Out goes old 8-4-4 system, in comes CBC

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021 00:00 |
Uhuru Kenyatta - Launch of the Report on Implementation of Competency Based Curriculum.

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday unveiled a new education system to replace the decades-old 8-4-4 curriculum.

The new system will also see the Kenya Certificate of Primary EducationExamination, which is administered to Standard Eight candidates, replaced with continuous assessment tests from Grade Four.

“Given that the challenges of our times call us to respond using our education system, we can only succeed through designing and implementing a fit-for-purpose education system,” said the President.

Releasing the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), Uhuru said the 8-4-4 system, in place since 1985, must now give way to a new system of educating children based on competencies as opposed to an exam-oriented approach. 

“The report we launch today could not be more timely. Indeed, it marks a turning point in our education system.

Every epoch in our nation has placed a unique set of demands on the skills and competencies needed in the workplace, which in turn has required us to reform and recalibrate the content and architecture of our  education system. 

We are marking the third transition since independence,” said the President.

The new system, the President announced, will be administered by a fully-fledged State department that will oversee, monitor and fast-track its implementation.

The proposed entity, under the Ministry of Education, will be known as the State Department for Curriculum Reforms at Ministry of Education.

Taps expertise 

“I have established a new State Department for Curriculum Reforms at the Education ministry.

We need the experts to continue with the work. This is not about politics, not where you come from but about equipping our children with the best long after we are gone,” said the President.

It will tap expertise from a wide range of professions, including members of the task force on curriculum implementation.

The President was speaking in Nairobi when he launched the taskforce report on education reforms, which contains recommendations on implementation of CBC, which was attended by senior Education ministry officials, led by Cabinet Secretary, Prof George Magoha and other stakeholders in the sector.

“This is not just my report, it is our report; it is about the future of our children. It is about equipping them and tooling them to face the future,” the Head of State added.

The report is the product of a taskforce on enhancing access, relevance, transition and quality for effective curriculum reform implementation which Prof Magoha appointed in June 2019.

The team was chaired by Prof Fatuma Chege, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Kenyatta University, and drew members from various sectors, including representatives of heads of primary and secondary schools, association of private schools, faith-based organisations and civil society organisations.

Report highlights transition of primary Grade Six learners to Junior Secondary Grade Seven and domiciling of Junior Secondary School (JSS) Grades  Seven, Eight and Nine within the basic education structure, transition of JSS learners to Senior Secondary School (SSS) Grades 10, 11 and 12.

It also informs the transition from Basic to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), from Basic to University Education; positioning Special Needs Education (SNE) as well as foregrounding Competency Based Assessment (CBA) at all levels of learning.

Making a summary of the report, Prof Chege said Junior Secondary School (JSS) Grades Seven, Eight  and Nine will be domiciled in the Secondary Education level. 

“This is informed by the fact that it is at Junior Secondary School that learners will need to deepen their understanding of the broad CBC curriculum and choose the pathways and tracks to follow in Senior Secondary School,” she said.

The scholar said the current primary school level lacks capacity, both in human resource and infrastructure, to facilitate the expected depth of engagement with the JSS CBC content. 

She added that soliciting JSS at Secondary School level will optimise teacher utilisation as they will teach at both Junior and Senior Secondary School levels.

Learners who, in 2022, will be in primary school Grade Six under the 2-6-6-3 Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) and those in Standard 8 of the 8-4-4 education system, will concurrently transition to Junior Secondary Grade Seven and Secondary Form One, respectively.

For effectiveness of transition from Primary to Secondary education of the CBC and 8-4-4 cohorts and domiciling of JSS in the Basic Education structure, the report states that critical issues that will influence the double transitions need to be addressed. These include a 27 per cent increase in Secondary School learner population in 2023 from 4,381,701 to 6,029,168.

As far as assessment is concerned, the taskforce has recommended that Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) assumes its leadership role in both policy and strategy for overall assessments at the Basic education.

According to the taskforce, assessment at pre-primary level will be administered by classroom teachers to inform not only learning progress but also assess readiness for transition to primary school and advise on required interventions and appropriate placement, especially for children with special needs as well as the talented and gifted.

“KNEC will be responsible for building the capacities of teachers to develop the assessment tools.

Assessment at primary level will be mainly formative,” says the report. In Grades One to Three, teachers will be expected to conduct classroom assessment, and at Grade Three, KNEC will develop a standardised assessment tools to be administered, scored and feedback given to individual learners by teachers in their respective schools. 

“The schools will submit the results for each learner in a designated format to KNEC to facilitate analysis of achievement of competencies at national level.

The report from KNEC will guide the teachers receiving the transition Grade Four and advise the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in developing content for continuous teacher professional development that targets area, says the report.

“Assessments in upper primary will align to a policy governing the balance between formative and summative to assess comprehensively the mastery of multifarious competencies of different learners as well as facilitate placement of learners in Junior Secondary School,” reads the report. 

Summative assessment

The mode of assessment will entail a combination of teacher-administered formative assessment in Grades Four, Five and Six, and a summative assessment to be administered by KNEC at the end of Grade Six. 

“The proposed weighting is 60 per cent for formative and 40 per cent for summative assessment.

The summative assessment is prompted by the need to allow learners from across the country to access schools, which have superior infrastructure and a culture of good performance, thus enhancing equity,” the taskforce states.

Assessment at Junior and Senior Secondary school will be both formative and summative at the end of the cycle.

The report states that the JSS assessment will facilitate placement in Senior Secondary School Pathways and Tracks, while the Senior Secondary School assessment will facilitate transition into Tertiary and University Education and Training.

At Senior Secondary School, learners will have the opportunity to do dual certification by enrolling for TVET qualifications, depending on their abilities and career interests.

Assessment of learners with disabilities and special needs, including the gifted and talented, will be determined by the nature and severity of the disability and special need. 

“For learners with ability to follow the regular curriculum, KNEC will adapt the assessment items, while also providing appropriate time during assessment administration for learners with disabilities,” says the report.

Policies and regulations will be expected to have provisions for schools to run different options to implement the structure of basic education.

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