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Report: Verdict of Kenyans on end of 8-4-4 education system

By Augustine Oduor | March 31st 2016

Kenyans want to see the end of the 8-4-4 system of education, which has been in operation for the last 31 years and its replacement with a new three-tier system with fewer subjects and more practical skills.

A report based on views gathered from Kenyans across the nation, and which was made public for the first time yesterday, says citizens are specific on what they want their children to be taught at every stage of learning. The document also indicates the current primary school curriculum is choked with too many subjects.

Pupils in Standard One to Three will be the first to enjoy the new curriculum, which is expected to lay less emphasis on exams once implementation starts next year.

It follows the endorsement by Kenyans of the Government's initiative to overhaul the 8–4–4 education structure that they said does not promote wholesome learning.

Without revealing the preferred structure, the report shows that the Government proposal of a 2:6:6:3 system got a major boost.

The report says Kenyans proposed a three-tier education arrangement – early education, middle school and high school/tertiary - which resonates with the Government's proposed structure.

Under the 2:6:6:3, the Government proposed that learners should spend two years in nursery, six years in primary, another six years at secondary, and at least three years at the university.

Secondary education will however be divided into junior and senior secondary.

The needs assessment report tabled during an education stakeholder's conference in Nairobi yesterday says the respondents agreed that the education curriculum ought to be reformed to serve societal, personal, economic and technological needs.

Learners, teachers, parents and leaders at all levels of education were interviewed.

The findings are as a result of months-long information gathering using questionnaires, interviews, Focused Group Discussions and memoranda submitted to the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

It emerged yesterday that Kenyans want a curriculum structure that delivers age-appropriate content at all levels of education.

The report says pre-primary and lower primary education should form the first tier of education called 'early years education' and the focus will be on fundamental skills.

Upper primary and secondary education will constitute the middle school education and focus here will be on 'exploration, broad-based curriculum and selection of pathway at the end of junior Secondary School'.

Kenyans also suggested that the third tier should  constitute high school and tertiary education, which should focus on the pathways – general, vocational, talents – to prepare the learners for careers, higher education and world of work.

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i  said a curriculum design will be ready by July this year.

"I shall next week form an all-inclusive steering committee that will come up with a curriculum draft design that all of us can relate to," said Matiang'i.

Syllabus development, teacher training and development of curriculum support material will be the next stages ahead of the national implementation in January next year.

If all goes per the plan, 2018 will be the last time KCPE examinations will be written in the country.

Standard Three pupils will transit to Grade Four as the current Standard Six moves to Grade Seven.

The various stages of measuring progress will no longer be called 'classes' or 'standards'; instead, they will be called 'grades'.

And 2018 will also be the year the pioneer classes — current Standard Six and Class Seven — will transit to Junior Secondary School.

This means that in 2020, these students will sit the first junior secondary examination after three years of secondary education.

And in 2021, the last KCSE examinations will be administered, ending three decades of the 8-4-4 systems.

The first secondary education examinations — senior secondary — under the new system will be administered in 2023.

Deputy President William Ruto said the Government was committed to overhaul the system to address emerging needs.

The Government had proposed the reforms must decongest the primary level curriculum to create more time for holistic development of the learners.

The report recommends subjects under the new curriculum be grouped into thematic forms of global awareness, financial awareness and civic literacy to address the gaps.

"Learning shall be more learner-centred than teacher-centred where instruction shall incorporate learning content, skills and real-life experience," said Dr Laban Ayiro, a Ministry of Education consultant.

"Kenyans emphasised the need for use of participatory pedagogical approaches, experiments and field trips to relate learning to real life," said Jwan Julius of Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.

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