The recently introduced Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) in schools across Kenya is facing its biggest challenge as students are now facing the possibility of spending two extra years in school.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic that heavily disrupted the 2020 academic year, the 2-6-3-3-3 system under CBC could necessitate an extra year.
Prior to the pandemic, the new education system that was rolled out by the Ministry of Education mandated a 17-year-stay in school as opposed to the 8-4-4 system which totaled 16 years.
According to the Ministry, the current KCPE exams for Class 8 were to be replaced by a Grade 9 exam under the CBC, with the last KCPE Exams to be sat in 2023.
This could be adjusted to reflect the lost academic year, depending on the consensus reached by Education CS George Magoha and his special task force that is set to convene on November 4, 2020.
The CS is set to meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta and other stakeholders to iron out the way forward regarding the reopening of schools for all students.
“As far as the spike in Covid-19 is concerned, yes, it is spiking and it is not only spiking in this country and what we are grappling with is whether we open for other children or not. That decision, however, is yet to be formally made,” he said on Thursday during a tour of Uhuru Gardens Primary school in Lang'ata.
“The government is fully in control of the situation. My ministry and that of Health and Interior are working to ensure that the very best is given to our children,” he added.
Under the new CBC education system, all students will progress from 6 years of primary school to 3 years of junior school. They will then take national exams at the end of junior school, in Grade 9.
The last KCSE was to be sat in 2027, and this would be replaced by Grade 12 exams in 2028. However, the Ministry could be also forced to adjust this forward to accommodate the lost year.
The major difference between the 8-4-4 system and the new CBC system is that school is being restructured from 8-4-4 to 2-6-3-3-3.
All students take 2 years of Pre-primary, then 6 years of Primary, and then 3 years of Junior School. If you pass the Grade 9 exams at 15 at the end of Junior School, you can then go on to take 3 years of Senior School. University under CBC will be just 3 years instead of 4.
According to a proposal by the Education Task Force on Covid-19, primary and secondary schools should have reopened for the second term between October 5 and 19.
At the time, the reversal of the decision to cancel the entire 2020 school academic year came as a relief to parents, learners, book publishers and other education stakeholders, as it meant that students would not be forced to repeat classes.
This has proved to be a challenge following the surge of coronavirus cases in October 2020. A recent assessment carried out by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) showed that candidates were ill-prepared for their final-year examinations.
Prior to the partial reopening of schools in October 2020, children who were to begin pre-primary education would have had to wait until June 2021.
The current dilemma facing the Ministry in terms of safely reopening the schools for the rest of the students could imply that this is still the case.
Parents and other education players had also raised concerns about overage students sitting KCSE tests. A majority of Form Four students are aged 17 to 19.
The cycle would have been repeated until every current primary and secondary learner completes high school.
That means it would have taken more than 15 years to recover from the challenge of overage students. According to the ministry guidelines, pre-primary schools should only admit a child who is four years old.