Competency based curriculum in Kenya

The competency based curriculum commonly known as CBC, is an education system that seeks to nurture a learner’s potential, gifts and talents.

Due to the weaknesses of the 8-4-4 system, reforms were undertaken to develop a curriculum that puts more emphasis on impacting practical skills rather than acquisition of content.

The goal of Competency based learning is to have an education system that is hands on. A system that encourages creativity and problem solving so that youths are able to take advantage of opportunities available to them.

The ultimate objective of the curriculum is to nurture learners who love learning and are keen and focused and able to apply what is learnt in order to make constructive contribution with other peers and the world through enhancing digital literacy and mastery.

Vision of CBC

To enable every Kenyan to become an engaged, empowered, ethical citizen. This is achieved by providing skills and knowledge to every Kenyan student that they need, to thrive.

Mission of CBC

To nurture every learner’s potential.

National Goals of Education

The CBC is anchored on the National Goals of Education. They are

  1. Foster nationalism and promote national unity-Kenya is made up of over 42 tribes. The competency based curriculum teaches learners to respect and embrace different cultures across the country. It promotes a sense of national pride.
  1. Promote social, economic, technological and industrial needs for national development-The new system is set to instill critical skills to students that will enable them;
  • Participate effectively in the social circles.
  • Support themselves economically.
  • Become competent in technology in tandem with global trends.
  1. Promote individual development and self-fulfillment-CBC will enable learners realize their full potential by helping them develop their gifts, talents and characters.
  1. Promoter sound moral and religious values-Sound moral and religious values are inculcated in every learner as the values are enshrined in the curriculum through various religious subjects.
  1. Promote social equity and responsibility-The new system provides an inclusive and equitable access to quality education and differentiation education to all learners.
  1. Promote respect for and development of Kenya’s rich and varied cultures-Indigenous languages are taught thus enabling learners value their own culture, embrace positive culture practices and respect other people’s culture.
  1. Promote international consciousness and foster positive attitudes other nations-Foreign languages are taught as part of the subjects. This helps students appreciate diverse nations and participate effectively in the international arena.
  1. Promote positive attitude towards good health and environmental protection-Environmental activities and health education are taught to help learners promote environmental conservation and educate them on the importance of well being of self and others.
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Features of CBC

  1. Communication and collaboration-The competency based curriculum aims to teach students how to communicate effectively and work together to realize shared goals as these are important life skills.
  1. Self-efficacy-This is self-belief that one can perform and accomplish a hard task .Learners with high self- belief, approach difficult tasks as challenges rather than threats to be avoided.
  1. Critical and problem solving-The new system teaches learners to think critically by guiding them on how to reason, make judgments and solve problems. This is a key competence for life-long learning.
  1. Creativity and imagination-It enables students find creative solutions to the problems they are facing, thus turning their dreams into reality with ease.
  1. Citizenship-Pertinent and contemporary issues are taught in the competency based learning. Global citizenship is cultivated in all the main subjects by helping students understand they live in a world that is interconnected and should respect others and the planet they live in.
  1. Digital literacy-With all the technology devices around us such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, the world we live in is now a digital space. ICT is used as a learning tool in all the subjects.
  1. Learning to learn-Learning is a continuous process one that helps students to build on past learning and life experiences and to use and apply the knowledge and skills acquired, in a variety of contexts.

Structure of CBC

Below is the structure of the Competency based curriculum

Pre-primary Compulsory Subjects
Pre-primary 1 Pre-primary 24
Language activities
Mathematical activities
Environmental activities
Psychomotor and creative activities
Religious education
Lower Primary Compulsory Subjects
Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3
6 7 8Literacy
Kiswahili Language
English Language
Indigenous Languages
Mathematical activities
Environmental activities
Hygiene and nutrition
Religious education
Movement and creativity
Upper Primary Compulsory Subjects
Grade 4
Grade 5
Grade 6
Home science
Science and Technology
Religious Education
Creative arts
Physical and Health Education
Social Studies
  Optional Subjects
  Arabic French German Mandarin
Lower Secondary Compulsory Subjects
Integrated science
Health Education
Pre-Technical and Pre-career  education
Social studies
Religious Education
Business  Studies
Life Skills education
Sports and Physical education  
Optional Subjects
  Visual arts
Performing arts
Home Science
Computer Science
Kenya Sign Language
Indigenous Language
Senior Secondary Pathways
Arts and Sports Science
Performing Arts
Visual Arts  
Social Sciences
Languages and Literature
Humanities and Business Studies  
Applied Sciences
Technical and Engineering
Careers and Technology  
  Compulsory Subjects
  Community Service
Physical Education

Reasons for curriculum change

Some of the reasons why the 8-4-4 curriculum had to be changed to the competency based learning include;

  • 8-4-4 was too academic and exam oriented thus resulting to content overload.
  • Most schools were not adequately provided with equipped workshops to facilitate the learning of practical skills.
  • Secondary school graduates did not acquire entrepreneurial skills for self-reliance and as a result there was high unemployment rate arising from this phenomenon.
  • Due to high unemployment rate, there was a risk of emergence of social vices such as increased crime, drug abuse and antisocial behavior.
  • The old system did not provide flexible education pathways for identifying and nurturing student talents and interests early enough in order to prepare them for the world of work, career progression and sustainable development.
  • Assessment which is crucial for the provision of quality education was limited to summative assessment whilst the majority of teachers hardly used formative assessment. This led to a situation where there was fierce competition in passing exams instead of focusing on the acquisition of requisite knowledge and skills.
  • The curriculum made little provision for the recognition of a student’s potential gifts and talents .This contributed to a high dropout rate.
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Importance of CBC

  • Learner focused-The Competency based learning is more focused on the students and is quite responsive and relevant to their needs.
  • Focus on competencies-The focus is on appropriate application of knowledge and not just of acquisition of content.
  • Opportunities for local decision making and great depth of study-CBC offers great flexibility in content delivery. Teachers are able to implement the curriculum in autonomous nature.
  • Balance between formative and summative assessment-A range of assessments are offered to gauge a student’s learning.
  • Digitally based-CBC is implemented in a digital environment that supports continuous improvement and support learning with flexible timing and pacing.
  • Collaborative and co-development models-All stakeholders collaborated in the design and creation of the competency based learning.
  • Synchronous development-Learners are able to move seamlessly from one level to the other.

Challenges of CBC

  • Teachers are not fully trained for the implementation of the curriculum.
  • Lack of enough infrastructure to implement the new system such as classrooms and laboratories.
  • Lack of enough teaching personnel as the teacher’s student ratios in public schools is un-proportional. Considering CBC is student focused, learners from these schools will be highly disadvantaged.
  • Lack of adequate teaching and learning resources such as teachers hand books and study material.
  • Resistance from teachers because of different mode of teaching thus an unfriendly learning environment.
  • Lack of support from parents on issues regarding CBC.
  • Competency based learning heavily relies on digital literacy incorporation. This is a real challenge as majority of teachers most of are not digital savvy.
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Implementation of CBC

For implementation to succeed the government should;

  • Invest more on teachers training.
  • Involve teachers in curriculum change process thus cultivating a positive attitude towards CBC.
  • Create a school communication system to aid in smooth implementation of the new curriculum.
  • Hire more teachers and post them to understaffed schools.
  • Avail the necessary resources to schools such as CBC text books.
  • Constantly monitor and evaluate the implementation of the new mode of learning.
  • Disburse enough money in a timely fashion to schools.


The education system in Kenya is changing, and it’s time to rethink the way we conceive education. Competence-based curriculum sets students up for success by developing their skills in a personalized manner, instead of focusing on content knowledge alone. This new form of teaching requires more than just teachers; it takes an entire community effort to rework how our children are educated.

Join us as we explore this revolutionary concept that has been proven effective with powerful results. In addition to providing insight into what competence-based learning looks like, I will also share some resources you can use in your classroom or at home if you have school age children who need help succeeding academically!

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