The long-awaited overhaul of the 8-4-4 system started yesterday with piloting of the new model across the country.
This marked the end of a system that has served Kenya for over 30 years.
The 8-4-4 replaced another education system Kenya inherited from colonialists at independence in 1963.
Kenya may have moved from the theory-oriented 7-4-2-3 system that British colonialists left the country with to the more practical 8-4-4 system. However, experts felt there were gaps to be addressed.
Introduction of 8-4-4 in 1985 was meant to impart practical skills in learners. However, this spirit got lost along the way, leading to the journey of launching yet another model.
And now, educations experts hope the new 2-6-3-3 system will address the shortcomings of 8-4-4.
The latest model is said to have been aligned with the country’s development blueprint, the Kenya Vision 2030.
Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) director Julius Jwan said the 7-4-2-3 system was adopted by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania when they formed the East African Community.
In the new system, learners will take seven years in primary school, four in secondary.
When the EAC collapsed in 1977, Kenya scrapped the regionally administered secondary school examination, changing it from East Africa Certificate of Secondary Education (EACE) to Kenya Certificate of Education (KCE).
“The 7-4-2-3 system was deemed to prepare learners for white-collar jobs. The focus on vocational education was to prepare students who would not continue with secondary education, those who could be self-employed and those who would be seeking self-employment in the non-formal sector. This was the answer to the challenges faced by graduates,” said Dr Jwan.
He added: “The proposed system offers a broad range of subjects at upper primary and junior secondary. These will culminate in the pathways from which the students select various tracks for flexibility.”
Chairman of the first educational commission in the independent Kenya, Simeon Ominde (1964) said: “During the colonial era, there was no such thing as a nation, only several nations living side by side in the same territory.”
Ominde’s report indicated education was stratified along racial lines, where there were separate systems divided by rigid boundaries in which there existed an ‘African education’, a ‘European Education’ and an ‘Asian Education’.
The commission focused on identity and unity, critical issues at the time. Changes in the subject content of history and geography were made to reflect national cohesion.
The 7-4-2-3-system was in use between 1964 and 1985. It comprised seven years of primary, four of lower secondary (Form to Form Four), two in upper secondary (Form 5 to Form 6), and three years at university.