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The long road to curriculum reform

By Augustine Oduor | March 31st 2016

Complete curriculum reforms were last done 30 years ago during the major shift from the 7–4–2–3 system to the 8–4–4 system in 1985.

7–4–2–3 was geared towards white-collar jobs while 8-4-4 was a more practical curriculum.

The aim of the reform was to develop a curriculum that would help learners to gain practical skills and competencies for self-reliance.

Under the 8–4–4 system, emphasis was laid on practical subjects such as Art and Craft, Woodwork, Home Science, Agriculture and Music.

However, in 2002, there was a review of the curriculum and subjects were reduced to lessen the workload of the learners. During the review, some of the subjects were dropped and others were merged, with the most affected being the practical subjects. And in 2009, a comprehensive evaluation of the primary and secondary education was carried out and the findings indicated that most of the learners exiting the education system at secondary level did not have adequate skills and competences to join the job market.

Gaps in agricultural skills, entrepreneurial skills, innovation and creativity and ICT skills were identified. But the promulgation of the Constitution also impelled essential change in the administrative and organisational structures of various offices and services. Vision 2030 also touched on issues related to education. The development also prompted the need to streamline the running of the county and national governments as well as other fundamental institutions.

And so in 2010, another shot towards reforming the curriculum was taken with the setting up of the Douglas Odhiambo task force on the 'Re-alignment of education and training to the Constitution of Kenya.'

The task force's report laid more emphasis on structuring of the curriculum within a skills and competencies framework that identifies the competencies to be acquired at each level. But it has still not been feasible to effect the wider changes in the curriculum review.

The ongoing comprehensive reforms exercise therefore aims at shifting the curriculum from a subject-based to a competence-based curriculum.

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