Secondary schools will retain their status as national, extra-county, county and subcounty under the new curriculum.

However, the criterion on how the Education ministry will place the CBC learners to secondary school still remains hazy.

However, the confirmation that schools will retain their status has raised concern over the possibility of a learner’s merit in primary school determining which secondary school they will join.

Kenya Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo says this will raise concern over the possible return of cutthroat competition, to secure slots in top national schools under the new curriculum.

The Principal Secretary of the new State Department for Implementation of Curriculum Reforms within the Education ministry, Fatuma Chege however downplayed this possibility noting that the categorisation of schools is not related to the learners’ outcome.

She spoke on Tuesday during an engagement on the progress of the new curriculum with the Kenya Editor’s Guild.

Chege said the focus is to ensure that children will transit to schools well equipped to ensure they meet their educational requirements in junior secondary school.

“The label of national schools, extra-county, county, subcounty will not define the quality of education, it is what happens inside a school and inside a class space.

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“That label will not commit any miracle, it is what happens in the classroom, what happens in the school environment.

“We must put our focus in what goes on inside a classroom and inside the school. That is what will deliver the child in whatever system in the world,” the PS said.

Kenya National Examination Council chief executive David Njegere backed up the argument noting that the purpose of the formative assessment is not to rank the children

“It’s not to say which child is better than the other one, it is simply to find out where is every child and what intervention do we need to put in place to make sure children can catch up,” Njegere said.

The pioneer class of the new curriculum will be transiting to junior secondary school— otherwise referred to simply as JSS— in 2023. Currently, they are in Grade 5 and will be in Grade 6 and the final stage of their primary school next year.

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Under the new curriculum, the transition from Grade 6 to secondary school will be based on a hybrid model involving a combination of CATs (Classroom Assessment Techniques) and KNEC tests. Learners will be required to take CATs at the end of Grades 4, 5 and 6 that will be part of their aggregate score at the end of primary school.

The new system has been touted as the key that will reduce immense pressure on the need to pass examinations and make it to schools revered for academic excellence. CBC learners will sit a final exam at the end of primary school, like KCPE, but it won’t be the sole determinant of secondary school.

Each CAT will carry 20 per cent of the final mark. This means the three CATs will cumulatively account for 60 per cent of the final score. The remaining 40 per cent will be from the Kenya National Examination Council exam to be administered at the end of Grade 6. The cumulative score the learner will get will determine the secondary school they will join. However, it is unclear how pathways will be adopted in the various schools.

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In junior secondary school, the learners will be introduced to all pathways, Njegere said. This is to help them build interest in their strong areas and what they will seek to specialise in when they join senior secondary school.

“We need that broad-based curriculum in junior secondary school to allow the learners to interact with different aspects of the curriculum. It is so that they interact with STEM, humanities and the technical aspects.

“So that by the time they are making the decision at the end of Grade 9 on which way they want to follow in senior secondary, it’s not an arbitrary decision, it is based on their interaction with those different areas,” he said.

The logic, Njegere said, is derived from a study by the world bank to impact higher-order thinking skills.

“You cannot derive higher-order thinking skills if you have a very broad curriculum at the senior secondary school… that is why we are saying at senior secondary let’s narrow it down to the area where the child is good,” he said.

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