Kenyan Government declares an end to the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) ​National examination ​as it rolls out the new ​Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC)

The countdown to the end of Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination has officially kicked off with only four years left to the death of the decades-old tests that were a hallmark of cut-throat competition. The final KCPE exam will be sat tentatively in the year 2023. The Kenya Government, after years of trying, has finally decided to change the system of education from 8-4-4, which adopted 8 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary education and 4 years of University education to the 2-6-3-3-3 competency-based curriculum system. Under  the new 2-6-3-3-3 education system, learners will spend two years at pre-primary before proceeding to Primary School Grade 1 to 6. They will then transit to Junior Secondary School (Grade 7 to 9) before joinig Senior Secondary School (Grade 10 to 12). University Education will last for a standard three years.

Kenyan family celebrates their daughter who passed very highly and was amongst the top 10 best performed candidates in the 2018 KCPE exam.
Picture Courtesy: The Standard, Kenya

With the new program, Grades 7, 8 and 9 will be domiciled in junior secondary schools with more focus on child development thus effectively bringing to an end the examination-based learning culture. The Kenya Government has assured that all learners including those with disabilities will be given equal opportunity to excel in their areas of abilities and interests, underpinned by the comprehensive value-based education. The Government has also confirmed that there will be no examinations in Grade 6, to facilitate a 100 percent transition from primary school to secondary schools. Kenya has not been able to achieve this during the 8-4-4 system, mainly due to failures in KCPE examinations. However, there will still be an examination after Grade 9 and Grade 12. Grade 12 is an equivalent of the present Form Four which means there will be an examination to enable central placement of students to Universities and colleges. The new education system guarantees elimination of non-discriminate national examinations and introduces learner assessments at a more fair personalized scope.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently said the new reforms in the education curriculum are necessary to ensure the provision of quality education that provides learners with relevant skills to become competitive in the fast-growing global economy. He assured that the government is committed to fully facilitate the reforms in the education sector as they are relevant in the realization of Kenya’s long-term goal of transforming the country into a newly industrialized middle-income economy that provides high quality of life to all citizens by the year 2030. He however, acknowledged existing challenges in the implementation of the CBC system and called on the support of all stakeholders in making the new curriculum a success. Additionally, he assured Kenyans that the government is working on improving the learning environment and infrastructure in all schools.

The CBC was rolled out in all Kenyan schools on January 3, 2019 for the two pre-primary school grades and additionaly for Primary School Grades 1, 2 and 3. The Kenyan Government has scheduled to roll out Grade 4 in January 2020, next year. The competence-based education program is purely practical and focuses on core skills that will enhance creativity to learners and enable them to apply these skills in the future. 

Note from Acting Aiducation Kenya CEO, George Jilani, on the changing curriculum and its effects on our merit-based scholarships

"We can only rejoice that this new change is progressive and will allow the young learners to focus more on their unique abilities, strengths and passions as they make career decisions from a very tender age. For us, the KCPE 350 mark has been our merit threshold while accepting new AiduSeekers into our scholarship application process and we will therefore have to rethink this with the removal of the national exam in a few years. The new assessment methods will be continuous based, secondary school will be split into 2 sections with 3 years each and the mix of young learners will now be grouped uniquely on ability and based on select subjects of study. This raises many questions relevant to Aiducation's running processes in Kenya. What merit criteria will we use to accept new AiduSeekers into our scholarship application process? Scholarships for Junior Secondary School only? Senior Secondary School only? Or both? How will all these changes affect the concept of our partner high schools in Kenya? Will most of them offer only a junior or senior secondary curriculum or both? Also, how will these new curriculum revisions stretch the already struggling education system with not enough trained teachers, overcrowded classrooms and limited teaching/learning materials? For Aiducation, what is more important is to understand the real funding gap arising with the new changes in Kenya - as the organization continues to scale its impact through empowering young people to rise up and build their own nations. We may have to revisit some aspects of the whole idea from an implementation point of view."

Written and edited by Boniface Mahulo and George Jilani.
Adapted from Capital News Kenya.

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