Pambazuka News

Kenya: Literature set-books in Kenya: what teachers want

2005-03-17, Issue 198

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/education/27232


The Kenyan education system, as evident in the English curriculum, is still preying on colonial ambivalence and imperial mimicry more than 40 years after ‘independence’, writes A. Kiprono Langat. "The lack of innovative measures to locate literature within the context on the new ‘Kenya’, the politicization of the process of text selections, and the lack of proper representation of teachers in the choice of curriculum texts has impacted significantly on the teachers’ fear of losing the desire, psychologically or otherwise, for their teaching obligations. Most literature teachers in Kenya seem to have lost (either consciously or unconsciously) their professional attachments to the curriculum material they teach," he writes.

"One may argue that neocolonial dominancy of the ‘haves’ over the ‘have not’, be it within the education(al) structures, the book publishing firms and/or the political/tribal party politics, has produced and reproduced sycophantic hegemonies that have and will continue to adversely affect teachers’ teaching desires of prescribed classroom texts." Langat is conducting research into literature set books in Kenya and is appealing for input from readers.

Literature set-books in Kenya: what teachers want
A. Kiprono Langat (9 March 2005)

What does the teacher want from his/her teaching of the prescribed English literary texts in Kenya?

I am currently working on a research project that examines the effects of prescribed literature texts on the teachers’ reading and teaching pedagogies in the Kenyan secondary schools with specific reference to English literature set-books.

It is emerging from the research that the Kenyan system, as evident in the English curriculum is still preying on colonial ambivalence and imperial mimicry more than 40 years after ‘independence’. The lack of innovative measures to locate literature within the context on the new ‘Kenya’, the politicization of the process of text selections, and the lack of proper representation of teachers in the choice of curriculum texts has impacted significantly on the teachers’ fear of losing the desire, psychologically or otherwise, for their teaching obligations. Most literature teachers in Kenya seem to have lost (either consciously or unconsciously) their professional attachments to the curriculum material they teach.

One may argue that neocolonial dominancy of the ‘haves’ over the ‘have not’, be it within the education(al) structures, the book publishing firms and/or the political/tribal party politics, has produced and reproduced sycophantic hegemonies that have and will continue to adversely affect teachers’ teaching desires of prescribed classroom texts.

The majority of the literature teachers in Kenya appears to have been disempowered, silenced and their professional experiences and contributions marginalized by the very organs that trained and employed them.

It should be noted that, once the teachers’ inner desire to teach is operating at a subliminal state (“I-don’t care” phase), teaching pedagogies are routinized and the teaching tasks are reduced to mere fulfilment of duty. When this happens, the symbolic or the imagined critical texts engagement (by both the teachers and the students) and the aims and objectives of the literary texts in Kenyan schools will become ‘another’ conduit for the ongoing internal-imperialism in the Kenyan education curriculum.

(My main aim of sharing the above preliminary research out-come is to invite readers’ comments/opinions/contestations/criticisms)

A. Kiprono Langat - Research Student
Centre for Research on Education in Context
School of Education
University of New England
[email protected]