Should We Abandon The 8-4-4 System Entirely Or Should We Fix It?

Recent days have seen a debate ensue on whether the Competency-Based Curriculum 2-6-3-3-3 should be rolled out to replace the 8-4-4 education system or should the ministry just fix the current system. Some have shown support to the president on the rollout, some have come out to strongly oppose it while some don’t really care about the curriculum change years since the 1985 transition from 7-4-2-3 after introducing 8-4-4 in 1985.

The question however is, should we rectify the 8-4-4 system or should we abandon it and move on to a brand new curriculum? CBS will see leaners go through 2 years in pre-primary, 6 years in primary, 3 years in junior secondary, 3 years in senior secondary and 3 more years in a higher learning institution.

For starters, the new curriculum is very attractive, not only is it particularly engaging but also provides a seamless transition to employment may it be self or otherwise.

The 2-6-3-3-3 system reminds me of the 7-4-2-3 that comprised 7 years of primary education, 4 years of lower secondary, 2 years of upper secondary (form 5-6) and 3 years for a university course. The curriculum oriented learners to employment through practical lessons and also embraced industries that later came to be forsaken by the academics oriented system, the 8-4-4 comprising of 8 years Primary education, 4 years secondary education and 4 years of higher learning.

The 8-4-4 system brought about white collar jobs taking away from industries like agriculture, construction and fishing among other economic activities that previously contributed largely to Kenya’s GDP. This then explains why the government is in a hurry to launch the curriculum to match the Big four agenda; manufacturing, universal healthcare, affordable housing, and food security.

The 2-6-3-3-3 is an imitation of the 7-4-2-3 only that now the digital aspect has been emphasized on. It is a brilliant idea and one that would catapult our children to great heights of intellect but are we ready for an overhaul really?


The education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed came out to announce the suspension of the CBS education owing to the fact that the ministry was not ready to accommodate it, only for the president to contradict her statement later.

According to CS Amina, the roll out of the system was not thought through and this would mean a blot in the system. For instance, she talks about inadequate training and infrastructure to sustain the system as well as the need to have clear guidelines to avoid gaps within grades.

However this was not taken lightly by some stakeholders and members of the parliament who came out to condemn her dare in stopping the roll out. Whether the opposition to postpone the launch was for the better of our children or personal gain, she ended up looking like a puppet whose puppeteer got tired of pulling the strings and had to come out and show face. But critically looking at it, our schools are not CBS ready, I know, its sounds like pessimism but it’s the raw truth.


The new system will need a big budget to cater for trainers and equipment to be used in some of the courses taken, The shortage in teachers does not provide the right conditions for the involving and intense curriculum, the misguided focus on digital education means that some leaners will miss out on such for lack of infrastructure, Hurried training and lack of course books shows how vague the ministry is about this.

For example, rolling out a system that emphasizes digital savviness yet thousands of schools in Kenya do not have electricity beats the sense of it. Today, we still have pupils and students sitting under trees for lack of infrastructure, writing on sand for lack of books or alternative material, yet they are expected to transition to CBS.

The only sane move would be fixing the system by degrees. The overhaul risks destabilizing the learners and the parents as well in what might turn out to be a disaster in one of the sectors Kenya depends on. If we proceed with the rollout, this will mean only learners in urbanized schools will experience the Competency-Based Education


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