- After 38 years, the era of the KCPE exam in the country has ended.
- CBC will begin in earnest in 2024, and KPSEA will be the evaluation mode.
- Worth noting is that parents and guardians have all along received the system with mixed reactions.
By Brenda Nyamwaya
A whopping 2.6 million pupils have today, November 1, 2023, finished doing the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination, the last under the now-scrapped out 8-4-4 system.
For generations, it was a national highlight and a defining moment for many.
The exams anticipated at the end of each year have been a source of joy, hope, sadness, anxiety, and despair for many teachers, parents, and children.
The test was a doorway for some to join prestigious schools, and for those who did not pass, the formal education ended. But now, the decades-old 8-4-4 system has come to an end.
History of KCPE exams
The KCPE examinations were introduced in 1985 as part of the 8-4-4 system, which awarded certificates to students who had completed eight years of approved primary education.
These exams represent another entry into secondary education and are governed by the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC), an examination body under the Ministry of Education.
The structure of the 8-4-4 system consists of three stages: 8 years of primary school, 4 years of secondary school, and 4 years of university.
However, pre-school years are excluded.
This system primarily focuses on mastering content through large amounts of training. Its goal is to enhance the development of self-expression, discipline and independence.
Passing the exam is not enough.
This is the main reason why the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development decided to launch a Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) in 2017.
CBC is a rather new education system that aims to equip learners with the skills and competencies they need in the 21st century.
The Ministry of Education is now fully replacing the 8-4-4 system with CBC under the 2-6-6-3 system.
As KCPE national exams come to a phase-out, the exam set to replace it is the Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA), whereby learners will be taking the exam at grade 6.
The exam will act as a monitoring tool for the achievements attained by learners under the CBC system.
The first cohort sat for the exam last year together with the KCPE candidates class of 2022.
CBC is more learner-centered and personalized, allowing learners to choose their own learning pathways based on their interests, abilities, and talents.
It also covers how to improve students’ digital literacy by applying digital technologies to learning.
It will also be more practical and noticeable. This equips students with knowledge and skills that will help them in real-life situations.
Stakeholders believe this will open up many activities for students and provide them with a path to what they want to achieve in life.
In addition to this, CBC will encourage creativity, imagination and critical thinking in students.
Through this, teachers and parents will be able to identify the children’s talents quite early and nurture them.
This will be a great step in ensuring they boost self-employment and succeed in a competitive world.
The crucial soft skills gained from CBC will get the learners ready for artificial intelligence at an early age.
This will, as expected, prepare them well for the future compared to those who went through the 8-4-4 system.
Worth noting is that parents and guardians have all along received the system with mixed reactions.
Some have complained that CBC is very expensive and the economy is too burdensome.
Some of them claimed they were unfamiliar with the system and asked teachers to reduce the amount of homework given to students, for which the parents’ help was regularly needed.
However, John Mwangi, a parent from Nairobi, is glad that KCPE is over.
“Exams can be frustrating and discouraging. It has created great inequality in the society.
This has made education a privilege for the sharp-minded. Education is no longer everyone’s right.
I am very excited for my children to be able to showcase their talents and skills through the CBC system,” he says.
Government officials involved in the ongoing KCPE and KPSEA examinations have recognized the importance of this period in Kenya’s education history.
“This being the last KCPE exam, it is very significant in our country. It is a transition year as it marks the beginning of another era in which KPSEA will be the sole examination going forward. We expect maximum cooperation from those involved,” said the Cabinet Secretary of Transport, Kipchumba Murkomen.
The Cabinet Secretary of Education, Ezekiel Machogu, has promised to take appropriate action against the school principals who failed to register candidates for this important exam.
“KPSEA candidates represent the second cohort of the CBC class and will be joining grade seven, referred to as Junior Secondary School. There will be no tuition fee increase and we will ensure that the CBC system operates accordingly.
For those who failed to register all the candidates, we will summon them to provide answers as to why they failed to do so,” he said.
Parents have called on the government to provide resources to schools to improve equality among students.
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Will the complete roll-out of the CBC usher in a new age of knowledge-skills, or what should the parents expect their children to gain?