Death of KCPE as Uhuru puts end to debate on curriculum

President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) with Education CS George Magoha during the 3rd National Conference Curriculum reforms launch at KICC, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]
The countdown to the end of Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination has officially kicked off with only four years left to the death of the decades-old tests that were a hallmark of cutthroat competition.

It is now official that children under the new 2-6-3-3-3 education system will not sit national examinations at the end their primary school education.

Yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta rested the long-running debate on the fate of the basic national examination under 8-4-4 system, saying all primary school children will transition to secondary schools.

“We have insisted that there will be no exams in Grade Six and there will be 100 per cent transition to secondary schools,” said Uhuru.

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The President also ended the controversial debate on where lower secondary school classes would be domiciled, affirming that the three classes – Grade 7, 8 and 9 – will be moved to high schools.

Sharp standpoints

“Lower secondary (Grade 7, 8, 9) will be domiciled at secondary schools,” he said.

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The location of the Junior Secondary School level of education had split various education stakeholders, with the rival teachers’ unions pulling apart.

Primary and secondary school heads associations also had sharp standpoints on the matter, with each of the sides keen to win the teachers’ membership to their side. “We support the decision and we will receive the pupils when they finally come to secondary schools,” said Kahi Indimuli, national chair of Secondary School Heads Association.

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Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha had set up a task force led by Prof Fatuma Chege, Kenyatta University Deputy Vice Chancellor, to advise on the sticky issue of curriculum implementation. Magoha had said the government had decided that students will sit national examinations at the end of Grades Nine and 12 of the CBC.

“We have decided that there will be an examination after Year Nine and after Year 12,” Magoha said last month.

Grade 12 is an equivalent of present Form Four. This means the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) has been retained and will be used to place students to universities. Under the new 2-6-3-3-3 education system, learners will spend two years at pre-primary before proceeding to Grade One to Six.

They will then transit to Junior Secondary School before joining Senior Secondary School (Grades 10 to 12).

University education will last three years. The new education system guarantees elimination of individualised national examinations and introduces learner assessment. The Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) said the assessments will be used to gauge the implementation of CBC in schools and also inform government policy.

In primary schools, the government is rolling out Grade Three pupils monitoring learers’ assessments aimed at establishing the extent of teaching and learning of the pupils. There will also be no wastage as all children will transit to next class and career paths – arts and sports, social science and STEM – created at secondary level.

Finer details of the implementation matrix show that the current Grade Three pioneer class will not sit national examinations in 2022 when they complete primary school education.

The CBC was rolled out in all schools on January 3, this year in pre-primary 1 and 2 and Grade 1, to Grade 3. The government has scheduled to roll out Grade Four in January next year.

The announcement by Uhuru on examinations surprised many Kenyans.

Education stakeholders yesterday sought to understand the criteria the ministry will employ to place the pupils in secondary schools.

Every year, the government places hundreds of thousands of learners to national, extra county and county schools.

Addressing the pertinent question of infrastructure, Uhuru seemed to suggest that it will be done over time.

“I rather (pupils) be under a tree rather than being in streets sniffing drugs. Gradually, we will get the infrastructure needed,” he said.

The President asked those keen to disrupt the roll out of the new education system to change course.

“Let us avoid unnecessary push and shove. I am committed to the reforms in education,” he said.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has opposed the roll out, citing inadequate teacher training, poor infrastructure, inadequate budget and lack of legal policy. The union has also questioned the roll-out process.

Locked out

KNUT delegates were yesterday locked out of the conference for having not registered.

“It was designed for KNUT not to attend and our position does not change,” said Sossion.

At the event, Uhuru pleaded with teachers to support the new curriculum. “The process will have a lot of challenges and it will be hard for teachers. But children will give you the inspiration not to waste the effort,” said Uhuru.

He said it is disheartening to spend many years training a child only to see them without hope, abusing drugs and engaging in criminal activities.

“Teachers should be the greatest warriors in assisting us to ensure children who have hope regain confidence. Let us not be dampened by the challenges,” said Uhuru.

Teachers Service Commission (Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia said more than 113,000 teachers from both public and private schools have been trained.

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