The new Competency Based Curriculum is still in its pilot phase; yet opinions are still divided over the need to phase out 8-4-4. Some say that the problem is not the system, but the content. But what else is a system if not the content? Others may cite the number of professionals it has produced who have gone on to establish successful careers. But what percentage of the learners do this professionals account for? 8-4-4 has these fundamental flaws that should see all of us eager to bid it farewell:

  1. Spoon-feeding Theoretical Information

The systems subjects learners to books upon books of theory, and not much else. It isn’t unusual to see a standard 4 pupil with up to 13 text books. The poor 10-year-old walks to school with a hunched back under the immense weight. The scenario is replicated in many other kids of different ages whose minds are subjected to hordes of information that they hardly ever apply. These kids become adults that are book-smart but not street-smart. Their problem solving skills in real life is wanting. What’s the use of education if it cannot help you navigate through life?



  1. Grooms for Employment

We can no longer retain an education which promotes the mentality of white collar jobs. That may have worked about 3 decades ago and shortly thereafter when the system was introduced, when the population was much lower and the few graduates could be absorbed into the formal job market. Currently, we have thousands of graduates joining the job market every year, and if we have majority of them expecting employment, then we’re setting them up for doom. We’ll end up with a frustrated lot, regretting the time and money spent in school. In this regard, 8-4-4 no longer responds to the dynamics of the day.

  1. Mass Production

8-4-4 is an old static system that seeks to equalize other than acknowledge the uniqueness of its learners. Mr. Ernest Wandera, a HR practitioner in Nairobi has experience this first hand. Speaking in an instance where he was required to short-list applicants for the position of marketer for an advertising agency, he says the CVs merely appeared as photo-copies, save for the personal details. ‘Bachelors degree in business and marketing’: he read over and over again, with hardly anything standing out in any of them. Do you mean that all of those students did not have any other interests/competencies/gifts that can be harnessed? You can bet they do, but the system is not structured to acknowledge them. Time is up for these one-size-fits-all programs, and the change is much awaited.

  1. No talent Exploitation

Currently, it does not matter what an outstanding talent you have, if you cannot grasp the Pythagoras Theorem/Mole Concept/Periodic Table/BODMAS and so on; you’re considered stupid. Co-curricular activities are given minimal attention. Some private schools have gone as far as banning these activities so that the students can concentrate on academics. And why wouldn’t they; if by the end of the year all that will matter in their grading will be the written exams? They go ahead to score As, but in the process there are talents in singing/acting/drawing/sports/public speaking and so on that just went under. We need the talents to thrive. We need to notice, nurture and even reward them. Let us have adults who will be self-reliant due to their talent.


  1. Over-emphasis on Exams

Have we missed the irony of testing 8 years of primary education in just 3 days? Or testing the rigorous 4 years of secondary education in just 1 month? It does not really matter what you actually learn, provided you can put down the right thing on paper. Exam stealing and cheating becomes the order of the day, going to an extent of involving teachers and parents. 8-4-4 continues to dwell on scores other than the actual learning, and that isn’t helping. We’ve also had cases of good performers who unfortunately fall sick or get bereaved during the exam period, then end up with a grade that portrays them as poor performers. It is time for our children to actually learn; instead of just cram for exams.


This list is hardly comprehensive, yet does clearly illustrate that 8-4-4 has outlived its importance. CBC is the new kid on the block. We have organized a forum to unravel this new curriculum and deliberate on the role of parents in this system. Save the date; Saturday 3rd November from1-4pm at All Saints Cathedral. Check out the full seminar details.