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Go beyond proposed 8-4-4 reforms

By The Standard | January 31st 2017
Education CS Fred Matiang’i consult with his PS Belio Kipsang during National Conference for Curriculum Reforms at KICC, Nairobi on Monday 30/01/17. PHOTO: BONIFACE OKENDO/STANDARD

A lot of hope rode on Kenya’s adoption of the 8-4-4 system of education in 1985. The new system aimed to equip school leavers at the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education with adequate skills for self and gainful employment in the formal and informal sectors. In a nutshell, it was designed to promote self-sufficiency among learners.

Over the years, concerns have however arisen that the system has failed to live up to its billing, hence the need for curriculum reforms to enable the education system address the changing needs of society.

There has been general consensus that rather than create self-sufficiency, the 8-4-4 system has tended to promote dependency. The system is too much exam-oriented; encouraging learning by rote, it totally ignores creativity and lacks the ability to identify and nurture talent among learners.

Following public and education stakeholders' demands, in 2012 the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) invited the public to give views on the successes and failures of the 8-4-4 system to help it chart the way forward. A 2012 report by a task force led by Prof Douglas Odhiambo proposed a 2-6-3-3-3 system to replace 8-4-4. A conference organised by KICD that started yesterday is set to decide the way forward.

In all this, it is important to note the change of curriculum by itself will not bring much change unless the Government invests a lot in the sector through adequate financing and the hiring of enough teachers to guide learners. Learning must be facilitated through the provision of adequate learning materials and aids, notably textbooks and laboratories.

The incorporation of technology as a learning tool must be prioritised to keep learners abreast of events in a rapidly changing world. We must aim to train and equip learners with knowledge that allows them to compete on equal footing in the global job market.

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