The current 8-4-4 system, comprises of 8 years of primary school, 4 years of secondary school and at least 4 years of higher education. The 8-4-4 structure generally comprises the following:
i). Early Childhood Education, ECDE; which covers early childhood care for 0-3 year-old children and pre-primary for 4-5 year-old children;
ii). Primary education; which caters for 6-13 year-old pupils, leading to the award of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE);
iii). Secondary education; which caters for 14-17 year-old students, leading to the award of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE);
iv). Technical and Vocational Education and Training, TVET; which includes trade test courses in youth polytechnics; artisan, craft and diploma courses in technical training institutes and institutes of technology; as well as craft and diploma courses in national polytechnics, leading to trade tests, certificates and diplomas in various disciplines.
The TVET catchment population also includes youth who, for some reasons, do not enrol in the regular education system either at primary or secondary school levels.
v. University education; which takes a minimum of 4 years depending on the degree pursued, leads to a bachelor’s degree. This level of education also includes post-graduate programmes leading to post-graduate diplomas, masters and doctorate degrees.
In addition, the education system offers alternative provision of basic education and training among learners who are not in the formal education system.
WHY THE NEW EDUCATION SYSTEM.
The government has thus introduced a new Competency Based Curriculum, CBC, to replace the 8-4-4 system. The new education system is geared towards lessening the rigidity in the transition from one level to the other, expands curriculum choice, and contain pre-primary education. Such a system will allow for specialization at the end of the junior secondary school, easen re-entry of learners that had dropped out of the education system, and reduce wastage by introducing automatic progression from primary to secondary phase. The system should also provide for early identification and nurturing of talents in individual learners, be flexible, and align the Kenyan structure with international best practices.
Under the new structure, basic education is organized into three levels: Early Years Education, Middle School, and Senior School. Early Years Education will include 2 years pre-primary education for children aged 4 to 5 years, and primary education for 6 years (3 of which will be in Early Years Education, while the other 3 will be upper primary and part of Middle School Education).
This level of Middle School Education therefore will comprise three years of upper Primary and three years of lower secondary education. Senior School comprises three years of education targeted at learners in the age bracket of 15 to 17 years and lays the foundation for further education and training at the tertiary level and the world of work.