INSTITUTE OF OPEN LEARNING
Sile Kennedy Kipsiya
Drama in Education
Q) Why hasn’t Drama been placed on the Kenya’s Education system and what suggestions do you have to make this happen?
Drama is defined by Ezekiel Alembi as literary work of art created by a dramatist or playwright for the purpose of performance by actors. (Alembi Ezekiel, Appreciating Drama, Nairobi, Acacia Stantex Publishers, 2000). Plato, a Greek philosopher, who conceded that learning must be based on play, distinguished between theater and play. He saw theatre as a serious performance done for the audience. Theatre involved memorization. Play on the other hand was seen as casual. Not performed necessarily for an audience. The actor used own words.
Drama features characters, dialogue, gesture and confrontation, scenes and stage direction. Alembi further classifies drama into tragedy, comedy, tragi-comedy, farce, satire, absurd drama and socialist drama (pp.3-6)
Various theorists and Educationists have seen drama as an integral part of learning. Aristotle recognized the role of play in education. He started catharsis which is an action of getting rid of troublesome feelings by expressing them to underpin the importance of drama.
A French philosopher, Rousseau (1817-1878) emerged with progressive views which demanded a shift in focus from subject matter to the learner. The child is not empty and thus should be laced at the centre of learning.
John Dewey (1859-1952) advocated for learning by doing. He refused the notion that a child is an empty slate or empty pitcher. He castigated education as a formal instruction and acquisition of knowledge.
The thinkers recognized the importance of allowing self-expression and self-determination in the learning process of the child.
A practitioner, Miss Harriet Finlay-Johnson (1900’s), as a school headmistress, believed in the child’s natural dramatic instincts. She saw the process of dramatizing as being more important than the product.
Locally, in Kenya, “Theatrical Festivals have been with us for a long time. Messages that are conveyed through these festivals are informative, educative ad entertaining. When such messages are well crafted, they not only raise awareness on a given issue but also shape thoughts, influence attitudes and behavior and arouse emotions”. (Job Osiako, Ezekiel Alembi, Peter Barasa, Sireingo Khaemba, The Kenya schools and Colleges Drama Festivals: Experiments and development, Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, 2004).
The history and development of drama in Kenya is rich with stories of intense efforts by thespians to have drama incorporated in the schools curriculum. The chief inspector of schools, Enos O Oyaya, in a foreword to the Kenya Schools and Colleges Drama Festivals book by Job Osiako et al, took note of this struggle and commented, “The ministry of Education is fully aware of the many efforts that dramatists have made with regard to wanting drama to be incorporated as a subject in the curriculum. The move from co-curriculum to curriculum is not so much a problem as the unavailability of resources to facilitate such a decision”.
Indeed development of drama in Kenya is wrought with many constraints which have all either directly or indirectly led to the omission of drama from the curriculum. These constraints, apart from the resources highlighted by the chief inspector of schools include:
1) The 8-4-4 syllabus which is too wide and thus unfriendly to the development of drama. Drama as a subject cannot be taught in the structured 35 or 40 minutes periods for primary schools and secondary schools respectively. This would require a major restructuring of...
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