Comparing 8-4-4 and CBC Education Systems: Embracing Competencies and Diversity

As the education landscape evolves, the traditional 8-4-4 system and the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) stand as two distinct approaches. Each has its own philosophy, objectives, and assessment methods. In this article, we will delve into the comparisons between 8-4-4 and CBC, focusing on assessments from Grade 3 to 12.

1. Philosophical Differences


  • Centered on results and academics.
  • Summative examination-oriented (KCPE and KCSE).
  • Focuses on assessment of learning of knowledge description.


  • Focuses on skills and competencies.
  • Assessment for learning to acquire skills.
  • Teachers’ role is to facilitate learning.

2. Content vs. Competencies


  • Content-focused curriculum.


  • Competencies-focused curriculum.

3. Flexibility in Curriculum


  • Rigid and prescriptive.
  • Limited flexibility.


  • Flexible with opportunities for specialization.

4. Assessment Approach


  • Primarily summative assessment (KCPE and KCSE).
  • High-stakes examination leading to malpractice.


  • Balances formative and summative assessment.
  • Appreciates uniqueness and talents; no one is considered a failure.

5. Focus on Education


  • Focuses on schooling.


  • Emphasizes education.
  • Intends to tap talents for holistic development.
  • Values like respect, honesty, integrity, and responsibility are emphasized.

CBC Assessments:

1. Classroom Assessment (C.A)

  • Administered by teachers.
  • Grade 4 to 6 (30% of final grade).

2. School Based Assessment (S.B.A)

  • Administered and scored by teachers, uploaded to KNEC.
  • Grade 4 to 6 (30% of final grade).

3. Summative Assessment (S.A)

  • Administered and scored by KNEC.
  • End of Grade 6 (40% of final grade).

Other CBC Assessments:

  • KEYA (Kenya Early Year Assessment) – Grade 3
  • KPSEA (Kenya Primary School Education Assessment) – Grade 6
  • KMYA (Kenya Middle Year Assessment) – Grade 9
  • KCBE (Kenya Certificate of Basic Education) – Grade 12


  • Learners will undergo School Based Assessments (SBA) in Grade 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11.

The CBC emerges as a more dynamic and inclusive system, aiming to nurture a diverse range of talents and competencies while shifting the focus from mere academics to holistic education. As the CBC continues to unfold, its impact on shaping well-rounded individuals for the challenges of the future becomes increasingly evident.


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