Teachers oppose planned 2-6-6-3 system

A participant at an education conference at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi raises his hand to approve the current 8-4-4 system on March 28, 2012.

What you need to know:

  • Unions say new structure, which needs Sh340bn per year to implement, would be too costly

Teachers on Wednesday unanimously opposed a government team’s proposal to scrap the 8-4-4 education system.

They argued that the proposed 2-6-6-3 system, which needs Sh340 billion per year to implement, would be too costly and impractical.

The two rival teachers’ unions, alongside associations of primary and secondary school heads, were united at the three-day national conference on education in rejecting the new system.

Led by Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) chairman Wilson Sossion, they said the current 8-4-4 system needed to be reinforced and not replaced with the proposed 2-6-6-3 arrangement.

“There is no way it (new system) can be implemented in the country,” Mr Sossion said.

He said the new system had adopted some irrelevant policies from European countries.

Mr Sossion singled out altering of the school calendar to start in September, saying: “Kenya does not need a summer holiday, we are not Europeans.”

He was alluding to the proposed school calendar that has created a long break stretching from August into September, where pupils spend five weeks out of school.

However, he called for debate on other proposals contained in the report by a task force led by Prof Douglas Odhiambo, which could be included in the 8-4-4 system.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association chairman Cleophas Tirop buttressed the argument, saying the billions required to shift to the new system could be used in addressing the problems affecting the 8-4-4 arrangement.

Changing structure

“It is premature to even talk about changing the current structure of education,” Mr Tirop told delegates gathered at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi.

“Let us fix the gaps in the 8-4-4 first in terms of quality by employing more teachers and equipping our schools using a fraction of the money earmarked for the new system,” he added.

According to the proposed system, learners will spend two years at pre-primary school, six years at primary school (three in lower classes and another three in upper classes) before spending six years at secondary school (three in lower classes and the rest in upper classes).

But the teachers said that it would be difficult to move from the current 8-4-4 system to the new one, which is expected to come into force in September 2013.

They said teachers in public schools would have to teach under the two systems concurrently in the first few years since the 2-6-6-3 structure was to be initiated in Standard Five.

Both Mr Sossion and Mr Tirop pointed out that it would be “a nightmare” for secondary schools in terms of facilities required to create additional two classes.

The pioneer group under the new system would sit the first examination in 2014. It will be called the Kenya Primary Education Certificate.

They will join junior secondary school in 2015, proceed to senior secondary school in 2018 and ultimately to university in 2021.

“If creating an additional stream in the current secondary schools is a problem, how do you create an additional two classes at a go through out the country,” said Mr Sossion.