By Ouma Wanzala
A new education system that will replace the 8-4-4 was unveiled Monday and will phase out the national examinations currently done at the end of primary and secondary school cycles.
Unlike the current system that is heavily focused on examinations, the new one will be competency-based and will give more emphasis on identification of talents and nurturing them.
The new system puts emphasis on continuous assessment tests rather than end of cycle tests.
The focus is to equip learners with skills rather than having them cram and reproduce facts.
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Learners will take two years in early childhood education, three in lower primary, three in upper primary, three in lower secondary and three in senior secondary.
The National Basic Education Curriculum Framework that has been working on the system has not, however, indicated how many years will be spent in tertiary institutions.
According to the new framework, the new system will give every child a chance to succeed in life by carving out pathways that develop their interests and allow them to live and work locally, nationally and globally.
Initially, it had been planned that the new curriculum would be piloted in May and rolled out in January next year, but that is not conclusive yet.
This is because the syllabuses as well as teaching and learning materials have not been produced.
Neither has training been done for teachers nor the modules for teacher training been concluded.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, who launched the system at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, asked Kenyans to continue making suggestions on it with a view of improving it.
“We should make it better and avoid negative views,” he said and directed the Kenya Institute of Curriculum development to hold quarterly meetings with stakeholders to enrich the system, adding that the government had a specific budget for the review.
The new system is crafted around three levels — early, middle and senior schools — with a focus on continuous assessment tests as opposed to the summative evaluation that defines the 8-4-4.
In the initial plan, the curriculum should have been rolled out next year in pre-primary and lower primary schools. But this has not been concluded.
In the framework, the curriculum provides that pupils join pre-primary at the ages of four and five followed by lower primary at between six and nine years.
Middle school will comprise upper primary and junior school while graduates of junior school will branch out to either senior school, tertiary or higher education depending on their competencies.
They will also have the option of joining talent schools, general education on technical and vocational skills or basic education and training.
Under the new structure, pupils will progress from Grade 1 to Grade 12.
However, experts and teachers union leaders who attended yesterday’s national conference asked the government to allow for more consultations for the system to become acceptable and successful.
Religious leaders, led by National Council of Churches (NCCK) General-Secretary Peter Karanja said they supported the review.
Education scholar Gilbert Oluoch said the new system will be expensive because it will require re-training of teachers and the construction of more facilities to accommodate a higher transition rate.
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) cautioned the government against rushing the process without having re-trained the teachers who will implement it.
“At this time, observing the progress made, we feel that the process is being rushed because of signs that we are reading,” said Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion, warning that since the review was not a political flagship project, politics should be kept out of it.
“It is the teacher who needs to understand these reforms more than the curriculum developers who will never implement it,” Mr Sossion told the forum.
He also demanded that more time be allocated to testing the curriculum.
“In this case, considering the timelines given, 2018 school year may be the best timing for this pilot.
“We should create space for a good evaluation of the pilot outcomes, both internal and external and measure the results of the proposed changes.
“A rushed process, and one that is both implemented and measured by insiders may miss the target,” said Mr Sossion.
He added: “We need to carefully define the outcome levels that will measure success and carefully introduce sound measures that will inform the review.
“While it is important that KICD evaluates the process, we need to invest also in a external evaluator.
“This way we can guarantee that we shall deliver to Kenyans valuable reforms.”
Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori asked stakeholders to study the system keenly.
“Both angels and devils are in the details of the curriculum review process and therefore we must provide 21st century facilities for effective learning to take place,” he said.
Catholic Bishop Alfred Rotich asked stakeholders and the government to be open on the review and not to introduce contentious issues such as sex education.
The system gives students in secondary school a chance to specialise in the subjects they wish to pursue in tertiary institutions and learning areas have been divided into three categories: arts and sports, social sciences and science and technology, engineering and mathematics.
Under sports, students will pursue games, performing arts and visual arts while social science options will be languages and literature, humanities and business studies.
The third option will have pure and applied sciences, engineering and technical studies.
Subjects to be taught in lower primary will include literacy, Kiswahili, English and indigenous languages, as well as mathematical and environmental activities (science, social and agriculture activities).
In upper primary, pupils will be taught Kiswahili, English, home science, agriculture, science and technology, mathematics, religious studies, moral and life skills, creative arts (art, craft and music), physical and health education, social studies (citizenship, geography and history) with an option of foreign languages (Arabic, French, German, Chinese) and indigenous languages.
At junior secondary, a learner will be required to take the 12 core subjects — including English, Kiswahili, mathematics, integrated science, health education, pre-technical and pre-vocational education, social studies, religious education, business studies, agriculture, life skills education, sports and physical education.
They will also take a minimum of one and a maximum of two subjects according to personalities, abilities, interests and career choices.
The optional subjects are home science, computer science, performing arts, foreign languages, Kenya Sign Language, indigenous languages and visual arts.
In senior secondary, a student will take two core subjects irrespective of the pathway identified.
They include community service learning (life skills, citizenship, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and research) and physical education.
Source : Daily Nation