All things wrong with the 8-4-4 system

Reports that the current education system in Kenya might be done away with is the best news in the recent past.

The current system is known to focus so much on theory rather than on practical skills that can be directly applied in real life situations.

The focus has been so much on passing theoretical exams with no concern whether the pupil who passes the exam can actually put into practice whatever was tested.

There have been reports in the past about pupils joining popular national schools after excelling in KCPE only to be hounded out of their new schools by poor results and it is always a wonder how such a candidate scored highly in primary school only to fail in high school. The pressure to pass exams has been too much and it is not auguring well with the country.

The exam oriented system has caused unnecessary competition in the society with everybody fighting over the few available slots for those who appear tops.

Getting admitted to a national school and later to a ‘popular’ course at university has been the motivation and cheating in national exams is likely a product of this competition.

This competition could be the cause of the rift between the haves and the have-nots in Kenya where those with money ‘buy’ their way to excellence while the poor are condemned to a cycle of impoverishment because of the unfair opportunities offered by the 8-4-4 system.

The system does not encourage the acquisition of general knowledge that helps people understand their environment better.

Teachers and students focus on reading what they expect to see in the exams and not necessarily in real life situations. For an average high school student, reading an extra book beyond the prescribed set text is an uphill task and don’t forget to note that even the reading of the set text has to be supervised because the student would rather read the guide book instead.

Due to the system’s favouring of a small number of candidates who ‘excel’, the country has been treated to an annual ritual where thousands of ‘failures’ are produced whenever the results are released.

The demeaning of the vocational courses is all a result of this system and instead of people training in middle level colleges and training institutes, repeating has become the norm because everyone wants to go to university not necessarily for a specific course but just for the sake of it.   

Whereas the change may be expensive and might be marred with confusion, it is advisable that we do away with this system that has brought more pain to Kenyans for over 30 years.

Related Topics

8-4-4 curriculum