NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 18 – The Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) now says that the four sets of national tests in the proposed new system of education are not viable.
Chief Executive Officer Paul Wasanga told Capital News that the system would not benefit students since more focus would be placed on passing examinations.
He said the capacity of teachers should instead be improved to enable them carry out their duties in a more professional manner.
“I do not think the proposals that are being given about examinations are workable. The reason is we are trying to escape from what is called an exam oriented system but this new system is proposing more examinations which is not good,” he pointed out.
“We need to re-look the system again so that we can come up with one which empowers the teacher capacity to assess and monitor the progress of the student.”
Wasanga said that enhancing teachers’ capacity will enable them hone students skills which may help them in their future lives.
“Once you have a standardised set of examinations, then what is the role of the teacher? Their powers will be greatly reduced. In Finland, the teacher’s power to assess is very strong. They are given a lot of latitude. But the difference with our country is that teachers there are the best paid so that they like the job and they do a lot of in-service,” he said. “With all these benefits, if you cannot survive as a teacher, then you will do very poorly in that profession.”
He further observed that the infrastructure in schools should be improved before the new system of education is effected.
“Once you start thinking about combining teacher assessment with the national assessment, then the teachers are going to do just the same thing. They are going to continue drilling the children because they know that whatever they give them is going to contribute towards the final grade,” he said.
A report on the new education system, shows it would cost Sh340 billion should it be implemented.
The study done by a 35-member task-force also suggested that the age at which children should begin basic education should be four years and that it should be made mandatory for them to attend school until they reach 18 years.
In a departure from the current 8-4-4 system, it had been suggested that a 2-6-3-3-3 system should be adopted.
Pupils will sit national exams at the end of two years in pre-primary, at primary three, primary six, three years in junior secondary and three years in senior secondary.
According to the report, implementation of the new system should commence this year with a thorough review of the education curriculum proposed to end in December.
It had been foreseen that the structure would ensure students get the required skills to earn a living once they finish school.
The team to review the 8-4-4 education system was launched last year and was expected to help stem some of the recurrent problems facing the education sector.
They include poor quality, where institutions have been accused of teaching what is not needed, lack of access to education by the poor, cultural barriers to equal education opportunities and conflicts between the public and the private sector.
Under the proposed system, students who miss national examinations for whatever reasons will sit special tests three months after the normal exams.
Selection for Form One places will also be done at county level, while ranking of schools as national, provincial and district level will be abolished such that all schools will be either public or private.