The new education system developed to replace the discredited 8-4-4 could finally be implemented in May on a pilot basis in lower primary schools, documents seen by the Sunday Nation reveal.
The system, which places emphasis on continuous assessment tests (CATs) over one-off examinations, will then be rolled out in January next year covering nursery, Standard One, Two and Three.
The revelation comes ahead of a major conference on the curriculum scheduled for January 30 that will discuss the proposed system and schedules.
In 2019, the system is expected to be rolled out in Standard Four to Six and in 2020 it will cover Standard Seven, Eight and Form One.
In 2021, the system will be extended to Form Two only and in the following year it will cover Form Three.
In 2023, it will be rolled out in Form Four.
The new system replaces the current Standard One to Form Four with Grade 1 to Grade 12.
It has been categorised into three phases: Early Years Education covering nursery education to Grade 3, Middle School Education covering Grade 4 to Grade 9 and Senior School covering grades 10 to 12.
A National Basic Education Curriculum Framework (NBECF) implementation plan developed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) and seen by the Sunday Nation shows that the last Standard Eight candidates to sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination will tackle the exam in 2019, while the last Form Four to sit the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination will write the papers in 2022.
The system will only involve students below Standard Six.
“The current Standard Six pupils (2016 class and above) will not have the opportunity to go through the NBECF (2017),” states the plan.
This year, KICD is expected to develop learning materials and teaching guides for pre-primary and Class One to Six, also known as Grade 1 to Grade 6.
“In-service re-tooling of current pre-primary and G1 to G6 teachers in the competence based curriculum content, competencies, instruction and assessment will be done this year,” states the report.
After its implementation starting January 2018, KICD will embark on retraining upper primary teachers (Grade 4 to Grade 6) on the new system’s demands and requirements.
In 2018, KICD will concentrate on developing learning materials and teaching guides for G7 to G9 which is Lower Secondary.
“In-service re-tooling of G7 to G9 teachers in competency based curriculum content, competencies, instruction and assessment will be done,” adds the report.
Teachers teaching Grades 7 to 9 will be trained on the new system starting 2019 during which period KICD will also complete the development of learning materials and teaching guides for senior secondary covering grades 10 to 12.
There will also be in-service training for teachers teaching grades 10 to 12 on the new system.
The training will cover the new system’s content, competencies, instruction and assessment.
The proposal to scrap the 8-4-4 system was first contained in a 2012 report by a task force chaired by Prof Douglas Odhiambo.
It instead recommended a 2-6-3-3-3 system aimed at “ensuring learners acquire competencies and skills to meet the human resource aspirations of the Vision 2030 blueprint”.
The current system has been widely criticised for being expansive, heavily loaded with content and too examinations-oriented, which puts undue pressure on learners.
In the early years’ category, students will spend two years in pre-primary and three years in lower primary.
The middle school level of education will comprise three years of upper primary and three years of junior secondary education.
The framework states that by the time learners complete early years education, they should be able to demonstrate basic literacy and numeracy skills and communicate appropriately using verbal and/or non-verbal modes.
Under upper primary, learners will be exposed to a broad curriculum and given an opportunity for exploration and experimentation.
According to the framework, at Grade 4, learners will be introduced to the optional subjects offered at upper primary so as to make informed choices at Grade 7.
“Graduates of primary school Grade 6 shall join lower secondary at Grade 7. Lower secondary will expose the learners to a broad-based curriculum to enable them to explore their own abilities, personality and potential as a basis for choosing subjects according to career paths of interest at the senior school,” it adds.
In the senior school category, learners in the age bracket of 15 to 17 years, will spend three years.
This level lays the foundation for further education and training at the tertiary level and the world of work.
Students in secondary school will also specialise in the subjects they wish to pursue in tertiary institutions.
A student will take two core subjects irrespective of the pathway identified.
They include community service learning covering life skills, citizenship, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and research and physical education.
“The pathways provide the learner with opportunities to begin specialisation in a specific area of personality, interest, ability and career choice,” adds the framework.
KICD believes that the new curriculum will give every child in Kenya an opportunity to thrive – and no child will be left behind while teachers will be empowered to approach teaching and assessment in a more effective way that will secure high standards for all.
“(The system) will meet the needs of the country by transforming society through human and economic development and enabling the fulfilment of Vision 2030,” adds KICD in its proposal.
It is critical of the current education system and says there is a need to nurture young people’s talents and interests in preparation.
The argument is that the system, as is currently structured, does a poor job of producing students that can thrive in the current highly competitive global marketplace.
“Assessment is summative (assessment of learning) rather than formative (assessment for learning), which has led to a disproportionate emphasis on competition rather than acquiring knowledge and skills. This has contributed to increased dropout rates and high unemployment,” the developers of the new system argue.
It goes on: “The curriculum will provide opportunities to identify the potential that every learner brings to school and to nurture this potential through the learning pathways provided at senior secondary school. No child should be labelled a failure at the end of basic education.”
Education expert Dr John Mugo told the Sunday Nation that introduction of a new curriculum was a weighty matter and the ministry should not be in a rush to roll it out for political expediency.
“There is a need for a communication strategy so that stakeholders understand it at all levels,” said the expert, who works with Uwezo Kenya, a think-tank that focuses on education matters.