Kenya curriculum uproar as pupils behead live chickens in school

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A viral video clip showing two primary school children slaughtering a chicken in Kenya has caused uproar and some hilarity about the country’s new curriculum, which has more of a focus on practical skills.

During the outdoor lesson for 11 year olds on how to kill and cook a chicken, one boy is seen pinning down the fowl as another holds a knife nervously to its neck.

Some curious classmates watch as the teacher, who is filming the episode with his mobile phone, congratulates the boy for cutting off the head and then instructs another, who holding the body, to put it in a nearby cauldron of boiling water.

But as the child lets go over the pot, the headless chicken flaps its wings and escapes.

The 19-second clip ends with the teacher’s laughter and the hapless and headless chicken still running around as screaming children scamper after it.

When a chicken’s head is chopped off it can run around for several minutes as for a short period its spinal cord circuits still have residual oxygen.

It is unlikely to be something this grade-six class will forget.

The video sparked an outcry on social media with many people concerned about the safety of the children, although hardly anybody raised the issue of the chicken’s suffering, asin rural Kenya, the sight of chickens being slaughtered is a common one.

Since they started primary school, they have been the guinea pigs for a new curriculum, and have experienced many different practical projects over the last few years – from making scarecrows to selling goods at markets.

Supporters of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) see them more as pioneers, saying it is an improvement on the old theory- and exam-based system as it better prepares them for life and to find jobs in the 21st Century.

They also argue that as there is continuous assessment it will reduce cheating in exams, which has been a massive problem for the government.

About 1.25 million grade-six pupils are soon to sit exams as part of the Kenya Leaving School Certificate that determines their entrance to secondary school.

For the first time, the exam will only contribute 40% to their final marks as their assessment scores since grade one will make up the rest.

‘Feasting at parents’ expense’

But some parents are unhappy at the expense of the new curriculum as schools expect them to contribute material and money for items – like chickens – needed for the practicals.

A home science teacher at Kangundo Primary School in eastern Kenya says that those from less well-off households are sometimes forced to watch others do their practicals.

“My grade-five pupils, for example, were sewing a handkerchief for their project and some could not afford to buy the fabric, so we ended up using the few that were bought by some pupils,” Jemimah Gitari told the BBC. Read More