Opportunities from Policy Shifts in Education

Though still in its infancy stages, one of the greatest policy shifts during our times is transformation from rote to competency based learning in the school system. This will eventually affect not only the way we do business, but also the ­­­­kind of business that we can each pursue.  The shift brings to mind, the early influences during our formative years.

More particularly, during the first week upon joining secondary school in one of today’s national schools, we were introduced to all the courses expected of our studies. One of them was industrial arts, which comprised of woodwork and metalwork.

The first lessons involved introduction to various carpentry and metal work tools. Amongst many others we were mesmerized by the lathe machine that is used for cutting and shaping metals. This industrial arts course was no doubt meant to test our technical abilities for the next two years. Some excelled whereas others like me struggled hard and eventually had nothing valuable to say or show for the two years weekly experiences in the workshops.

Actually, I can’t remember finishing any of the practical assignments not only during the allocated time, but also observing the required standards.  Nonetheless, there were those who gallantly excelled and continued pursuing the Industrial arts up-to form four. Still, others decided to transfer to full technical oriented schools, while in form three, aiming to exploit their skills and orientations to the fullest. These paths led them to the then Kenya Polytechnic and Mombasa Polytechnic amongst others. We still meet with some who finally ended up becoming successful engineers, contractors and workshop managers amongst others.  Why this analogy?

The curriculum that is currently being faced out took shape in the early 1980’s and laid great emphasis in rote learning. This method entails a memorization technique that is based on repetition. The thinking is that one will be able to quickly recall the meaning of the concepts and ideas, once continuously repeated.

There are other learning approaches which include meaningful, associative and active learning. Meaningful learning refers to a method where the newly desired knowledge is related with previous knowledge. Consider the example involving upgrade from driving a car to a lorry.

Associative learning is the process by which learners associate between two stimuli, or a behavior and a stimulus. The two forms of associative learning are classical and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning involves the conditioned stimulus (as the sound of a bell) being paired with and precedes the unconditioned stimulus (as the sight of food), until the conditioned stimulus alone is sufficient to elicit the response (as salivation in a dog).

Conversely, operant conditioning is a process of behavior modification whereby a subject is encouraged to behave as desired through positive (rewards) or negative (punishment) reinforcement. The aim is to ensure that the subject eventually associates the pleasure or displeasure of the reinforcement with the desired behavior.

Active learning is generally defined as any instructional method that engages students in the learning process. In short, active learning requires students to do meaningful learning activities and think through them. Eventually, this leads to analytical and critical thinking processes.

The question now is; has the education system being discarded been taking students through these learning styles? If yes, the majority students could have been discovering their orientations during the learning process and charting their strategic direction early in life. On the same note, the 21st century science of motivation could have been well entrenched in our lives. All is not lost though, but only if the new system will manage to entrench new thinking in line with the 21st Century dynamics. Why?

In 2009, Daniel Pinks publicized his well-researched ideas on the science of motivation. He propagated that “there is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does. As long as the task involves only mechanical skills, bonuses work as would be expected: the more the pay, the higher the performance. However, when the task calls for rudimentary cognitive skills, a larger reward leads to poorer performance.”

Daniel Pinks urges organizations to adopt a completely new approach to the science of human productivity. “Abandon outdated extrinsic motivation oriented policies, and embrace modern ones, based on intrinsic motivation,” he says.

But which are these modern policies? The first one is autonomy or the desire to direct our own lives and work. The second one is masterly, or the desire to get better and better at doing something that matters in our lives, and third is purpose or the desire to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. That means serving humanity. Should the envisaged education system entrench these principles, we will experience high levels of human capital empowerment. This will in turn lead to improved productivity in organizations and most importantly, in the entire economy.  Will industrial strikes and those by professionals be toned down?

Certainly, especially as Kenyans continue discovering their orientations, thus embracing intrinsic as opposed to extrinsic motivation. The latter is highly prevalent in our situation. How else would one explain instances whereby professionals engaged in sensitive service industries, frequently go on strike for months on end, in total disregard of the consequences?

People who are intrinsically motivated never have to worry about financial rewards. Instead, they attract the same based on not only high demand for their services, but also continued recognition of their expertise. When unhappy in the prevailing situation, they move on and easily attract other lucrative opportunities. Consequently, we are anxiously waiting to confirm whether these assertions will hold true of the human capital product of the envisaged education system. If so, there will be opportunities galore arising from the probable outcomes. But, is the business fraternity fully set towards exploiting the likely opportunities?

How Else Can You Benefit From Us?


  1. An absolutely FREE 15-minute insightful presentation (in Nairobi only) on

(i)The prevailing national and organizational challenges

(ii)The genesis of the challenges and

(Iii) Impact of the challenges

(iv) The respective solutions

The focus of this solution is to introduce (during organizational meetings) the life changing strategy guide titled “Career Dynamics in the 21st Century,” now approved for the school system by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.

2) A Two Hour seminar titled “Unleashing the Human Performance Potential,” based on the principles advocated in “Career Dynamics in the 21st Century” This is conducted for all employees without any limitation of numbers (fees depends on location). The seminar is already enormously popular in mainstream Churches and learning institutions.

3) A full day seminar titled “Maximum Performance Strategy.” This involves application of the principals advocated in “Career Dynamics in the 21st Century,” through an experiential learning process. The seminar accommodates 20 participants per session ((fees depends on location).


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