Mar 22, 2023

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Region seeks common ground, skills for youth, in new education systems

Governments in the East African region see adjustments in their respective education systems as a long-term solution to unemployment. But although countries in the region all agree to adapt their teaching, there is little commonality or harmony between them, say some experts.

In Kenya, the competency-based curriculum (CBC ) may have to pass the resistance phase first. Officials say it exposes children from elementary school to their career interests. This, authorities add, can build a group of learners who can choose career paths without wasting time learning everything. But since the system was introduced in 2017, it has faced complaints about the high cost of learning materials, with parents mostly being forced to do homework with their children.

Kenya’s CBC is a 2-6-3-3-3 system, which means that students study two years of pre-school, six years of primary education, three years of lower secondary education, three years of upper secondary education and three years of tertiary education graduate Kenya has used the 8-4-4 system since 1985, which took learners 16 years to complete a cycle. It has been criticized for only equipping students for exams instead of preparing them for the realities of the world.

East African Community member countries have different education systems in which learners between the ages of 16 and years (South Sudan and Rwanda) and 20 years (Burundi) from preschool to university.

Focus on reform

With that divergence, experts say reforms must focus on creating similar learning environments.

Samuel Otieno, director of the Regional Education Learning Initiative, an education policy NGO in East Africa, says, the EAC countries have to deal with problems of harmony, especially as the labor market can expand through integration.

“Countries like Tanzania a and Uganda are bringing 21st century skills into their curricula as a sideline to maintain their system,” he said.

A quest for a harmonized curriculum, he said, will meet economic needs of the region and change the quality of education. He argued that overhauling an education system is important, but the region needs to focus on the same things to address issues like properly preparing learners, localizing content and training enough teachers, alongside increasing teacher resource allocation .

Rwanda has made great strides in its education system over the past 12 years, moving from a knowledge-based to a competency-based curriculum.

In Kenya, authorities say the CBC is a response to policy changes within the EAC.

“The East Africa Community Protocol 2012 accelerated the harmonization of curricula in East Africa and the rollout of the CBC in the region,” said Prof. Charles Ong’ondo, executive director of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Develop ment.

The protocol called for countries to adopt a competency-based curriculum to promote regio-quality education and align it with global market capabilities.

The EAC’s harmonized curriculum structures and frameworks say that a unified curriculum will promote regional integration by facilitating learner mobility between states.

“This will only be achieved if the education systems in the respective countries domesticate the regional education goals, primary education goals and key competences,” says the framework.

Kenya is in sixth grade of the new curriculum and plans to enroll the first cohort of upper secondary students in January 2023, despite criticism that the Leh rplan is unnecessary and unexplored.


According to the Kenyan CBC Taskforce report, learners at secondary school will take three paths: 60 percent tribal (science, technology, engineering, and math), 25 percent social sciences, and 15 percent sports, science, and arts. Each upper secondary school should offer at least two pathways.

It is predicted that 1.25 million learners will transfer to upper secondary school in 2026, requiring further expansion of the schools.

Currently the government is building at least 10,000 classrooms worth Ksh 8 billion ($68.6 million) in preparation for the introduction of upper secondary education next year.< /p>< h3 class="m-6663433602024648843teasubhead">Ghost of unemployment

Unemployment remains a challenge in Kenya, with many young people unable to find work after graduation. More than 800,000 students graduate from various colleges and universities each year, but a small percentage secure jobs.

With the new curriculum, the government says students in the will be able to choose their preferred career paths at upper secondary level and continue down the path to university and college levels, giving them better chances in the global labor market Prof Fatuma Chege said there will be a review of policies for reforms Secondary placement to provide clear criteria, including the use of assessment, for the placement of learners in secondary schools.

“The Department has mapped and improved all secondary schools gradually the infrastructure and will provide the necessary conditions for the introduction of the CBC in schools,” she said.

The taskforce report has since recommended that the Ministry of Education should identify schools that can accommodate the three pathways and gradually increase their infrastructure capacity to improve.

In Tanzania, the debate on knowledge and skills-based education was held in Parliament during a discussion on the Ministry of Education’s proposed budget for 2022/2023.

Lawmakers pushed the government on planned education sector reforms, including a curriculum review to emphasize technical and life subjects and nurture talent and professional skills from elementary school.

Education Minister Prof Adolf Mkenda presented a budget estimate of almost 1.5 trillion Tsh (649.3 M million US dollars) for the financial year 2022/2023, which will also include educational policy optimizations and proposed measures ndments to the National Education Act of 1978.

According to Prof. Mkenda, the Reforms that emphasize vocational and technical education, adding that they extend to policies, curricula, the quality of teachers, trainers and faculty, and educational institutions.

Public concern about competence of Tanzanian graduates on the labor market is growing.

MPs underscored the current reality where many students who graduate from primary, O-level and A-level education are unemployed.

In his presentation, Prof. Mkenda said that the reforms would prevent arbitrary imposition of unexplored heter and uncoordinated changes in education.