CBC New Kenya Education System

Education and CommunicationsCBC New Kenya Education System
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CBC stands for Competency Based Curriculum.This is the new education system in Kenya that is currently set to replace the 8-4-4 education system. CBC New Kenya Education System

The system was introduced in 2017. The CBC was researched and developed by KICD (Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development). This new curriculum is here to stay as it had been gradually introduced and is steadily replacing 8-4-4 education cycle. At this point in time, 8 (of the 8-4-4 cycle) consisting of 8 years of primary education is being dismantled into a 6 year term. As such all and one need to get acquainted with this new system.

This article gives a definitive guide on the new Compentency Based Curriculum cycle that learners under its care will transition to reach their careers.

The new 2-6-3-3-3 curriculum that will replace the 32-year-old 8-4-4 system will be rolled out in January amid cries by teacher unions that the program is being rushed.

Education CS Fred Matiang’i has maintained that there was sufficient stakeholder consultation on the changes adding that the launch cannot be delayed.

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This will be the second time the country will be adopting a new curriculum since the 1985 change-over from the 7-4-2-3 system.

This model comprised 7 years of primary education, 4 years of lower secondary, 2 years of upper secondary (form 5-6) and 3 years for a university course.


The system was phased out because it was deemed unsuitable for the changing aspirations of Kenyans and the labour market which was slowly beginning to embrace technology.

The programme laid emphasis on academics as opposed to orienting learners for employment. It also failed to cater for the critical pre-primary level of schooling for children under six years.

The 8-4-4 system was adopted to seal those gaps but the curriculum soon came under criticism for churning out school leavers suited only for white-collar jobs.

The argument has been that the curriculum neglected the sectors which accelerate economic growth such as agriculture, construction, and fishing.

An influx of white-collar job trainees over time created a skills imbalance in the job market, resulting in one of Kenya’s biggest obstacles to development – youth unemployment, which currently stands at 40 per cent.

This ignited the desire by the government to include Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as a key component of Vision 2030.

Roughly, Kenya requires 30,000 technologists, 90,000 technicians and over 400,000 craftsmen to attain the mega projects under Vision 2030.

The 8-4-4 system has also been criticised for being too expensive, broad and burdensome to learners with the latter being largely blamed for causing strikes in schools.

Even then, the system is credited for streamlining university enrolment by creating a level playing ground for both the poor and the rich.

Previously, the rich would send their children to foreign universities after O-level leaving those from humble backgrounds to tackle Form 5 and 6 for university admission.

2-6-3-3-3 system of Education

The new curriculum has been touted as the ultimate remedy to limitations identified in the 8-4-4 system because it is entirely skills-based.

It was piloted this year between May and September across 470 schools – 10 in each county.


Learners will not sit exams but they will be evaluated through Continuous Assessment Tests (CATs) on the skills acquired as opposed to cramming for exams as has been the case.

Experts are of the view that it will enable learners to develop beyond academics and also focus on how best they can use their specific talents to make a living.

The needs of special needs children have also been incorporated in the curriculum which will integrate ICT at all levels of education.

The 2-6-3-3-3 model places emphasis on formative years of learning where learners will spend a total of eight years – 2 in pre-primary and six in primary.

Subjects to be taught in lower primary are Kiswahili, English, literacy, and mother tongue as well as science, social studies and agricultural activities.

Upper primary will include Kiswahili, English, Mathematics, Home Science, Agriculture, Science and Technology, Creative Arts (art, craft and music), Moral and Life Skills and Physical and Health Education.

Others are social studies (citizenship, geography and history) with an option of a foreign language (French, German, Chinese and Arabic).

Junior Secondary (grades 7, 8 and 9) and Senior Secondary Education (grades 10,11 and 12) will each take three years.

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Twelve core subjects will be taught at junior secondary – Mathematics, Kiswahili, English, life skills, health education, social studies, integrated science, business studies, religious education, agriculture, life skills, sports and physical education.)

Learners at this level will also be required to take a minimum of one and a maximum of two optional subjects that suit their career choices, personalities, abilities and interests.

Home science, foreign languages, Kenyan sign language, indigenous languages, visual arts, performing arts, Arabic and computer science will be optional at junior secondary.

Learners at senior secondary (ages 15-17) will focus on three areas of specialization depending on their skills, talents and interests.

These are arts and sports science, social sciences and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Graduates from this level will have the option to join vocational training centres or pursue university education for three years.

However, the new curriculum will require heavy spending to equip teachers with the necessary skills and tools.

This is because learning will mostly incorporate practical sessions as opposed to oral teaching.

Teacher shortage will also take a heavy toll on most schools considering one teacher will only be required to handle a small group of pupils.

The deficit stood at 87,000 teachers at the beginning of this year while the Teachers Service Commission said in June it was hiring only 5,000 new teachers.

TSC CEO Nancy Macharia said in a public notice that some 2,205 of the teachers would be deployed to primary schools while 2,795 would be sent to secondary schools, leaving the deficit at 82,000 teachers.


Currently, TSC has an annual budget of about Sh200 billion for the slightly over 300,000 teachers on its payroll.

The commission was allocated Sh2 billion in the current financial year to hire new teachers.

Teachers unions demanded that TSC must hire more than 90,000 teachers if the current deficit is to be addressed and an expected student influx in January handled effectively.

Infrastructure also remains a major challenge that needs to be addressed even as the Education ministry said in May it had allocated Sh6 billion towards that venture.

Infrastructural development is vital because the government intends to achieve 100 per cent primary-secondary transition at the onset of Free Secondary Education in January.

Kenya’s Education System Cycle History
The Kenya education system started out with 7-4-2-3 system, a formal education system introduced by the British Colonial rule in 1963. The education cycle comprised of :

  • 7 years in primary school
  • 4 years in lower secondary school
  • 2 years in upper secondary school
  • 3 years(minimum) in university education

Then it was replaced by 8-4-4 system in 1985. Which consisted of:

  • 8 years in primary school
  • 4 years in secondary school
  • 4 years(minimum) in university education

The new education system was introduced in 2017 with a 2-6-3-3-3 system consisting of:

  • 2 years in pre-primary education
  • 6 years in primary education
  • 3 years in junior secondary education
  • 3 years in senior secondary education
  • 3 years(minimum) in university education

CBC Education System
The Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) consist of 2-6-3-3-3 education cycle. Every learner shall transition through a minimum of 17 levels, every level as period of 1 year. The KICD has grouped them into 4 general categories:

  • Early Year Education (Pre-Primary & Lower Primary)
  • Middle School (Upper Primary & Lower Secondary)
  • Senior School (Upper Secondary)
  • Tertiary Education (TVET or University)

What used to be called Subjects are now known as Learning Areas. Topics are known as Strands and Sub-topics called Sub-Strands.

Early Year Education (EYE)
This level bestows mastery of basic skills upon the learners. This group consist of 2 sub-categories:

  • Pre-Primary
  • Lower Primary


This first entry takes a period of 2 years, a learner enters the education system at the minimum age 4 of years old. The first class is PP1 short for Pre-Primary 1 followed by PP2 (Pre-Primary 2). This is what used to be referred to as Nursery. Prior to this entry level, the Day-Care also exists. It takes 1 year but is not a requirement.
Lower Primary
After Pre-Primary, the learner enters the Grade level. This consist of:

  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 3

In order to proceed to Middle School, the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) will have learners sit an exam or rather assessment, this together with a combination of class-based assessment shall determine if a learner is fit to proceed to the next level.

Middle School
A learner at this level is said to be in Middle School, this consist of:

  • Upper Primary
  • Lower Secondary

Upper Primary
Consist of 3

  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 6 

At the end of Grade 6, KNEC will have them sit for an assessment, to determine the readiness for the Lower Secondary Level.

Lower Secondary
When learners has 3 levels, consisting of:

  • Grade 7
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 9

At the end of Grade 9, KNEC will have them sit for an assessment, to determine the readiness for the Senior School.

Senior School
At this stage, learners now start to specialize based on their career choices. Time taken here, will enable them to see where they fit in their career.
Careers are generally categorized into:

  • Arts & Sports Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • STEM

Based on the category the learner has decided, the learner will transition in

  • Grade 10
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12

After this, the learner based on their career choices will either attend a Technical and Vocational Educational and Training (TVET) or University or can engage in entrepreneurial business.

University education
If they choose tertiary education and training, they will undergo a minimum of 3 years. Some careers of cause require longer time frames

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