Kenyas new curriculum 2-6-6-3



Historical records from the travels of John Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann reveals that Kenyans had access to education as far back as 1728, with a Swahili manuscript Utendi wa Tambuka (Book of Heraclius) attesting to the fact. The C.M.S. missionaries interacted with locals in the coastl town of Mombasa and set up one of the earliest mission schools in the country at Rabai in 1846. Before independence, elementary education was based on the colonial system of education. In 1967, Kenya formed the East African Community with Uganda and Tanzania. The three countries adopted a the same system of education, the 7-4-2-3, which consisted of 7 years of primary education, four years of secondary education, two years of high school and 3 to 5 years of university education.
With the collapse of the East African community in 1977, Kenya continued with the same education system until the year 1985, when the 8-4-4 system was introduced, which adopted eight years of primary education, four years of secondary education and four years of university education except for speacilized courses which took up to 5 years of university education. Before joining primary school, student aged between 3-6 years must attend pre-primary for one to two years. Primary education is
universal, free and compulsory and usually caters for student ages 6 to 14. A major goal of primary school education is to develop self-expression, self-discipline and self-reliance while at the same time providing a rounded education experience. Secondary education begins around the age of fourteen and lasts for four years. Secondary school education, especially in public schools,s is subsidized by the government, with the government paying tuition fees for students attending public secondary school. The roots of higher education in Kenya started in 1956, with the founding of Nairobi’s Royal Technical College, a school that would in 1970 become the country’s first university –The University of Nairobi.

Informal Learning from an elder

The Traditional System of Education (Informal)

Informal education was a lifelong process and involved the acquisition of values, attitudes, knowledge and skills relevant to the day to day affairs of society (Ocitti, 1973). This type of development was stimulated by study through observation and participation in the role of the extended family and the community as a whole, of its accumulated wisdom as translated through proverbs, riddles, songs, legends and folklores.
Observation and imitation were used in teaching young ones in the general Kenyan traditional communities. Informal education included involving student in productive work and observation. A student was expected to learn mainly by seeing and imitating. From an early age, a student was taught to accept, to value and reproduce the behaviour, customs and sentiments of the society (Samperu, O.I., 22.11.2015). Education was strictly enculturation of the traditional habits, attitudes and behavioural codes. Development towards adulthood proceeded strictly according to custom and social tradition.
The student’s education also concentrates on what the student ought to become. What was expected was a mature adult who had to take his rightful position among the group. The most common method employed in teaching the young traditional ways was imitation (Memusi, O, I., 11.12.2015). A student was expected to learn by seeing and imitating. This method of instruction included involving student in productive work where student worked as they observed what the elder or teacher did. Learning the art of blacksmithing, Nkurunah (O.I., 23.11.2015) recalls the words of his grandfather, who taught him, ―Son; you need to watch what I am doing carefully because tomorrow I expect you to do it without my help.
There was little in the material equipment of indigenous society that the student could not acquire through imitation (Datta, 1984). This was echoed by Memusi (O.I., 11.12.2013), who explained that dances and songs that accompanied learning were learned by observation and imitation. Student observed how the elders and their peers did it and later copied it in their presentations. Together with the moments of imitation went the deliberate educational measures taken by the adults in the community to make sure that the student was put well on his way to adulthood worthy of the tribal tradition. Parents and other adults in the group were always ready to assist the natural imitative tendencies of the young student.
An example of this traditional learning was in the Maasai community. Folklores and legends were extensively used among the Maasai people to teach young ones (Samperu, O.I., 11.12.2015). A great variety of stories and legends were told. On the whole, they praised virtues and condemned stubbornness and faults. Good deeds were rewarded, and bad deeds were met with due punishment. The idea was to help the youngsters grasp the prevailing ethical standards of the tribe.

The 7-4-2-3 System of Education.

According to Ominde (1964), the chairman of the first educational commission in independent Kenya, “during the colonial era, there was no such thing as a nation” only several nations living side by side in the same territory. Education, like society, was stratified along racial lines; there existed an ‘African education’, a ‘European Education’, and an ‘Asian Education’; three separate systems divided by rigid boundaries (Ominde 1964). This stratification was based on the colonialist’s assertion that the mental development of the average African adult was equivalent to that of the average 7-8-year-old European boy (Gachathi, 1976). African education’ therefore, tended to be a hybrid, precariously hovering between a European model with a European subject matter and an education deemed suitable to the place in colonial life considered ‘appropriate’ to the African population (Ominde 1964).
Thus the eve of independence brought sweeping reforms in the educational system. With the creation of a single nation came the emergence of a single educational system, no longer stratified along racial lines. Ominde Commission was formed to introduce changes that reflect the nation’s sovereignty. The commission focused on identity and unity, which were critical issues at the time. Changes in the subject content of history and geography were made to reflect national cohesion. Between 1964 and 1985, the 7-4-2-3-system was adopted, seven years of primary, four years of lower secondary (form 1 -4), two years of upper secondary (form 5-6), and three years of university. This does not include the ‘pre-primary’ schooling provided to student under six. The principal preoccupation for Ominde’s report was to introduce an education system that promoted national unity and inculcated in the learners the desire to serve their nation (Simuyu, 2001).

8.4.4 ssystem breakdown from primary education to vocational education


According to Muya (2000), the 8-4-4 system of education, was introduced in January 1985 as pre-vocational. Following the Mackay report of 1982. It consisted of 8 years of primary education, four years of secondary and four years of university. King and McGrath (2002, p89) further stated that the 8-4-4 policy raised concerns that a primary academic education that might lack the necessary content to promote widespread sustainable (self) employment. The 8-4-4 policy emanated from the assumption that it would equip pupils with employable skills, enabling school dropouts to either be self-employed or secure employment in the informal sector (Eshiwani, 1992). As King and McGrath (2002) observed, the system intended to orient youths towards self-employment. The new policy would improve the student’s employment potential and therefore make them self-reliant (Amutabi, 2003). According to the Kenya Ministry of Education (1984), the 8-4-4 policy encouraged students to become more self-reliant and better oriented towards self-employment. It contained a rather broad curriculum at both primary and secondary levels, with a strong emphasis on practical subjects sitting alongside a traditional approach to academic subjects. Business education was introduced into upper primary as an evidence for encouraging self-employment. As well as business education’s focus on providing basic knowledge and skills on issues such as record keeping, there was a cross-curricular emphasis on attitudinal orientation towards self-employment. Although the 8-4-4 curriculum allowed for more technical and vocational subjects options, it experienced severe shortages or lack of essential resources, facilities, and the local communities could not be mobilized to provide the required facilities. No trained technical and vocational subject teachers and local craftsmen could not be used (Simiyu, 2001). According to Amutabi (2003), the system was theoretically oriented due to a lack of infrastructure.
The Summative Evaluation of the Curriculum’ (K.I.E., 2009) indicated that the curriculum content and implementation were academic and examination-oriented (as shown in fig 2.6). In addition to curriculum overload, most schools were not adequately provided with equipped workshops to facilitate learning of practical skills and teachers were not sufficiently trained. As a result, the graduates at the secondary school level did not acquire adequate entrepreneurship skills for self-reliance. Apart from the high unemployment arising from this phenomenon, there was also the risk of emerging social vices such as increased crime, drug abuse, and antisocial behaviour.
Furthermore, the curriculum did not provide flexible education pathways for identifying and nurturing the talents and interests of learners early enough to prepare them for the world of work, career progression, and sustainable development. Assessment, which was crucial for providing quality education, was therefore limited to summative assessment (assessment of learning), whilst most teachers hardly ever used formative assessment (assessment for learning). This type of assessment led to fierce competition in learning rather than focusing on acquiring requisite knowledge and skills. Furthermore, the curriculum made little provision for recognizing the learner’s potential, gifts, and talents due to an unnecessary focus on examination. This issue contributed to increased dropout and wastage rates in the education sector and high unemployment. The classrooms were designed architecturally with the requirements for 8.4.4 learning.


DEFINITION of Competency based curriculum

Competency-Based Curriculum (C.B.C.) is where learning is based on the needs and potential of individual learners under a flexible framework and parameters that move and shift according to the learners’ demands. C.B.C. is collective learning in which the learner and instructor are partners in the learning process as they jointly seek answers and solutions to complex and straightforward learning expectations beneficial to humanity. C.B.C. promotes hands-on training and infuses the acquisition of new knowledge through observation, ‘learning-as-you-do,’ experiential learning, and practical experimenting in order to become better at each successive stage. In C.B.C., exams are not necessary, but several methods measure competency to ascertain that the learner is mastering content or getting better at it. Competency-Based Curriculum (C.B.C.) under the 2-6-3-3 system in Kenya has great potential and is likely to transform the ailing education sector based on exams and lead to less innovation at all levels of education.

The C.B.C system has been developed to build competency in students in various aspects. They include Communication, collaboration, Critical Thinking, Imagination, Creativity, citizenship, learning to learn, self-efficiency, and digital literacy. C.B.C differs from the O.B.C in that classes are now called ‘grades.’ Early Studenthood Development has two levels only (Pre-primary 1(pp1) and preprimary 2(pp 2)). Subjects areas are now referred to as learning areas, topics/ sub-topics are known as strands/ sub-strands, learning outcomes is the new term that replaces lesson objectives, and learning resources are used instead of teaching aids.

Organisation of C.B.C in Kenya


C.B.C in Kenya is structured into Pre-Primary, Lower Primary, Upper Primary, Lower Secondary, Senior School, and College Education, as shown in fig 2.8. This study will mainly focus on the 3.3 parts of the Junior and Senior secondary schools, replacing the former 4-year Secondary studies. According to the C.B.C, competencies learning is customized according to the level of education attained. Therefore, different levels have different competency learning (Kenyayote, 2020). Secondary education is organized into two levels. Namely, lower secondary (Grades 7, 8, and 9) and senior school (Grades 10, 11, and 12) are stated in the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development developed in 2017.

C.B.C junior Secondary
Graduates of primary school Grade 6 join lower secondary at Grade 7. The Lower secondary exposes the learner to a broad-based curriculum to enable them to explore their abilities, personality, and potential as a basis for choosing subjects according to career paths of interest at the senior school. In Grade 4, learners are introduced to the optional subjects offered at upper primary to make informed choices in Grade 7. Learners in lower secondary undergo a rigorous career guidance program and are exposed to the related subjects to make informed choices as they transition to senior school.
Subjects for Lower Secondary School
The Subjects are in two categories; core and optional subjects. At this level, a broad-based curriculum is offered to enable learners to explore their interests and potential as a basis for choosing subjects according to career paths of interest at the senior level.

Core Subjects
Learners will be required to take the 12 core subjects provided.
1. English
2. Kiswahili or Kenyan Sign Language for learners who are deaf
3. Mathematics
4. Integrated Science
5. Health Education
6. Pre-Technical and Pre-Career Education
7. Social Studies
8. Religious Education – learners choose one of the following: Christian Religious Education, Islamic Religious Education and Hindu Religious Education
9. Business Studies
10. Agriculture
11. Life Skills Education
12. Sports and Physical Education
NB: I.C.T. will be a delivery tool for all Subjects.
Optional Subjects
Learners are provided with an opportunity to choose a minimum of one and a maximum of two subjects according to personality, abilities, interests, and career choices from the list provided.
1. Visual Arts
2. Performing Arts
3. Home Science
4. Computer Science
5. Foreign Languages: German, French, Mandarin, and Arabic.
6. Kenyan Sign Language
7. Indigenous Languages

Baubiologie (Building Biology) schools: (1970s–present)

C.B.C Senior Secondary Schools
Senior School comprises three years of education targeted at learners in the age bracket of 15 to 17 years and lays the foundation for further education and training at the tertiary level and in the world of work. It marks the end of Basic Education as defined in the Education Act, 2013. Learners exiting this level are expected to be “empowered, engaged, and ethical citizens” ready to participate in the nation’s socio-economic development.
The learner entering this level shall have had opportunities at lower secondary to explore their potential, interests, and personality and is, therefore, ready to begin specialization in a career path of choice. The specialization entails pursuing studies in one of the three pathways available in senior school. He or she can choose the Arts and Sports Science, Social Sciences, or Science Technical Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) pathway.
Schools will be specialized institutions that allow learners to focus on a field of their choice and form a foundation for further education and training and gaining employable skills. Therefore, senior schools will be required to organize open days to enable learners and parents to glean the information necessary for effective decision-making.

Comparision of 8.4.4 and Competency based curriculum(c.b.c)


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