CBC New Kenya Education System

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  • Date Modified04-04-2021
  • Date Published2021-04-04

CBC stands for Competency Based Curriculum.This is the new education system in Kenya that is currently set to replace the 8-4-4 education system

The system was introduced in 2017. The CBC was researched and developed by KICD (Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development). This new curriculum is here to stay as it had been gradually introduced and is steadily replacing 8-4-4 education cycle. At this point in time, 8 (of the 8-4-4 cycle) consisting of 8 years of primary education is being dismantled into a 6 year term. As such all and one need to get acquainted with this new system.

This article gives a definitive guide on the new Compentency Based Curriculum cycle that learners under its care will transition to reach their careers. To learn more its features click on Compentency Based Curriculum Features. As such it is essential to learn where we are coming from, to where we have reached.

Kenya's Education System Cycle History
The Kenya education system started out with 7-4-2-3 system, a formal education system introduced by the British Colonial rule in 1963. The education cycle comprised of :

  • 7 years in primary school
  • 4 years in lower secondary school
  • 2 years in upper secondary school
  • 3 years(minimum) in university education

Then it was replaced by 8-4-4 system in 1985. Which consisted of:

  • 8 years in primary school
  • 4 years in secondary school
  • 4 years(minimum) in university education

The new education system was introduced in 2017 with a 2-6-3-3-3 system consisting of:

  • 2 years in pre-primary education
  • 6 years in primary education
  • 3 years in junior secondary education
  • 3 years in senior secondary education
  • 3 years(minimum) in university education

CBC Education System
The Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) consist of 2-6-3-3-3 education cycle. Every learner shall transition through a minimum of 17 levels, every level as period of 1 year. The KICD has grouped them into 4 general categories:

  • Early Year Education (Pre-Primary & Lower Primary)
  • Middle School (Upper Primary & Lower Secondary)
  • Senior School (Upper Secondary)
  • Tertiary Education (TVET or University)

What used to be called Subjects are now known as Learning Areas. Topics are known as Strands and Sub-topics called Sub-Strands.

Early Year Education (EYE)
This level bestows mastery of basic skills upon the learners. This group consist of 2 sub-categories:

  • Pre-Primary
  • Lower Primary

To find out more about the Learning Areas(Subjects) of this group, check out Pre-Primary Learning Areas.


This first entry takes a period of 2 years, a learner enters the education system at the minimum age 4 of years old. The first class is PP1 short for Pre-Primary 1 followed by PP2 (Pre-Primary 2). This is what used to be referred to as Nursery. Prior to this entry level, the Day-Care also exists. It takes 1 year but is not a requirement.
Lower Primary
After Pre-Primary, the learner enters the Grade level. This consist of:

  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 3

In order to proceed to Middle School, the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) will have learners sit an exam or rather assessment, this together with a combination of class-based assessment shall determine if a learner is fit to proceed to the next level.


Middle School
A learner at this level is said to be in Middle School, this consist of:

  • Upper Primary
  • Lower Secondary

Upper Primary
Consist of 3

  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 6 

At the end of Grade 6, KNEC will have them sit for an assessment, to determine the readiness for the Lower Secondary Level.

Lower Secondary
When learners has 3 levels, consisting of:

  • Grade 7
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 9

At the end of Grade 9, KNEC will have them sit for an assessment, to determine the readiness for the Senior School.

Senior School
At this stage, learners now start to specialize based on their career choices. Time taken here, will enable them to see where they fit in their career.
Careers are generally categorized into:

  • Arts & Sports Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • STEM

Based on the category the learner has decided, the learner will transition in

  • Grade 10
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12

After this, the learner based on their career choices will either attend a Technical and Vocational Educational and Training (TVET) or University or can engage in entrepreneurial business.

University education
If they choose tertiary education and training, they will undergo a minimum of 3 years. Some careers of cause require longer time frames

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