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From 7-4-2-3 system during Kenya’s independence days to 8-4-4 curriculum in 1985 and now the new 2-6-3-3-3 curriculum called Competency Based Curriculum (CBC); the story of national assessments remains the same with pangs of anxiety, emotions and hope for learners, teachers, parents and even players in the education space such
as EducAfrica Foundation.

On Friday, November 25 2022, the first batch of Grade 6 learners undertook rehearsals for the new Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA) exams, which replace the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) under the new CBC. The exercise has seen approximately 1.3 million learners preparing for the main exams set to be held from November 28th to 30th.

The students will then graduate and proceed to Grade 7 in January 2023, where they will join Junior Secondary schools under the CBC program. However, this will only happen if the recently commissioned Presidential Working Committee on Education Reforms in Kenya choose to recommend the status quo of the CBC system.

KCPE exams are also being held on the same dates as KPSEA exams, allowing class 8 learners to complete their assessments using the 8-4-4 system. This will be the second last batch of learners in the 8-4-4 system; the final batch shall sit for their exams in November 2023; effectively closing the lid on the 38-year-old brainchild of Kenya’s
former President (the Late) Daniel Arap Moi who established the 8-4-4 system of education. This system replaced the 7-4-2-3 system and it is made up of 8 years of primary education (classes 1–8), 4 years of secondary education (form1-4), and 4 years of university education. The new CBC program applies to Grade 6 (Class 6) students. This means there will be two batches of KCPE candidates before a full transition to the new curriculum.

The Structure of KPSEA

The subjects to be tested are Mathematics, English, Kiswahili, Integrated Science (I.S) which entails Home Science, Agriculture, Science and Tech, and PHE. There will also be Creative And Social Sciences (C.A.S.S) which includes Art and Craft, Music, Social Studies, and Religious Education (Christian/Hindu/Islam).

In the new curriculum, English Composition and Kiswahili Composition (Insha) will not be tested. The time duration allocated for the subjects is Mathematics (1hr 20mins) English and Kiswahili (1hr), I.S and C.A.S.S(1hr 40mins). The assessment has taken into consideration learners with special needs and they will be given extra time. After completion of the assessments, the papers shall then be delivered to the specific sub-county education offices and collected by Centre Managers in the company of security personnel (Police).

The New Norm

While in the past, examination papers have been marked by teachers, this time round, the marking process will be unique from the traditional marking systems. The Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC), the government body mandated by an act of parliament to oversee all assessments in Kenya revealed that KPSEA will be marked using new technology and teachers will not be involved in the exercise.

KNEC has acquired Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) Machines which will electronically score the Grade 6 Assessment. The machine marks the work of candidates by capturing their answer sheets using specialized scanning. The machines are said to mark scripts in batches of 100 and 200 sheets, making the process take a shorter time compared to the manual traditional process where teachers were physically involved.

Grading System
The final KPSEA score will be totaled from the School Based Assessments (S.B.A) and the Summative National Assessments (S.N.A). About 60% of the learners’ scores will come from the S.B.A which constitutes assessments that they have been doing annually in the Upper Primary classes, Grades 4, 5 and 6. These are assessments that
are usually executed by classroom teachers, guided by KNEC. They are done in the form of Projects, Practicals, Portfolios and Oral Assessments. The remaining 40% of the learners’ scores will be derived from the S.N.A otherwise known as the main KPSEA examination, which will be in the form of multiple-choice questions.

A final CBC certificate will be issued upon completion of Grade 12, as compared to the traditional issuance upon completing KCPE exams. Results slips will be issued by KNEC after the completion of marking, which will be announced later by the Cabinet Secretary for Education; Hon. Ezekiel Machogu.


Article by Evans Peter Oriwo
Education Coordinator
EducAfrica Foundation

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