How Relevant is the 8-4-4 System?
In the current times, many young people in Kenya get an opportunity to study in institutions of higher learning as compared to the past years. The current education system in Kenya is 8-4-4 which entails spending eight years in primary school, four in secondary school and four more in university. However, most university graduates end up spending many years looking for a job, frantically knocking from door to door without much help. Others end up working in fields that are completely different from what they studied while those that get jobs in their area of expertise end up getting frustrated with their jobs. Very few people actually get jobs in their areas of study and are content working there.
So how exactly is the current Kenyan system of education relevant? Why should anyone struggle to study for all those years only to end up ‘tarmacking’ for a job? Better yet, why should someone study for something they will never practice? These questions are quite hard to answer and perhaps the answer would be a change in the education system as well as the school curriculum.
The current curriculum entails learning languages, sciences, humanities as well as some technical subjects. However, not much of hands on skills are taught in schools and students grow up knowing that the only way to earn a living would be through a white collar job. Professions such as medicine, architecture, law among other old professions have been overrated and most students yearn to pursue these ‘prestigious’ careers. The current mindset of most Kenyans, and particularly the older generation is that one can only lead a successful life if they are a doctor, a lawyer or such other well known professionals.
Take a case example of a young student who has grown being told such ideologies. The student works hard all their life and once done with high school, gets admitted into one of the universities to pursue a prestigious course. Two years down the line, they realize that they just aren’t cut out for it and either drop out or change their career paths. The worst case scenario would be continuing with the same course and eventually end up financially stable but emotionally unsatisfied.
Also Read: The Cynicism of Overpriced Education
It is the high time that Kenyans accepted the changing times. One can earn money from just about anything nowadays and how good would it be to get paid to do something that you love. It could be drawing, singing, writing, you name it. Or perhaps you just have a knack for all things business and entrepreneurship could be just the thing for you.
The new proposed curriculum was just recently endorsed and its implementation tentatively scheduled for January 2018. The first of its kind since 1985 will see children go through early, middle and senior schools. What really gets me excited about the curriculum is that once done with middle school, students will get an opportunity to choose whether to attend talent school, general education on technical and vocational education or basic education and training before finally attending universities and other institutions of higher learning.
This could be the breakthrough we’ve all been waiting for. For years, the dilemma of high rates of unemployment has been at a stalemate and perhaps the answer has just been found. As students are taught on how to tap into their talents and learn other hands-on skills, most will probably end up being self employed and thus reduce the number of qualified yet unemployed people.