I want to thank Kenyans like Dr Simon Gicharu and Prof Laban Ayiro for publishing articles in the Kenyan dailies on the challenges facing our education sector.
Such views are needed as we reform our education sector. Such views are also needed to convince Kenyans that when there is mass failure in KCSE, the solution isn’t pointing fingers at the Education Cabinet Secretary and teachers, but sitting down and finding viable solutions.
I was among the pioneers of the 8-4-4 model, which has been discredited for decades. I’ve also taught and examined students of this model at secondary, college and university levels. With this wealth of experience, I’m proud to be counted among Kenyans who know the pains and fruits of the 8-4-4 model.
I want to harp on the 8-4-4 pains, so that they are avoided in the implementation process of the 2-6-3-3 model. My Swahili novel-manuscript, Wimbi la Tumaini, deals with the pains of 8-4-4, challenges the 2-6-3-3 system is bound to face and their possible solutions.
The first pain we had to endure while in Form 1 was rejection and bullying we endured from the 7-4-2-3 students and teachers. Despite this violation of our rights, we had nobody to report to.
Secondly, we lacked technical subjects we had learnt in primary school. We expected to learn music, art and crafts and home science, but they were nowhere.
Thirdly, was an overloaded syllabus that lacked teachers. In our class, we never learnt maths and physics while in Form 2. The maths and physics teachers we had did not want to teach our class because it was a ‘harambee’ and not a government stream.
Fourthly, we were taught by untrained teachers, some completely lacking teaching techniques and skills. They would come to class to discredit the 8-4-4 system and tell us how they would employ us as house boys after our secondary school education.
Moreover, there was lack of teaching and learning materials. Text-books were thin and shallow and we lacked laboratories.
With these numerous problems, our performance was more worse than what we saw in 2017. But there was hardly any complaint about mass failure and finger pointing at the minister of Education and teachers. Most students who passed highly from around 2005 to 2015 did not pass genuinely. There was plenty of cheating and thus they shouldn’t be used as a yardstick of good performance in KCSE.
Also, the idea of moderating KCSE results shouldn’t be entertained. If a candidate scores 50 marks in any subject, let him/her be awarded grade C. If such a student is awarded grade A or B+ just because it is maths or a science, the moderators will be engaging in exam cheating. It is this type of cheating that results into incompetent learners at higher levels and, later, in work places.
The writer is a lecturer, department of History, Archaeology and Political Studies at Kenyatta University the 2015 winner of Tuzo ya Ubunifu ya Fasihi