Is the 8-4-4 Education System Defunct or just Flawed?

Wayua Mutisya

Wayua is a Nairobi Mother and a member of the MumsVillage Social Media Team.

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As a parent, just like any other parent, I’m constantly looking forward to the next milestone that my baby girl will accomplish.

I don’t know about the rest of you guys but I have this annoying habit of only appreciating each achievement for a whooping five minutes and then I begin to obsess about the next milestone that some child development website insists should come at a specific age. However, as a child brought up in a family of scholars (shout out to my mummy who’s an associate professor!), my biggest obsession is the day my girl will excitedly walk into school for the first time ready to soak up all the goodness education has to offer her. God, I hope this will be the case! *fingers crossed*

This is what I day dream about when stuck in traffic on Uhuru Highway heading home after a long day at work. Packing a happy face sandwich for her, dropping her off at school on my way to work, listening to her go on and on about her school teacher every evening…the works!

I remember how excited I’d get as a child when my mum would buy me books. I wasn’t picky; anything with words on paper and I’d gladly bury my nose in it. Back then, we’d sometimes drive all the way from Embakasi to Text Book Centre (TBC) at Sarit Centre and spend over one hour deciding on which book I’d enjoy the most. Sadly, I’d be done reading said book by the time we got back home.

I always wished she’d let me move into TBC at least half of the year. But hey, if wishes were horses…

My enthusiasm for school and books lived on until I got to Standard Seven when I was transferred to a boarding school. This was a culture shock that immediately chocked my love for reading. Why? Well, ever heard of drilling? This new school had teachers who’d probably majored in drilling while in university! All we would do is exam after exam trying to “cover” all scenarios of questions that might be tested in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams. The purpose of learning was singled down to only one thing – excellence. Wait, that is the purpose of learning.

But what defines this excellence? Is it just getting straight As? Being top in your class? Because that’s the message that was being passed across subtly. The term “wholesome education” had no place there. In fact the allotted time for P.E was never used for actual play but absorbed by other teachers.

“Do you think kicking a ball around the field will get you into a national school?”

Yes, I did get into a national school. Yes, I went further and got enrolled in one of the best university’s Kenya has to offer. However, I think this was at an extremely huge cost to my passion for books. Would that I could have become a playwright? Would that I could have become a song writer; using my words to turn emotion into something almost tangible? Sadly we will never know. All I know is that my love for books and words suffered a huge loss the day I enrolled at that boarding school.

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I know my story is a replica of very many Kenyans thanks to the flawed 8-4-4 system which does not focus on nurturing talent. It has failed to a great extent to all rounded individuals for the workforce required for a rapidly developing economy.

Most guys have no idea what they want to do in life by the time they’re in university. The career fairs hosted by local universities will mostly advice you on courses that will give you a “lucrative salary”.   All they know is “get good grades and you’ll be successful in life”. Many guys end up dropping out of campus midway through their course because they realized that they’re pursuing the wrong career. And those are the lucky ones!

So, as I sit in traffic daydreaming about my baby girl’s education, I know without a doubt that even if I cannot afford to take her to schools offering alternative education systems, I am proud of choosing to invest in an education policy that will give her a chance to pursue quality education in a university that will take time to help her decide what career path she wants to take. I am THAT parent that WILL NOT compromise with my girl’s future education.

Is 8-4-4 system as an education system flawed in your opinion? Is the system no longer functioning because of how it’s currently executed? Will investing in an education policy give your child better options at the university stage?

My opinion – don’t take chances, invest in a sound education policy. No debate!

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