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Farewell 8-4-4, a flawed but beautiful experience

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This year marked the culmination of an era as students sat for the last Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) under the 8-4-4 system in primary schools across Kenya. Similar to its inception, controversies surrounded its farewell.

I, having been among the first to experience the 8-4-4, missed the transition to the subsequent system due to a change in school and a repeat year.

Recollections take me back to my time at Buru Buru Primary School in class six, where uncertainty loomed about completing the old system or embracing the new one. Confusion prevailed, with many hoping to conclude with the familiar.

As we progressed to class seven, the ambiguity heightened, but the construction of new classrooms signalled the inevitable shift.

Buru Primary employed a categorization system - G for the diligent, R for the average and Y for those needing improvement.

Class seven introduced subjects like home science, where Mrs. Nyale taught us to make chapatis and pyjamas. In art and crafts, we constructed a mud hut with a thatched grass roof.

Being the pioneers of the 8-4-4 system at Buru Primary forged lasting friendships. Today, we remain connected as alumni, actively supporting our former school.

Miss Kasidi, our former head teacher, initially uncertain about the government’s stance, later confirmed an additional year in class seven. Despite challenges, our bond endured, and the standardization of marks, though impactful, didn’t define our potential.

Reflecting on the 8-4-4 benefits, the intention was noble - mirroring international school systems and fostering vocational education. However, the execution faltered with an overwhelming array of subjects. The curriculum evolved over the years, acknowledging the need for specialisation.

While some mocked the 8-4-4 as “8-4-4=0,” many of us, the pioneers, don’t regret the experience. It prepared us for secondary school, especially those in boarding schools, where maturity became an asset.

The hope now rests on the success of the upcoming education system, trusting that the government has carefully considered its implementation to avoid significant disruptions.

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