8:4:4 Curriculum, education that liberates or domesticates?

8:4:4 Curriculum, education that liberates or domesticates?

Kenya’s education system is at the crossroads. Barely a year ago, the government launched the competency-based curriculum to replace the now 35-year-old knowledge-based system commonly known as 8:4:4. This system was first introduced in 1984. 

8:4:4 basically focuses on the final product (end results), while paying little attention to the process. It is examination or grade-oriented system, where the end justifies the means. It places a high premium on passing exams at the expense of an individual’s core-competencies. 

Having been in place for 35 years, it is time to interrogate the pros and cons of the 8:4:4 curriculum. Look at the graduates of the system! Most are zombies. If you didn’t get the university entry grades, you were condemned as a failure. 

As the country prepares to transit from a knowledge-based to a competency-based system, it is paramount to interrogate both systems and take stock of each. 

To help dissect the purpose of education we can look at the contributions of Paulo Reglus Neves Freire, a Brazilian educator and philosopher, who asserted that education can either domesticate or liberate.

The 8:4:4 system has domesticated its graduates. Domesticated graduates do not use education to break from the yoke of slavery. They see education as an avenue to white collar jobs. It produces ‘A’ graduates who end up being employed by ‘C’ graduates. 

Recently newspapers were awash with news of an ‘A’ graduate working in a garage. I do not know what exactly is wrong with that. It is simply our mindsets that lie to us that an ‘A’ graduate should be a chief executive in a posh office. How deceitful! 

Robert Kiyosaki, in his book, Why ‘A’ students work for ‘C’ students and ‘B’ students work for the government, lists 50 people who did not finish school but made it to the top. Six of these ended up becoming presidents of the United States of America.

Two others,  TD Jakes and Joel Osteen, are the world’s leading televangelists. Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, Steve Jobs, founder of Apple and many more. 

If these great men ever finished school, they would have expected to find white collar jobs. 

Koyasaki is not encouraging students to drop out of school or trying to imply that school is not important. No, far from it. Education is very important. The question is: What kind of education should one yearn for? One that domesticates or one that liberates? The former is the 8:4:4 while the latter is CBC. 

Allan Bukusi, author of Prospering in Employment, asserts that education is for enterprise not employment. If we allow our ‘A’ graduates to work in the Jua Kali sector, we will be amazed by the level of innovation they will inject in. But if we continue to brainwash them into believing that they can only work in offices, we will lose in the long run. 

Liberative education, like the new curriculum, equips one with skills to make him/her self-reliant. A self-reliant graduate hardly begs for employment. Rather, he creates his own employment.

The CBC curriculum aims at creating future entrepreneurs and not simply jobseekers. Let us use education for enterprise and not employment. 

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