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How journalism can objectively educate CBC out of 8-4-4 hit and misses

As curtain falls on the 8-4-4 system of education, journalists have their job cut out in analysing its hit and misses. 

After being in existence for 38 years since its unveiling in 1985, 8-4-4 has occupied a place in the country’s social and economic growth after producing professionals who are playing their part in fostering the country’s development.

The system has now been replaced by the Competence Based Curriculum, which experts say is ideal in developing the learner’s personal talents from an early age and will assist the learner in entering a specific career fully in line with his or her personal capabilities.

By media digging deep into the performance of 8-4-4 system, it will be arming itself with an independent view on how the system fared. This will provide CBC implementers and education stakeholders an objective preview of where the country is coming from, and where we ought to be going under the new system. 

Looking at the existing loopholes and contrasting them with challenges of new system implementation can also help education planners understand what needs to be done. 

It is worth noting when 8-4-4 started, the focus was to instill in the new generation of learners “technical skills” that would add value in their lives, over and above the previous 7-4-2-3, which was geared mainly towards white collar jobs. 

Since it’s inauguration by the second President of the Republic, Daniel Toroitich arap Moi or “Nyayo” as he was popularly known, 8-4-4 was intended to equip the learner with better survival skills. This included nurturing creative skills that could lead to self-employment. Such was the government’s enthusiasm, that it led to the “jengeni karakana (build workshops) campaign” to the extent of patriotic songs being played often over the Voice of Kenya (now KBC). But, as time went by, this enthusiasm died off.  

As we close the chapter on 8-4-4, it’s important that media investigates its milestones with a view to benchmarking it against the objectives of CBC. How has its output affected the nation and what are the lessons? As we embrace the new CBC system, which areas need improvement? 

Even if the 8-4-4 system is gone, one of its overriding objectives such as to drive the human capital labour market from “theory” to “practical skills” seems to be living on through CBC. Definitely 8-4-4 had midwifery role, and journalists need to compare the two systems. 

That strategies for a good education, that is geared towards socio-economic transformation should be drawn along a community’s foreseeable future challenges, the designing of CBC has a focus on tooling, re-tooling, as well as equipping learners with skills to live and co-exist with that future. Question is, where did the 8-4-4 miss it? More of this can be discovered by media looking deeply into the planned vision and objectives of this learning system.

For education, it’s not just the end that justifies the means. Education is like a factory where a stage-by-stage process should be followed to eventually end up with a good quality product.

Upon taking over leadership from his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta, President William Ruto, in fulfilling his campaign promise to relook into CBC, picked Prof Raphael Munavu with his Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms team, which upon collecting public views on the appropriateness of CBC, presented some recommendations for its improvement based on logistical, teacher training, technical resources, infrastructure and funding. 

As we blossom a system of education seeking to enhance a learner’s all-round capabilities in life, addressing the challenges that come on the way offers a great opportunity for CBC’s improvement.

As the chapter closes on yet another landmark education system in Kenya, a well-informed, objective and critical media is needed to keep the people updated, and in helping stakeholders detect where the road would be bumpy. 

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