Mar 14, 2019

What is the philosophy of the new education curriculum in Kenya?

Kenya is in the process of implementing the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) to replace the much criticized 8-4-4 system. This in itself is a noble course. However, many questions have been raised regarding the driving philosophy behind the change. Is it because the previous system(s) has become completely obsolete or is it because we have crafted a better philosophy which can be best transmitted in the new system? For many countries which have succeeded in implementation of a system akin to ours, the underlying philosophy has been the urge to prepare a better generation for tomorrow. Is that the motivation in our case?

In February’s edition of the monthly Philosophers’ Breakfast held at Strathmore University, Dr. Vincent Ogutu, a career teacher and Vice Chancellor Designate of Strathmore University, sought to share critical details regarding the new system.

By law, a system of education in Kenya has to be reviewed after a period of time. This being the case, the 8-4-4 system was due for review. However, every time there is a review, the country has a new opportunity to inculcate specific skills and competencies, which at the time are deemed fit for the future. While this is not any different for CBC, there is more to be derived from it than just the skills and competencies.

The system aims to inculcate dynamic values and instill virtues to help us flourish in our daily activities. The 8-4-4 was a teacher-based system, where the teacher was at the centre of learning. This will not be the case anymore. The CBC aims to be a more student-based system, with more focus on the ability of the student to self- learn and develop relevant skills requisite for any engagement carried out. This way of thinking is perhaps informed by the opening up of the world, which has been spurred by the internet explosion.

With this, the pressure for academic performance will be eased. However, there will be more focus on the specific skills for each individual student and the unique abilities of students. Generally speaking, it will give a chance to everyone, not only those endowed academically. This will be done in an environment of freedom and responsibility.

From the face of it, the system looks like a magic bullet. However, it comes against the backdrop of challenges inherited from the previous system(s). Will the employers adapt to the new system and give more focus to skills than grades in their considerations? Are the teachers prepared to take on the challenge of change? Are we ready for a decentralized assessment and evaluation? How about the numerous challenges facing the quality and accessibility of learning materials?

While these are challenges we have to deal with, Dr. Ogutu agrees with the view of the government that, we are better off with the challenges of the new system, rather than stick to 8-4-4. What do you think? Is the philosophy of inculcating values timely?


Join us for March’s edition of Philosophers Breakfast, and let’s discuss what matters to us. Email-

This article was written by Gabriel Dinda.

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