A wave of excitement washed over schools across the country as the pilot phase of the new education curriculum kicked off yesterday.
Delays witnessed in the start of the new system in some schools did little to dampen the spirits of pupils and teachers at the pre-primary level, eager to try out the new system rolled out by the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD).
The pilot programme is targeting 470 schools across the country's 47 counties and will be carried out to test the feasibility and validity of the planned curriculum designs, teacher preparation and assessment models in different contexts and levels.
Scheduled roll out
The outcomes of this pilot study will be used to fine-tune the document ahead of the scheduled roll-out in all schools in January 2018.
Overall, the new system has three tiers: Early years, consisting of Pre-primary One to Grade Three; middle-school, comprising Grades Four to Nine; and senior school, running from Grade 10 to 12.
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In a classroom in Kisumu's Golden Elites Primary School, numbered objects were placed on the table with the teacher choosing a number which the students would knock down using a ball in what offered a glimpse into learning activities used under the new system.
There was excitement in the classrooms as students impatiently waited to be selected to be the one to throw the ball.
"With this new curriculum there is good pupil involvement and it is promoting holistic development as no one is left out," said Elizabeth Mutua, the school's head teacher.
Among the shortcoming listed was the fact that the new curriculum has a lot of outdoor activities but some schools lacked the grounds and facilities to nature the talent.
At Arina Early Childhood Development Education School, teachers were busy preparing for the trials.
The head teacher, Mrs Mary Onyango, said she was excited by the new curriculum.
"It will nurture everyone and if given keen interest, can help develop talent from as early as ECDE level," she said.
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She said the 8-4-4 system was exams oriented and the new system was more engaging.
In Nairobi the new, 2-6-6-3 system kicked off at the All Saints Cathedral School in Starehe.
Nursery class teacher, Fellistus Timothy, said new curriculum recognised that children have different capabilities and capacities to grasp things.
At the Ruai Primary School in Njiru, the head teacher Ann Muthii, said the curriculum was exciting as subjects such as Home Science, Art and Craft and Music have been incorporated into the syllabus.
"We are delighted to be one of the schools chosen to pilot the new curriculum because it is the first time we are doing it. We are confident and want to give it a guided judgement and see if it will work and if it is viable or not," said Mr Muthii.
However, Muthii pointed out that the curriculum is going to be costly as it will involve purchase of materials for students who will choose subjects such as Art and Craft, Home Science and Music.
At Nakuru's Pangani Special School, pupils anxiously waited for the roll-out of the new curriculum.
A teacher, Lucy Kamau, said the improved curriculum will help to enable smooth and comfortable learning for the 160 pupils enrolled at the school.
For learners with special needs, the new structure involves vocational training that will be offered to the mentally and physically challenged pupils.
Under the new system early year's category, children will spend two years in nursery and six years in lower and upper primary, with each section divided into three years. Secondary education will also be split into two, lower and senior, each section taking up three years.
In upper secondary, learners will be expected to specialise by taking up either of three paths – arts and sports, social sciences or science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
At grade four, learners will be introduced to the optional subjects offered at upper primary to enable them make informed choices at grade seven.
In Nakuru, ten schools were selected to take part in the piloting programme.
In Uasin Gishu and Nandi counties, delays in delivery of learning materials hampered the much-anticipated roll-out of the new curriculum.
Most teachers and pupils from Hill School Eldoret, Central Primary and Eldoret School for the Hearing Impaired that are among the pilot institutions, expressed confidence over the new curriculum, saying it is meant to provide a platform where pupils enjoy a holistic academic approach.
Positive reviews on the new system were also recorded in Kakamega County.
The new education curriculum was also successfully launched in pilot primary schools in Murang'a and Kiambu County.
Anxious pupils at Bishop Kairo Education Centre in Murang'a were taken through the new curriculum by two teachers who have been trained on the same.
The Launch of the new curriculum marks the end of the system that overhauled the 7-4-2-3 handed over to Kenya by colonialists at independence in 1963.
Despite the transition of Kenya's education systems from colonially-inclined theoretical education system of 7-4-2-3 to practical-oriented 8-4-4 system, there are still evident gaps in the country's education systems.