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KCPE will be no more in four years

Wednesday November 20 2019

Uhuru Kenyatta, KCPE

President Uhuru Kenyatta receives the 2019 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) national examinations results from Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha on November 18, 2019. PHOTO | PSCU 

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The countdown to the phasing out of KCPE is well on course with the release of this year’s results.

Only four KCPE examination cycles remain before the primary school summative examination, which has caused anxiety and celebration in equal measure since 1985, is replaced with the Competency-Based curriculum (CBC) assessment.


The last KCPE group will be in 2023, when learners who were in Standard Four this year will sit the examination.

The pioneer CBC class who were in Grade Three this year will transition from primary education in 2022 without undergoing a summative test. They will all proceed to junior secondary.

The phasing out of examinations at the end of the primary school course was announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta during a conference on CBC in August.


National examinations in Kenya have been largely a cut-throat affair that has bred vices like cheating and rote learning.

The summative examinations have been replaced with continuous assessments, where teachers describe the learners’ attainment of skills learnt according to the expected outcomes as opposed to awarding marks. 

The pioneer class has already gone through a national assessment this year as they completed their lower primary.


The Kenya National Examinations Council has a lot to learn from that exercise, as its execution had some shortcomings.

In 2023, as the last of the 8-4-4 system learners prepare for the KCPE examination, their juniors will be in their first year of junior secondary (Grade 7).

 However, as the CBC learners will spend longer (six years) in secondary school, the last 8-4-4 class will graduate from secondary school one year ahead of them in 2027.

The government still has some grey areas that require clarity regarding the transition into CBC. One major question has been the criteria to be used to place learners in junior secondary, since there will be no placement examinations.


In June this year, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha set up a task force to undertake a broad stakeholder engagement, review literature and identify international best practices before preparing a comprehensive report on the CBC implementation. The team was given one year to complete its mandate.

Prof Magoha on Monday exuded confidence ahead of the Grade Four roll-out in January next year. He announced that 14 million books have been printed and distribution to schools is expected to be completed by next month.

There will also be infrastructural challenges expected with the upsurge in student numbers in secondary school. Though most primary school teachers have been trained on the CBC, their secondary counterparts are yet to go through the training.