The Challenges Of The Twenty First Century Education Essay

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Introduction

This chapter reviews the relevant literature used in this study in a thematic and systematic manner. It begins with reviewing texts related to the contemporary local and global challenges. It then discusses the national goals of education in Kenya relating them to the demands of the 21st century. Teacher education in Kenya is then reviewed and finally the system of education in Kenya is examined.

2.2.0 The challenges of the twenty first century

The 21st Century has been conceived as: The age of 'Globalization', the age of 'Knowledge Economy', and the 'Information age'. Globalization refers to the contemporary social reality, which is characterized by change, uncertainty, unpredictability, complexity, interdependence and diversity. According to Giddens (1990) and Albrow (1994), it refers to the process by which human relations are increasingly being intensified. As a result, economic, political, cultural and social distinctions are becoming less and less inhibitive. Advancement, especially in the information and telecommunication sectors has compressed time and space and the world is gradually becoming a borderless forum for human interaction popularly known as the global village.

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The educational challenges in a globalized world include:

ensuring that learners acquire the technological skills that enable them to access the global information and telecommunication networks,

transforming learner attitudes and dispositions to enable them adapt to change and uncertainty,

fostering character traits in learners that make them functional in a cross-cultural and democratic setting. Such traits include open-mindedness, tolerance and intellectual autonomy,

enhancing learner's capacity and attitude to think critically and creatively.

Knowledge has become the most important factor in economic development in a globalized world, hence the use of the term "Knowledge economy" to refer to the contemporary global economy. Consequently, "the ability of a society to produce, select, adapt, commercialise, and use knowledge is critical for sustained economic growth and improved living standards" (World Bank, 2002). Education needs to go beyond merely informing learners. Learners have to be enabled to learn on their own, make sense of and apply knowledge innovatively. Learners, therefore, need to take charge of their thinking and direct it towards solving problems as wells as formulating and pursuing desired goals. Information and telecommunication technologies that facilitate and support knowledge-based activities have become extremely useful. Information has become easily accessible with the use of the internet hence the use of the term "information age" to refer to the 21st century. Merely consuming information uncritically is dangerous in a globalized age. Education should therefore enable learners to select, interrogate, evaluate and utilize information efficiently.

2.2.1 The global challenges

According to Haag (1982) education systems in the world have expanded quantitatively rather than qualitatively making them unable to address current social problems. Although a lot of resources have been devoted to education, it appears like the systems of education have been ineffective in addressing social ills like inequality, intolerance, resistance to change, crime and violation of human rights among others. These social ills manifest themselves in rising levels of poverty, ethnic and racial conflicts and violation of human rights in many parts of the world. Ward and McCotter (2004) argue that developing thinking skills in educational institutions, though necessary, is inhibited by inappropriate teaching methods used by teachers, ineffective evaluation procedures and rigorous overload of the curriculum. Other negative factors include ineffective educational policies that emphasize content and structure of education while neglecting quality and process of education. Jelinek (1978) refers to the dominant expository methods of instruction as didacticism in which it is assumed that education is an act of depositing knowledge into learners who are mere depositories. The process of instruction is lifeless, petrified, motionless, static and compartmentalised and thus strange to the experience of the learners. The approach is irrelevant to reconstruction of the experience of the learners since they are considered to know nothing. Ultimately the approach tends to turn humans into automatons and therefore negates their dignity and abilities as human beings. Without development of thinking skills, graduates from educational institutions are observed to be limited in analytical, creative and innovative abilities that are essential in the modern knowledge based world of work.

Leat (1999) blames inability of education systems to address contemporary challenges on faulty academic cultures and traditions. For instance, attainment of good grades and certificates using whatever means is valued as opposed to transformation of learners into effective agents of change in society. Unhealthy competition among learners is tolerated instead of developing the culture of cooperation and mutual responsibility. Rigid adherence to existing academic cultures inhibits ability to respond to change. Unhealthy competition among learners promotes antagonism and undermines team spirit. According to Perkins (1990) the culture in most educational institutions is characterized by minimal informative feedback and emphasis on traditional ways of doing things. This diminishes the exercise of individual initiative and choice. Consequently learners are denied an opportunity to develop essential characteristic of democratic citizenship. Such characteristics include respect for dialogue, freedom of expression and self-determination through individual choice.

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Barrow et al. (2006) reports that a study done in India revealed that the main challenges facing teacher education include meeting children's specific learning needs, respecting students' cultural and socio-economic context and involving parents and communities in school activities. The teachers therefore require interpersonal and counseling skills that can enable them to empathetically discern the learning needs of pupils. The teachers also need to be able to deal with diversity of learners and forge school-community collaboration. Douglass (2006) perceives preparation of employable graduates as the main challenge of education in the 21st century. According to him, emphasis on employability has led to other challenges. For instance, there are sharp divisions between scientific-technological academic disciplines on the one hand and social science and humanities on the other. He argues that there is an overemphasis on the value of scientific-technological disciplines leading to bifurcation of knowledge. According to NCCPPE(2008), the main challenges that education must confront in the world today include: conservation of the environment and sustainability of natural resources; the provision of health care; renewal of economic vitality; coping with change through learning; promoting core human values like justice, peace and equity and protecting human rights.

This study endeavoured to find out the extent to which global challenges mentioned above impact on Kenya. It further sought to establish whether and how the system of PTE in Kenya was responsive to them. The study also designed a framework by which the challenges can be classified for effective examination. For instance, the following categories of challenges among others were be included in the framework: cognitive, cultural, political, social, emotional, economic, ethical, technological, and religious. Cognitive challenges include obstacles that hinder effective thinking. Such obstacles render learners incapable of analytical, evaluative and creative thinking. Such learners merely copy and reproduce the ideas of other people without being sensitive to context. Cultural challenges include stereotypes and prejudices that are embodied in traditions and norms of particular social groups. These traditions are passed on from one generation to another without critical scrutiny. In addition cultural beliefs and practices tend to be ethnocentric. As such they promote conflicts and misunderstanding among social groups. Political challenges include ideologies and policies that are designed to facilitate acquisition and maintenance of political power. Often such ideologies are propagated in a competitive way without regard to sufficient analysis, evaluation and fair-mindedness.

Social challenges include the need to accommodate diversity in the contemporary setting that is increasingly becoming multicultural. There is need for tolerance, open-mindedness and humility in interpersonal interactions. Emotional challenges have to do with inability to understand and deal with one's own feeling as well as the feelings of others. This is especially so in a social context that is dynamic, uncertain and stressful. Economic challenges include scarcity of resources and controversial methods of distributing the resources. These challenges are compounded by the increasing needs and wants characterised by the consumerist lifestyles. Ethical challenges arise from disagreements on principles of right and wrong leading to ethical relativism. Such relativism makes moral values difficult to apply across board leading to ethical confusion.

Technological challenges include inability to control and manage the use of technology in a way that benefits society without endangering wellbeing. Such challenges include checking abuse of the internet, regulating the mass media and ensuring that nuclear technology does not get into the hands of terrorists. Religious challenges include animosity among different faiths that sometimes expresses itself in overt violent practices. Religious fanatics often engage in breach of human rights and criminal activities in the name of God. All these challenges cannot be effectively addressed unless education empowers the learners and society at large to think for themselves, analyse and evaluate issues, question beliefs and claims as well as develop the ability to creatively solve problems.

2.2.2 The challenges in Africa

Assie'-Lumumba (2006) perceives the debt burden, ethnic violence, armed conflicts and the scourge of HIV and AIDS as the most visible challenges that impact education in Africa. What is needed is an education system that can empower Africans to participate in the production and application of knowledge relevant in addressing these challenges and promote broad societal advancement. In Ghana, the need to develop thinking skills among learners has been recognized as a viable way of addressing contemporary challenges facing Africa. However in practice, the development of such skills has not been given adequate attention (Acheampong, 2001; Hill, 2000). There exists a mismatch between the professed value of thinking skills in education and actual efforts to develop such skills in teacher training institutions. According to Owu-Ewie (2007), classroom environment in many educational institutions in Ghana inhibit thinking in students. The teachers have been observed to be autocratic and rigid in imposing their views on students. The opinions of students are disrespected and discarded thus discouraging learner participation, curiosity and creativity. Teachers make poor use of questioning and motivation and use the lecture method predominantly. The education system fosters rote learning, drilling and exam orientation. Such a system does not facilitate a healthy teacher-learner interaction.

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According to Barrow et al (2006), studies done in Namibia and Nigeria reveal additional challenges facing education in Africa. In Namibia, although educational policies are strongly based on active learning and learner-centered theoretical foundation, in practice, these lofty theories are not effectively implemented. The educational policies are poorly understood, interpreted and executed. The study findings support school-based teacher professional development programs, associated with whole-school improvement programs, as very promising ways of increasing understanding and effective implementation of active-learning policies. In Nigeria, religious tensions and economic empowerment are the challenges that education needs to address. Teachers have therefore to be empowered to facilitate inter-faith harmony, creativity and self-reliance among learners. In Ethiopia, poor quality of education, insufficient financing, lack of equity and poor management are the key challenges facing education (Ethiopian National Agency for UNESCO, 2001). Consequently, the ongoing educational reform encompasses every aspect of the educational system- the curricula, teacher training, educational inputs, educational finance, organization and management, structure of education, career structure of teachers, and evaluation. The reform is aimed at total restructuring of the educational system. This study examined the challenges above and related them to those in Kenya and the rest of the world. It also compared the strategies employed to address the challenges with a view to reconstructing a more responsive approach to the challenges relevant to PTE in Kenya.

2.2.3 The challenges in Kenya

In Kenya, some of the 21st century challenges are HIV & AIDS, gender awareness, and sensitivity to human rights (K.I.E., 2004a and 2004b). Others include poverty, crime, drug abuse, and unemployment. These challenges require that education empowers the learner to reflect and respond to them pro-actively. While informing the learners about these problems is important, empowerment of the learner demands a transformation that transcends the cognitive dimension to include all other faculties of the human person. This study explored these non-cognitive dimensions such as the creative, cultural, ethical and social among others.

According to RCE (2007), sustainable development in Kenya (as in any other country) is complex since it encompasses social issues such as peace and security, human rights, gender equality, cultural diversity and intercultural understanding. Other issues include poor governance, corruption, increased incidences of diseases, erosion of cultural values and morals, among others. The economic issues include corporate social responsibility and accountability, ethical marketing, increasing levels of poverty and the widening gap between rich and poor. The other issues include trends of unsustainable production and consumption leading to inefficiency and wastefulness, poor enforcement of policies and regulations governing production and marketing. Environmental challenges include the energy, nutritional and other domestic needs of an expanding population, unsustainable use of natural resources (water, land), rural/urban migration, climate change, rural development, urbanization, disaster prevention and mitigation concerns. This study examines the extent to which these concerns are addressed in PTE with specific reference to pedagogical approaches employed.

Abagi and Odipo (1997) argue that the operation of primary education system in Kenya faces the problem of inefficiency. Low completion rates and national pupil-teacher ratio make inefficiency evident. In addition, teaching-learning time was found not to be utilized efficiently in primary schools. The factors that may be responsible for inefficiencies include: ineffective education policies and management processes, misallocation of resources to various educational levels; school based factors such as teachers' attitudes, time utilization, school environment; and household based factors such as poverty. The inefficiencies identified above lead one to question the quality and relevance of education in Kenya. While Abagi and Odipo (1997) discuss inefficiency from the point of view of mismatch between resource inputs and desired output in terms of qualified graduates able to contribute to national development, this study explored another dimension of inefficiency which involves discrepancy between pedagogical approaches and the achievement of educational goals and objectives. The focus therefore was on the process of teaching and learning in addition to other material resources employed to pursue the achievement of educational goals and objectives.

2.3.0 Global responsiveness to contemporary issues

Shah, (1997) discusses the implications of globalization in the 21st century which include information revolution, dynamic demand of relevant skills, uncertainty of a borderless world economy, and intense competition among others. He suggests that responsiveness to this reality demands a paradigm shift in the management of human relationships in all spheres of life. Although he takes a political perspective and dwells on how a shift in modes of governance needs to be effected, this study adapts Shah's ideas to a globalized educational context. For instance the shift from management to leadership in political governance can be equated to the shift from authoritarian teaching to facilitative teaching in education. In both cases, control (of citizens/learners by politicians/teachers) is discouraged while participation, consultation and involvement by all parties is encouraged. This change is so fundamental that Shah refers to it as a "cultural transformation". He describes it as follows:

The culture of governance is also slowing changing from a bureaucratic to a participatory mode of operation; from command and control to accountability for results; from being internally dependent to being competitive and innovative; from being closed and slow to being open and quick; and from that of intolerance from risk to allowing freedom to fail or succeed (Shah, 1997)

While responsiveness as described above is desirable and even necessary in the world today, it is not easy to accomplish. In developing countries for instance, the reform of the public sector has been attempted in many countries without tangible results. Shah (1997) regards attempts to reform the public sector in many developing countries as an illusion or dream. The command and control orientation is so entrenched that developing a client orientation that emphasizes collaboration and service is difficult to achieve. Consequently human relationships are devoid of a sense of responsibility and mutual respect. Relating these ideas to primary teacher education, responsiveness would mean enabling learners to be self-reliant and self-disciplined as well as actively engaging both teachers and learners as partners in the learning process.

Leithwood et al (1994) assert that modern education systems have to address broader and complex goals, use a diversity of forms of instruction and strategies for learning to cater for diverse clientele as opposed to the traditional youthful learners. In addition, educational institutions will need technical resources to facilitate independent decision making and collaboration with other agencies. Future institutions of education will need greater decentralization of authority, empowerment of staff, and increased accountability to the stake holders they serve. Much effort will be employed to review the content of the curriculum and the process of instruction in order to enhance learning as well as forge useful links between the educational institutions and their environment. Specifically the following responses will be needed:

provision of higher order thinking skills like analysis, evaluation and creativity.

use of flexible client-centred forms of instruction and willingness to collaborate with other educational agencies.

Addressing of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity and tensions and

Increasing respect for the rights of individual, ability, race, age, sex etc which enhances equity as an education goal as well as equal access to knowledge.

Beyer (1997) asserts that the best way to respond to contemporary challenges is to empower learners to learn. This implies facilitation of efficient and effective thinking. Such learning involves careful development of learner inclinations as well as their abilities to think skilfully. Barrow et al. (2006) reports that a research carried out in India suggest that one way of facilitating responsiveness among learners is to create a learning environment in which children are motivated to participate actively and are encouraged to think beyond their own context. This concurs with Beamon's (1997) and Beyer's (1997) view that the classroom environment should be motivating and provide opportunities for learners to use their cognitive and creative abilities. In order to develop the thinking skills of learners, the teachers need to use cognitive instruction approaches and learner-centred strategies which stimulate thinking. This study explored such approaches and strategies and endeavoured to find out whether they were being used in PTE in Kenya.

Kea et al. (2006) recommend multicultural teacher education preparation as a viable way of promoting responsiveness to the challenges of the 21st century. Teachers who have learned culturally responsive pedagogy are believed to be more confident and effective in instructing children from diverse social, cultural, religious and economic backgrounds. Culturally responsive pedagogy involves adapting the content of instruction and teaching styles, curriculum, methodology, and instructional materials responsive to students' values and cultural norms. Thus, the ultimate challenge for teacher educators is to prepare reflective practitioners who can connect, commit, and practice an ethos of care with diverse students and their families.

According to Douglass (2006), responsiveness to contemporary challenges requires cross-cultural and human rights education. Governments should ensure that their primary and secondary educational systems provide for a balance and integration of national history and identity formation with knowledge of other cultures, religions, and regions. Educational approaches should be suitable for transforming the values of young people, their perceptions and knowledge about other civilizations, cultures and peoples across all regions. Critical thinking should be promoted in order to enhance fair-mindedness and objectivity in a world where information is being generated and disseminated at an amazing rate. Critical thinking is essential for analysing, evaluating and applying information. It is useful in combating misperceptions, prejudices, inaccuracies and outright lies among others. Critical thinking enhances the learner's ability to separate fact from opinion, to evaluate information for bias, to construct and deconstruct meaning logically and relevantly. Such skills are important for promoting tolerance, mutual respect and responsible citizenship. This study examines the responsive approaches discussed above in the light of the Kenyan context. It aims at developing and recommending a comprehensive proposal of responsive pedagogies for teacher education that are suitable for addressing contemporary issues in Kenya.

According to NCPPHE (2008) the most important educational goal is to facilitate learning by students and the society in general and thus create a learning society. In such a society, learning is a way of life and is therefore life-long. Optimized learning is that which helps strengthen democratic and civic institutions in the nation. This concept of learning extends beyond the education of students in classrooms to include education's impact on societal organizations, businesses, corporations, and cultures. This view is also adopted by Partnership for the 21st century (2004), which is a conglomeration of public and private partnership focusing on improving education in the 21st century. The partnership reached out to hundreds of educators, business leaders and employers to determine a vision for learning in the 21st century, to reach a consensus on the definition of 21st century skills, knowledge and expertise which will enable learners to thrive in contemporary world. This work endeavoured to bridge the gap between the knowledge and skills most students learn today in school and the knowledge and skills required in the 21st century communities and workplaces.

The critical knowledge and skills identified by Partnership for the 21st century (2004) are learning and innovation skills (creativity and innovation, Critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration), information, media and technology skills (information literacy, media literacy and ICT literacy) as well as life and career skills (flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability, leadership and responsibility). The partnership also identified interdisciplinary themes which summarises the content that students should learn in the 21st century. These themes include global awareness, civic literacy, health literacy and financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy. This study used these themes, knowledge and skills to evaluate the success of teacher education in Kenya in equipping primary school teachers to prepare pupils for the demands of the 21st century.

2.3.1 Responsiveness to contemporary issues in Africa

According to Barrow et al. (2006) research carried out in Nigeria indicated that responsive approaches in education in Africa should aim at fostering moral values such as patience, tolerance, friendliness, compassion, empathy and fair-mindedness. In addition teaching methods and strategies should create and sustain a stimulating learning environment. Teachers need to use a variety of teaching methods to reach students at different levels of ability. In Namibia, the research recommended teachers' reflection on their practice in order to seek way of improving teaching and learning. Learner-centred teaching, variation of teaching methods and strategies and positive teacher attributes like kindness and courtesy were also argued to contribute to responsiveness to contemporary issues in education.

Ethiopian National Agency for UNESCO (2001) describes responsive education from the Ethiopian perspective as characterized by access to basic education for all, production of responsible citizens who can solve problems and cooperate with others in productive socio-economic activities. Other characteristics of responsive education include equity, community participation in education, and suitability of academic disciplines to the needs of the country. Quality and quantity need to accompany each other in educational matters; for instance, new educational institutions should be established and the existing ones strengthened in order to produce professionals at a quantity and quality levels that match the requirements of the country.

2.3.2 Responsiveness to contemporary issues in Kenya

In Kenya, attempts at making education responsive to contemporary issues and challenges is reflected in the various educational reports that have been generated since independence (Republic of Kenya, 1964, 1976, 1981, 1988 and 1999). This is evident in the review of the said reports below.

The Ominde Report (Republic of Kenya, 1964) was the first commission of independent Kenya to address matters of education. It made a lasting contribution by articulating, among other issues, the goals of education in Kenya which are reinforced in the commission reports that followed. Among the recommendations that the report gave included that: partnership should be forged between government and regional and local authorities in the planning and administration of education; educational policy should be consciously directed towards promoting national unity; religious instruction should be handled as an academic subject on educational lines dissociated from the sectarian objectives of any religious group; primary education should provide training in the rudiments of citizenship; education should be responsive to contemporary needs and modern educational practice; education should be child-cantered and child study experts should be included as lecturers in teacher training colleges. The Ominde Report (Republic of Kenya, 1964) identified a number of issues of which the following are relevant to this study and remain relevant to the current situation in Kenya:

Education in Kenya should foster as sense of nationhood and promote nationhood. The post 2007 election violence revealed the fact that nationhood and national unity have not yet been successfully achieved in Kenya(Republic of Kenya, 2008a) and education, to be relevant must develop among learners and teachers alike patriotism, tolerance and mutual social responsibility.

Education should serve the people and the needs of Kenya without discrimination. It should develop in learners the traits of fair-mindedness, empathy and justice.

Education should enable learners at all levels to adapt to change. This requires analytical and evaluative skills that enable one to examine one's context, identify and define problems clearly and accurately. It also requires creative skills to enable one to formulate and implement relevant solutions to problems.

The teaching methods prevalent in educational institutions after independence were faulted by the Ominde Report (Republic of Kenya, 1964) because they neglected learner participation, imagination and understanding and emphasised drilling and authoritarian teaching. Little attempt was made to adapt instruction to the needs of learners. In teacher training colleges, few lecturers were well grounded on the crucial question of how children learn or fail to learn. The report appealed for a paradigm shift in teaching and learning as indicated in the following:

We do not believe that the students will effectively break loose from the old bookish, rote methods until they have themselves shared in the exhilaration of autonomous learning and have discovered how much more complete is their final mastery (Republic of Kenya, 1964, p.116)

Gachathi Report (Republic of Kenya, 1976) expounded on the implications of the ideology of African Socialism on education in Kenya. The Report recommended the following issues which remain relevant to the contemporary Kenyan context: Education needs to continue promoting national unity in order to address social and economic challenges facing the country; education should be a tool for removing social and regional inequalities and creating international consciousness; education should enhance adaptability and management of change; education should foster mutual responsibility and cooperation and education should develop positive attitudes and values that motivate people to serve diligently, honestly and efficiently. The Report recommended that all educational institutions should give increasing emphasis on problem-solving teaching methods that have a bearing on the real life situation of the Kenya environment. This study examines the extent to which PTE has addressed the concerns and recommendation of the Gachathi report.

The Mackay Report (Republic of Kenya, 1981) was mainly concerned with the establishment of the second university in Kenya. It recommended the establishment of the 8-4-4 system of education. It reiterated the importance of the following objectives of education in Kenya: fostering national unity based on the adaptations of the rich cultural heritage of the Kenyan people; facilitation of the needs of national development; development of skills, knowledge attitudes, talents and personalities of learners; fostering positive international consciousness and promotion of social justice and morality. The Report observed that formal education had tended to concentrate on imparting knowledge for the sake of passing examinations instead of facilitating problem solving.

Kamunge Report (Republic of Kenya, 1988) addressed education and manpower training for the rapidly changing Kenyan society. It recommended that education and training should be used to: develop positive attitudes and habits towards maintaining a clean and hygienic environment; promote appropriate skills and attitudes for life and employment in rural areas; provide ethical sensitivity and promote traditional values and practices conducive to national unity; bring about a sense of dignity towards social service and productive labour and enable Kenyans to utilise available resources. Recommendation 216 of the Report suggested that the quality of teachers and teacher education needed to be improved. The importance of fostering national unity through education was emphasised. According to the Report, primary education should, among other things, develop self-expression, utilisation of the senses, literacy, numeracy, manipulative skills, logical thinking, critical judgement and awareness about the environment. This study observes that the reports discussed so far do not provide specific teaching and learning approaches that can facilitate successful implementation of their recommendations. It therefore examines the potential of the Critical Theory of Knowledge, Learning and Literacy as articulated by Paul (1995) and Paul and Elder (2001) as a viable pedagogical framework which can be used to address the recommendations discussed in the reports.

The main issues raised by the Koech Report (Republic of Kenya, 1999) included: the need for national unity and mutual social responsibility, the importance of life-long learning and development of technological and industrial skills. National unity implies harmonious and voluntary coexistence of different ethnic communities as one nation characterised by justice, integrity and patriotism. Mutual social responsibility implies a moral obligation by society and its members to do their very best for one another knowing that society cannot prosper without the full cooperation of its members. The Report identified some virtues cherished in traditional African society which should be fostered in contemporary educational settings. These virtues include ability to listen; openness to dialogue; proper use of logic; self-control; honesty and fair-mindedness. The failure of the education system to foster national unity was expressed as follows: "The commission observed that the current education system does not foster mutual social responsibility as evidenced by rampant violence, destruction of property through arson and selfishness which is characteristic of life in majority of educational institutions" (Republic of Kenya, 1999).

Some of the pressing challenges facing education in Kenya that were addressed in the Koech Report (Republic of Kenya, 1999) included: access to educational opportunities; equity in education; relevance and quality of education. The Report recommended that the content of PTE be revised to include emerging issues such as HIV and AIDS; information technology and computer science; nationhood and issues of national unity; gender mainstreaming and environmental conservation. This study observes that though the reports discussed so far provided insightful details about the issues that education in Kenya ought to address, none of the reports gave a specific pedagogical framework within which the challenges so clearly identified could be met. This study attempts to fill this gap by arguing that a viable framework is one in which analytical, evaluative and creative abilities can be developed while at the same time fostering intellectual and moral virtues among teachers and learners.

MOEST (1986) and K.I.E. (2002, 2004a, and 2004b) outline the eight goals of education in Kenya. All the goals are relevant to this study but emphasis will be on the ones that have to do with enhancement of learners' capacity to adapt to change, think critically and imaginatively, work and contribute to individual and national development. Specifically these goals are number 2, 7 and 8 which K.I.E. (2004a, p.vi-vii) amplifies as follows:

"Education in Kenya must prepare children for the changes in attitudes and relationships which are necessary for the smooth process of a rapidly developing modern economy. There is bound to be a silent social revolution following in the wake of rapid modernization. Education should assist our youth to adapt to this change."

"Education in Kenya should provide the learners with the necessary skills and attitudes for industrial development. Kenya recognizes the rapid industrial and technological changes taking place especially in the developed world. We can only be part of the development if our education system is deliberately focused on knowledge, skills and attitudes that will prepare the youth for these changing global trends."

"Promote international consciousness and foster positive attitudes towards other nations" (K.I.E., 2004a, p.vi-vii)

The national goals of education in Kenya anticipate the contemporary challenges namely, national unity, change, cross-cultural interaction, personal development and fulfilment, industrialization and technological advancement among others. In order to achieve the goals above, MOEST (1986) and Republic of Kenya (2005a) outline the following objectives of primary education. Primary education in Kenya should enable the pupil to:

"develop self-expression, self-discipline, self-reliance, full utilization of a child's senses"

"develop ability for clear logical thought and critical judgement"

"experience a meaningful course of study which will lead to enjoyment and successful learning and a desire to continue learning"

"develop a constructive and adaptive attitude to life"

"grow towards maturity and self-fulfilment as useful and well-adjusted member of society."

The literature reviewed indicate that achievement of goals of education Kenya have been elusive in spite of the various reforms in the system of education. This study sought to identify some of the obstacles that have hindered the achievement of the goals of education. It further attempted to make recommendations that will make primary teacher of education responsive to the challenges of the 21st century.

2.4 Primary teacher education in Kenya

Primary teacher education is an important means for achieving the national goals of education. According to Republic of Kenya (1988), teacher education is regarded as crucial in ensuring the maintenance of quality and relevant education. This point of view is shared by K.I.E: (2004a: ix) which states that the objectives of PTE are among others:

"to develop the basic theoretical and practical knowledge about the teaching profession so that the teacher's attitude and abilities can be turned towards professional commitment and competence"

"to prepare teachers who can develop the child's ability in critical and imaginative thinking, problem solving and self-expression"

"to develop in the teacher the ability to adapt to change or new situations"

Eshiwani (1993) states: "At independence, Kenya inherited an education system with an undeveloped teaching profession. It was lacking in both quality and quantity". However, efforts were made to establish and equip teacher-training colleges. Republic of Kenya (1988) reports that teacher education was regarded as central to ensuring that quality and relevant education was provided in Kenya in order that social and economic transformation was achieved. Teacher education was therefore a vital means of preparing learners for life in a fast changing world. The revised PTE curriculum has incorporated into the syllabus current issues such as HIV & AIDS pandemic, drug and substance abuse, environmental education, human rights, gender awareness and ICT. This is an important step in increasing awareness and informing the learner about current issues and challenges.

Despite the efforts to review the PTE curriculum culminating in the new syllabus (K.I.E, 2004a and K.I.E, 2004b), persistent challenges are reported in recent literature. Republic of Kenya (2005a) discerns the need for PTE curriculum to be modified to enhance quality and relevance as well as accommodate the changing needs of the society. KNCHR (2007) advocates for restructuring of PTE in order to improve teaching methods, content and resource allocation. Republic of Kenya (2007) regards the current PTE curriculum as inadequate for ensuring creation, adoption, adaptation and usage of knowledge. In addition PTE has not addressed the mismatch between skills developed and contemporary market demands. Wegulo (2007) finds PTE to be lacking in flexibility thus negatively impacting on the quantity and quality of primary school teachers. Republic of Kenya (2008b) admits that PTE is inadequate in in-servicing of primary school teachers to adopt alternative methods of curriculum delivery. Gakuu et al (2009) finds the ICT component insufficiently infused and integrated into the PTE curriculum. ARSRC (2007) regards the infusion of HIV and AIDS into PTE syllabus to be inadequate for teacher trainees' development of meaningful knowledge, skills and attitudes towards sexuality.

In view of the persistent challenges facing PTE as mentioned above, this study investigates whether PTE is adequately responsive to the contemporary challenges. The study chose to investigate PTE because of the vital place primary education plays in individual and national development as Bogonko (1992) observes:

Primary education is the fundamental basis for literacy and the acquisition of other basic skills as well as positive social attitudes and values which make life worthwhile in modern society. Primary education is also the foundation upon which are built the other higher structures of modern educational and training systems.

Though Kenya has invested heavily in teacher education, it has been argued that more needs to be done to promote the quality of teachers and teaching. Getao (1996), for instance, claims: "It can be safely stated that teacher education has reached a level where the problem is not that of quantity but that of quality". Fredriksson, (2004) elaborates the concept of quality education as involving the following:

Fostering of problem solving and decision making skills that facilitate management of change and dealing with challenges confronting mankind

Enhancement of reading, writing and arithmetic skills as well as the ability to apply these skills in diverse contexts

Cultivation of values such as democracy and human rights as fundamentals for quality education. Teachers must teach about values not just through the substantive content of their teaching, but also by using teaching methods, which will integrate democracy, interaction, equality, respect and co-operation as parts of the work in schools/institutions. In these areas teachers must be role models.

Quality education should not be regarded as a process of consumption, but as a process of interaction between teachers and students. Education must aim at giving students the opportunities for personal development and confidence to adapt to new situations as well as to change these when they find it necessary. This study adopts the comprehensive conception of quality education described above. While quality education is universally regarded as desirable and promoting thinking skills in learners has attracted the attention of educators, little attention is given to how teachers should be trained to promote it in schools. Educational planners in Ghana for instance, have given little consideration to how teacher training institutions should prepare teachers to enhance the teaching of thinking (Acheampong, 2001; Hill, 2000, GES/TED/ODA, 1993). This study focuses on how PTE in Kenya can be enabled to foster thinking skills that are relevant in addressing contemporary challenges.

2.5 Contemporary issues facing primary education in Kenya

The Kenyan system of Education aims to prepare the learners to function effectively in a complex and dynamic local and international context. This, if achieved, would lead to individual fulfilment as well as national development. Towards this noble goal, the teachers in primary schools are expected to play a leading role in enabling the learners to establish a firm foundation upon which further acquisition of relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes can be based. As Barbara Elliot observes, "Supporting research shows that the quality of education and care invested in the early years can ensure that children are more socially and cognitively prepared to meet their future…" (Elliot, 2002)

The national goals of education cannot be achieved unless the means for their achievement are adequate. One such means is proper PTE carried out in teacher training colleges. This programme ought to focus not only on imparting relevant content but also on enhancing the teacher trainee's instructional methods in order to make teacher-learner interaction achieve the following among others: enhancement of understanding, discovery of one's potential, stimulation of the desire to continue learning, respect for human dignity and rights, and the readiness and willingness to advance one's own as well as the well-being of others. Teachers who have been prepared effectively would in turn assist learners to identify their abilities, interests, inclinations and ambitions in an environment characterized by intense change, complexity, uncertainty and risks.

Republic of Kenya (1999) and Wambari (1999, 2002) lament the failure of Kenyan education system to achieve fully its preferred educational goals. These sources claim that many graduates from Kenya's educational institutions are inadequately equipped to function appropriately in contemporary social and economic situations. Some of the criticisms levelled against the system of education in Kenya are that its graduates lack the motivation and intellectual autonomy that is required for productive and innovative work. They work best under supervision and they lack operacy- that is the ability to take charge of their work and lives. This study discerns in these sources evidence to support the claim that learners are not adequately prepared to face contemporary challenges. It therefore assumes that teacher education (which is responsible for preparing teachers) is itself inadequately responsive to contemporary challenges as well. Wambari (2001) cites some of the alleged shortcomings of Kenya's system of education as:

Learners cannot think and operate independently

Learners rarely ask questions. They mainly learn passively.

Learners are merely concerned about passing examinations and acquiring certificates.

Learners are lost immediately they enter unfamiliar grounds as they lack imagination and creativity.

Republic of Kenya (1999) reported similar misgivings thus:

The commission was informed that the current curriculum has not fully achieved the objectives of education as it has failed to provide sufficient knowledge and skills for the learners to be self-reliant and employable at all levels. The curriculum has also failed to inculcate values and ethics, and the capacity for critical thinking and innovation. It has also not succeeded in fully addressing the developmental needs of the country.

This study sought to find out the extent to which the adequacy of primary teacher education's responsiveness to contemporary challenges may account for the shortcomings highlighted above.

In conclusion, the foregoing review of literature indicates the following:

The need for responsiveness to contemporary challenges is well documented and reflected in the goals of education in general and objectives of PTE in particular. Arguments have been raised regarding the extent to which these goals have been achieved. However the literature reviewed hardly provides clear indicators that can be used to evaluate responsiveness of PTE to contemporary challenges. This study sought to address this gap.

The literature reviewed shows that certain challenges persist despite the various PTE curriculum reviews. However the researcher is not aware of any effort made to account for the persistence. This study analysed the challenges and attempted to account for their persistence.

There is scarcity of literature related to evaluation of the responsiveness of PTE in Kenya to the demands of the 21st century. The researcher hopes to make contribution in this area.