily lives.
  • To prepare learners to become good citizens in their communities, nation and the world and to equip them with skills that promote peace and human dignity at all levels of interaction.
  • To use the classroom as a springboard through which global values of positive inter-dependence, social justice and participation in decision making are learned and practiced.
  • To foster positive images that lead to respect for diversity to enable young people learn to live peacefully in diverse communities in the world.

Specific Interventions

1. Policy initiatives
The Ministry of Education Science and Technology developed the Education Sector Policy on Peace Education 2014. The policy provides for policy and curriculum initiatives, collaboration and partnerships and takes cognizance of emerging challenges in peace building e.g. radicalization and violent extremism.

kenya12. Capacity development
The peace education programme entails capacity building of various stakeholders in the education sector including education officials, head teachers and teachers. The trainings are conducted in a cascading manner from the national level all the way to the schools using a training manual on peace education. Education officials serve as the Trainers of Trainers and also coordinate interventions in their area of jurisdiction. So far about 4,500 education officials and teachers have been directly trained. The training is activity oriented and takes at least five days covering areas such as; understanding peace, peace education and conflict, perception and bias, conflict management skills and psychosocial intervention approaches.

A national monitoring exercise conducted by the Ministry in 2010 to assess the level of implementation of the programme at the school level revealed that peace education was not being effectively taught in the majority of the schools mainly due to lack of adequate capacity among teachers. In some of the schools, life skills education, which is one of the main carrier subjects, was not taught as it is not examined in national examinations.

To address these challenges the Ministry in collaboration with Arigatou International is currently piloting the ‘Learning To live Together Programme’ (LTLT) which is a value based interfaith programme in Tana River County, Tana Delta Sub-County. The aim of the pilot is to identify best practices in promotion of life skills and value based education especially the support required by teachers to be effective. The results of the pilot will inform an envisaged curriculum reform process in the country.

3. The Curriculum
Peace education is not a standalone subject. It is integrated into all the subjects with the main carriers being life skills education, social studies/history and government, religious education and languages. In 2008 the Ministry, in collaboration with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, UNHCR, UNICEF and other partners developed materials to strengthen the delivery of peace education in the classroom. These include:

  • Peace Education Workbook
  • Peace Education Teacher Activity Book for Classes 1,2,3
  • Peace Education Teacher Activity Book for Classes 4 ,5
  • Peace Education Teacher Activity Book for Classes 6,7,8
  • Peace education Programme: The Story Book

Schools also promote a culture of peace through co-curricular activities e.g. music, drama, clubs and community outreach/service.

kenya34. Advocacy Initiatives
In the run up to the general elections in Kenya, the Ministry of Education, Technology and Science in collaboration with the then Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs, the then Ministry of Provincial Administration and Office of the President, UNICEF and IGAD rolled out the National Peace Education Campaign (NPEC). This was an initiative within the Peace Education Programme that ran from October 2012 to February 2013. The campaign aimed at promoting peace before, during and after the elections and reached out to young people in and out of school and community members. The Theme of the campaign was: “Education for Peace: Making the Voices of Young Kenyans Heard.”

The campaign entailed the relay of a peace torch to all 47 counties in Kenya. Each county also held the national peace campaign forum that comprised a peace processi
on through the county headquarters, presentation of music and drama items with a theme on peace by the children to the public at a designated venue and tree planting. The national campaign was launched by the then president H.E. Mwai Kibaki.

5. Promoting Peace in Africa
Kenya’s Ministry of Education Science and Technology is the lead for the Inter Country Quality Node (ICQN) on Peace Education. The Inter Country Quality nodes are mechanisms established by the Bureau of Ministers within the Association for Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), to address specific challenges facing education in Africa. The Inter-Country Quality Node (ICQN) on Peace Education was the first ICQN to be established and was formally launched at a workshop held in Mombasa, Kenya from 14-16 September 2009. It provides a forum for exchange of knowledge and experiences on peace education among African countries. To date 15 African countries participate in the ICQN activities. Hosting of three international workshops with participation by technical officers and high level government officials and development of a consolidated work plan for promoting peace through education in Africa are some of the main achievements through the ICQN.

Collaboration and Partnerships
The success of the Peace education Programme is closely associated to the collaboration and partnerships embraced in the implementation process. The Ministry hosts stakeholder forums on an annual basis to facilitate sharing of lessons learned and best practices in the implementation of peace education initiatives and update the mapping of actors in peace education. This in turn enhances coordination of peace education actors and promotes creation of synergy in the implementation process. The stakeholder fora brings together UN agencies, other Ministries and Government agencies, faith based organizations and civil society. A national steering committee, with members nominated during the annual stakeholder fora takes forward the action points from the meetings.

Lessons Learned, Challenges and the Way Forward

Key lessons learnt through the implementation of the programme include:

  • Peace initiatives through the curriculum need to be supported by sector wide interventions that addressi issues of peace and conflict.
  • The dynamic nature of conflict calls for continuous change in the approaches used. Since 2008 the programme has mainly been preoccupied with addressing inter-community conflicts but currently it is also engaged in Countering violent extremism initiatives.
  • Teachers require consistent support through regular training and provision of appropriate materials to support them in the delivery of lessons.
  • Prompt and comprehensive initiatives that are consistent by the education sector have positive influence towards harmonious coexistence
  • Children and young people have powerful messages on peace that need to be given expression
  • Support of peace education by senior management is paramount for success

kenya2The peace education programme has been faced with some challenges. Though there has been effort to mainstream peace education in primary and secondary school curricular, this has not been done across the board. Despite the heavy investment in training of teachers, capacity gaps are still evident especially in the delivery of peace education at the classroom. Emphasis on academic subject at the expense of value based subjects has led to a situation where life skills is relegated to a second place hence not given the attention it deserves in schools. Peace education initiatives through the school often lack adequate community based interventions to support and reinforce the gains made. In the event violent conflicts there is weak coordination of psychosocial intervention due to lack of a response framework.

Going forward, the Ministry will strengthen peace education at all levels during the envisaged curriculum reform process. The Education Sector Policy on Peace Education will also be disseminated to the counties to facilitate effective implementation. The Ministry is also in preparing to implement an initiative on countering violent extremism in education institutions with the support of other Ministries and partners.

For further information:

About the Author: Mary Wanjiru Kangethe is an Assistant Director of Education in the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Kenya. She is the National coordinator of the Peace Education Programme in the Ministry and also the coordinator of the Inter-Country Quality Node (ICQN) on Peace Education under the Association for Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). The ICQN brings together 15 African countries.