We have already established that 8-4-4 was consequential. As there was no substantive research done, implementation was pedestrian. The content and structure of Basic Education were not rewritten. One year was added to primary, secondary education was compressed to four years and an extra year was added to the university. In 1985, The Class 7s of that time simply went to class 8 meaning secondary schools did not have a Form 1 class that year. This caused a double university intake in 1989 when the last lot of Form 6 students and the First Form 4’s under 8-4-4 met in the universities.

Another unintended consequence was the death of the TVET pathway that existed under the old system.

As curriculum content and structure was not re-done, the existing curriculum was simply compressed to fit the new structure. The effect was instant overload in the content and number of subjects taught and examined in primary and secondary school.

In August 1985, President Moi commissioned another working party. The working party was first appointed in 1985 and then again in 1988. Their report was titled “Report of the Presidential Working Party on Education and Manpower Training for the Next Decade and Beyond or simply, The Kamunge Report. It recommended the review of the curriculum at primary and secondary level with a view to allowing for more time to cover curriculum content more effectively and a reduction of the number of subjects that were being studied and examined..

The report also recommended that pupils study and be examined in only 3 vocational subjects; agriculture, business education and one other subject selected from either home science, music or art and craft. Implementation of the Kamunge Report and the Kinyanjui report on Labor began in 1990.

Because 8-4-4 was being constructed on the go, another review which included a formative evaluation was done in 1992. In that review, the number of subjects that a student was expected to study and be examined on in KCSE was reduced from 10 to 8.

Another review was done in 1995 by Professor Wainaina, current VC of Kenyatta University. This one made far-reaching recommendations to overhaul 8-4-4 but the report was not implemented as 8-4-4 was a legacy project for President Moi and he was determined to make it work.

By 1998, the noise about the inefficiencies of 8-4-4 could no longer be ignored; it had reached fever pitch. The President did what he did best; he commissioned yet another study. A team was picked and they began to work. Their findings were damning. In order to prevent a report that would doom 8-4-4, the entire team was recalled from the field and the President then created the first and only Commission of Inquiry into the Education System in Kenya. This Commission’s report is known as the Totally Integrated Quality Education and Training (TIQET) or simply the Koech Report.

The Koech Report is one of the most comprehensive education reports there is. It addressed everything, including the role of the Private Sector, cost of education, teacher training etc. Fun fact, it is the Koech Report that recommended the abolition of "maziwa ya Nyayo".

The Koech Commission found that the Primary school curriculum had become increasingly focused on examinations as KCPE had become highly competitive. Consequently, the legitimate authority and role of subject teachers in the assessment of their classes had been killed. Paragraph 15.4.15 states that “the child became a mere statistic and the teacher’s authority was lost”

The Koech Commission recommended the simplification of the curriculum for primary 6 and 7. They recommended the splitting of the curriculum between examinable and non-examinable subjects with the examinable subjects leading to the award of a certificate.

They also recommended the removal of practical subjects, difficult areas of study, and exclusion of subjects that were not of immediate use to learners. The examples of practical subjects listed in 15.4.8 (a) were Home Science, Art and Craft and Music while 15.4.8 (d) lists Music, Home Science, Business Education, Art and Craft as subjects that were not of immediate use to learners or to quote TIQET “least useful”.

At secondary level, the Commission was shocked to learn that in 1985 at the onset of 8-4-4, the curriculum content which was formally covered at “A” Level (Form 5 & 6 of secondary school education) was put in the syllabus of either form 3 or 4 in 8-4-4. It was therefore their recommendation that the secondary school curriculum be revised with a view to removing inappropriate content so as to make subjects manageable.

They also recommended an end to the integration of home science, Kiswahili and English and recommended instead that the three be offered separately from form 3 as follows;

i. Clothing & Textiles

ii. Food & Nutrition

iii. Home Management

iv. Lugha ya Kiswahili

v. Fasihi kwa Kiswahili

vi. English Language

vii. Literature in English

The commission also recommended two syllabi for math; comprehensive math and basic math.

The Commission tabled their report in 1999.

Meanwhile, as these things were going on, Kenya had become a multi-party state and gone through two elections (1992 and 1998). President Moi was constitutionally barred from running in the 2002 elections and the opposition was determined to ensure his chosen successor did not become President. They began to put together their blueprint for a new Kenya. They called this document "Democracy and Empowerment: Manifesto for the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC)".

Because Moi ran one of the most effective intelligence gathering systems, he caught wind of what they intended to do with education. He, therefore, set out to safeguard what he and his team considered his legacy.

In 2001, he secured funding from the World Bank to review the curriculum. This was however short-lived as the funding was pulled due to corruption issues. He however managed to secure funding from DFID and the review was completed. Teachers were retooled, books were written and the curriculum revised. The review was based on chapter 15 of the Koech Report(the only chapter of this report that was partially implemented). Roll out of the reviewed curriculum began very quietly in 2002. He had secured his legacy.

Meanwhile, Mwai Kibaki won the election in December 2002. He appointed his cabinet and all of them received their marching orders to begin implementing the NARC manifesto. When the new team gathered technocrats to begin implementation of the NARC Manifesto, they were informed that the curriculum had been reviewed and implementation had begun. They had been bested by a master and so they retreated to re-strategize.

The first lot of students under the reviewed curriculum sat for their KCSE in 2006. By this point, we had mangled 8-4-4 to the point that it was unrecognizable..sort of like our independence constitution.

NARC had 5 main manifesto promises and two directly touched on education. They were:

1. To ensure that Kenyan children and youth will get affordable, quality and relevant education that would make them competitive players in the world economy.

2. And to ensure that every Kenyan is engaged in meaningful work and can afford a decent life

A great number of Kenyans still wanted the education system overhauled. It was for this reason that President Kibaki held the National Conference on Education and Training in 2003. That conference led to the development of Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2005 titled "A Policy Framework for Education, Training and Research".

In 2008, Vision 2030 was written. In 2009, the first summative evaluation of the reviewed curriculum (Moi's last laugh) was done and in 2010, a new constitution was promulgated. In 2011, the Task Force on the Re-alignment of the Education Sector to the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and Vision 2030" was formed. Thus CBC, as conceived by NARC was born.

Mwai Kibaki had delivered his promise and provided the blueprint to overhaul the system of education in Kenya.

PS: While there was no structure or rollout plan for 8-4-4, CBC was conceptualized in 2003, piloted in 2016, a framework developed in 2017, and full rollout was in 2018.

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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