Kenya has had different education systems since the colonial period. There was the 7-4-2-3 East African Community System from 1967 to 1977. Then the East African Community collapsed, and the 7-4-2-3 was maintained until 1985. The system that followed was the 8-4-4 system which ran all the way to recently in 2017 when the 2-6-3-3-3 was initiated and intends to be applied to the entire system. This new system is said to glorify content mastery over everything else. The 8-4-4 system was a debate for a long time since its implementation with experts referring to the 32-year-old policy as “mindless” and “radical” paving the way for the need for a new system.
Problems with the 8-4-4
- Broad, Burdensome and Expensive. Experts have admonished this system because of its sole focus on books neglecting the crucial lessons of confidence, life skills, and specialization. It tests more on student’s ability to remember that the skills the student has gathered.
- Strikes. Since 2001, the 8-4-4 system has incurred a large number of strikes both from the educators and the learners. Such strikes have put education at a standstill wasting a lot of time that could instead be instrumental in gaining of skills.
- Generally poor in quality. If an education system does not focus on the needs of the students, then it does not provide the basic needs of education.
- Inception was politically motivated. Former President Daniel Arap Moi introduced the 8-4-4 system and had since the strongly advocated for it. After he was out of the presidency and the general feeling was that there was a need to change the system, he actively championed for it claiming that it had pushed Kenya to international standards yet ignoring the large numbers of people who had gone through the system and faced issues such as lack of kills.
An Overview 2-6-3-3-3 System
The new 2-6-3-3-3 system that begun its implementation in 2017 and applied in January 2018 promises to fix the problems that the previous system could not. Unlike 8-4-4 that was focused on training students for employment, the news system has incorporated the new needs with regards to technological advancement globally.
The subjects to be taught in the lower primary section of the education system are English, Social Studies, Agriculture, Science and Kiswahili for two years.
In the upper primary, the subjects will be Kiswahili, Mathematics, English, Agriculture, Physical Education, Home Science, Science and Technology for six years.
Both Junior and Senior Secondary education will each be three years. After junior secondary, students will start specializing in their prominent skills which they will then move forward with them to senior secondary school. After senior secondary, learners will now be graduates provided with the opportunity to join a vocational training center or straight to university for three years.
Advantages of the 2-6-3-3-3 system in comparison to the 8-4-4 system.
- Skills-oriented instead of exam oriented. The system will focus on getting the students to know themselves better and therefore, providing an opportunity for invention and innovation. Instead of testing for memory, the continuous assessment tests will aim at ensuring an endless opportunity for improvement.
- Allows for specialization. While 8-4-4 was issued with a promise for employment, 2-6-3-3-3 will be implemented with a pledge of self-sufficiency. Such a system will be significant due to the large numbers of unemployed educated graduates in the country right now. If the system successfully implements its agenda, then these students will not have to wait for employment after school but will instead apply their skills to solve societal problems.
- No Cheating in Exams. 8-4-4 received massive criticism over cheating in examinations. In the new system, there will be no final examinations as continuous assessments will replace them, therefore, aim to lower the number of students strikes and destruction of property countrywide as there will be no fear of a final fate determiner in the form of a national examination.
The next generation is for innovators, talented and skilled people. People that will be to adjust according to the changing technologies each day. The age of learners will require a means of implementation of the country’s century and millennium goals of social development, social mobility, economic development, and national cohesion. The state will need appropriately trained people to stir in the next phase of the county which is as of now a very fast developing country. 8-4-4 might have served and fulfilled the purpose in the 1980s but became absolute the moment there were more educated people and no jobs to assign them. The 2-6-3-3-3 system remains on trial and many express concerns over taking students through a trail system, but the general feeling is that this could be what we needed twenty years ago.