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Key findings
  • Education ranks sixth among important problems that Kenyans want the government to address.
  • Six in 10 citizens (60%) think it is likely that they could get someone to take action if they reported teacher misbehaviour such as absenteeism or mistreatment of students.
  • But only 28% are confident that they could obtain information about school budgets and how the funds have been used.
  • About two-thirds (65%) of Kenyans say the government is addressing educational needs “fairly well” or “very well.” But that’s 10 percentage points lower than in 2019.
  • Seven in 10 citizens (69%) say education services have improved “somewhat” or “a lot” over the past five years.
  • More than half (52%) of respondents believe that the competency-based curriculum will improve education in Kenya, but 39% say it will help just “a little bit” or “not at all.”

Kenya introduced a competency-based curriculum (CBC) in 2017. The new curriculum, known as the 2-6-3-3 system, replaced the teacher-centred, exam-oriented 8-4-4 education system, which focused on teachers delivering lessons with limited student-teacher interaction. In contrast, the CBC is learner-centred and skills-oriented, which is expected to foster creativity and innovation; teachers are guides, and student-teacher interaction is paramount. The new curriculum focuses on students’ aptitudes, abilities, and interests, which had been virtually ignored by the old education system (Akala, 2021).

But Kenyans have raised a number of concerns regarding the shift to the new curriculum, citing challenges such as a lack of teaching materials, the high cost of learning materials that parents have to bear, and the time required in terms of parental support in carrying out learning activities (Amunga, Were, & Ashioya, 2020; Amutabi, 2019; Nyaboke, Kereri, & Nyabwari, 2021).

Some have complained that implementation of the CBC was haphazard, with delays in the disbursement of funding, and have expressed doubts as to whether the new system will improve education outcomes (Akala, 2021; Muchira, Morris, Wawire, & Oh, 2023).

How do ordinary Kenyans see their new curriculum, and their education system more broadly?

The most recent Afrobarometer survey in Kenya shows that views on the CBC remain divided, though a slim majority think it will make education in Kenya better.

Overall, solid majorities give their government good marks on handling the country’s educational needs and say the school system has improved over the past five years. Most citizens who had contact with public schools during the preceding year say they were treated with respect and found it easy to get the services they needed.

Even so, education still ranks as one of the most important problems that citizens want their government to address, and few Kenyans are confident that they could obtain information on school budgets and expenditures.

Laura Barasa

Laura Nelima Barasa is a lecturer at the University of Nairobi.