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The price to pay in implementing the CBC curriculum [Pulse Contributor's Opinion]

For a lot of parents, CBC is a costly affair

Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) flags 2 areas of CBC misinterpreted by teachers making it expensive for parents

The Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) 2-6-3-3 was introduced in Kenya in 2017 to replace the 8-4-4 curriculum.

Prior to the 8-4-4 curriculum, Kenya had the the 7-4-2-3 curriculum which was a colonial remnant.

These various curricula have been introduced as a response to workforce needs within the country. As a result, CBC was introduced in order to churn out citizens with specialized skills.

Under CBC, students will go through two years of pre primary, six years of primary school split as three years of lower primary (Grade 1-3) and three years of upper primary (Grade 4-6), six years of high school split as three years in lower secondary (Grade7- 9) and three years of upper secondary (Grade 10-12) and three years of higher education.


It sounds like it’s a lot, it is. Students will spend an extra year in school.

Cost of CBC for Parents

For a lot of parents, CBC is a costly affair with each grade requiring acquisition of new textbooks that the kids will write in, therefore, they can’t be re-used. They also can’t be donated to libraries.

The students also now carry a lot of supplies to school, from manila paper to office glue and even tissue paper.


In addition, the current implementation of the curriculum is book (publisher) heavy. A lot of the work that the students have to do is practical and to be done at home rather in school.

Recently, I had to buy Grade Two books and the high cost of the books shook me. They were 19 text books for the 9 units. Three textbooks were not available. They are yet to be published despite having been approved by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

Subjects re-introduced

It is a throwback to the 7-4-2-3 curriculum whereby students would proceed for O’Levels (Form 5 and Form 6) for specialization.


Under CBC, students begin specialization at Grade 7 with the option to select subjects such as Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Home Science and Computer Science.

Music, Art, Agriculture, Home Science from 8-4-4 have also been reintroduced. I recall studying Art and Music briefly in Class 3 only for the classes to be discontinued with no communication.

These classes have been reintroduced as from Grade 1 with Home Science being taught as Hygiene & Nutrition. Agriculture, Music and Art will be taught from Grade 4.

How Can Schools Respond?

  • Build Libraries 

The secondary school I attended, issued all students with textbooks at the beginning of the year. You were responsible for the books and would pay for books you lost or spoilt beyond repair. This instilled the spirit of taking care of property under our use.

In addition, our parents neither had to bear the cost of purchasing books nor worry about us accessing quality learning materials. The school took care of this.

All schools should be mandated to have libraries. This improves the quality of learning and gives teachers more resources to use in the teaching-learning process.

  • Create A Parents Fund 

Due to economies of scale, schools are in a better position to purchase books and other school supplies on behalf of the parents at fair prices.


In addition, since the school has already decided upon the textbooks to use, it’s much easier for them to get in touch with the publishers and distributors.

Parents can then contribute a certain amount at the start of the year to cover the cost of these school supplies.

  • Petitioning publishers to separate activity books from notes

One way to curb cost would be to have the schools create their own activities worksheets that are then distributed to the students. Or have the publishers create these worksheets and sell them separately from the textbooks. This way, the books can be re-used for a number of years.

The cost of living will only keep on going up. It is only fair that we make education accessible and affordable for every student.


The foregoing is an Opinion Article submitted to Pulse Live Kenya for publication as part of the Pulse Contributors Initiative.

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

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Muthoni Njoki is a Kenyan Writer, Marketing & Communications Consultant and civil servant, with over 8 years in private and public service. The world is her oyster so she lives life to the fullest. Her mantra is, "Every moment on earth is a story to be told".


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