The 8-4-4 system of education which started in  1985 is coming to an end to pave away for  Kenya’s new 2-6-6-3 (2-6-3-3-3) education curriculum framework.  Reports indicate that new education curriculum will be tested starting May 2017 in a few selected schools by the ministry of education led by CS Fred Matiangi and KICD. 

Why Curriculum reform in Kenya
The vision of the basic education curriculum reforms is to enable every Kenyan to become an engaged, empowered and ethical citizen. This will be achieved by providing every Kenyan learner with world class standards in the skills and knowledge that they deserve, and which they need in order to thrive in the 21st century. This shall be accomplished through the provision of excellent teaching, school environments and resources and a sustainable visionary curriculum that provides every learner with seamless, competency based high quality learning that values every learner.

Basic Education Curriculum Framework Pillars
The basic education curriculum framework vision and mission are supported by three important pillars; values, theoretical approaches and guiding principles.

Basic Education will be organized into three (3) levels: Early Years EducationMiddle School Education and Senior School.

1) Early Years Education (5 year): Pre-primary and Lower primary

This shall comprise two years of pre-primary and three years of lower primary school education

  • Pre-primary Education

All learners are expected to begin their education at this level. It is a two year programme.

Subjects for Pre-primary (Two Years)

  1. Language Activities
  2. Mathematical Activities
  3. Environmental Activities
  4. Psychomotor and Creative Activities
  5. Religious Education Activities
  • Lower Primary

The learners from pre-primary 2 will join lower primary in grade 1 at about 6 years of age and spend 3 years in this part of Early Years Education before exiting to middle school at the end of grade 3.

The following will be the Subjects in lower primary

  1. Literacy
  2. Kiswahili Language Activities/Kenya Sign Language for learners who are deaf
  3. English Language Activities
  4. Indigenous Language Activities
  5. Mathematical Activities
  6. Environmental Activities
  7. Hygiene and Nutrition Activities
  8. Religious Education Activities
  9. Movement and Creative Activities

NB: ICT will be a learning tool in all areas.
Pertinent and contemporary issues will be mainstreamed in all Subjects.

2). Middle School Education 6 years (upper primary and lower secondary)

This shall comprise three years of upper primary and three years of lower secondary education.

  • Upper Primary

Upper primary is part of middle school. It is a three year programme where learners are exposed to a broad curriculum and given an opportunity for exploration and experimentation.
Subjects for Upper Primary

  1. English
  2. Kiswahili or Kenya Sign Language (for learners who are deaf)
  3. Home Science
  4. Agriculture
  5. Science and Technology
  6. Mathematics
  7. Religious Education (CRE/IRE/HRE)
  8. Creative Arts
  9. Physical and Health Education
  10. Social Studies


11. Foreign Languages (Arabic, French, German, Mandarin)


ICT will be cross cutting in all subjects.
Pertinent and contemporary issues and life skills will be mainstreamed in all Subjects.
A pastoral program of instruction will be conducted once a week.

  • Lower Secondary

Secondary education is organized into two levels namely, lower secondary (Grades 7, 8 and 9)
and senior school (Grades 10, 11 and 12).

Graduates of primary school Grade 6 shall join lower secondary at Grade 7. Lower secondary will expose the learner to a broad based curriculum to enable them to explore their own abilities,personality and potential as a basis for choosing subjects according to career paths of interest at the senior school. At Grade 4 learners will be introduced to the optional subjects offered at upper primary so as to make informed choices at Grade 7. Learners in lower secondary will undergo a rigorous career guidance programme and be exposed to the related subjects to enable them to make informed choices as they transit to senior school.

Subjects for Lower Secondary School
The Subjects are in two categories; core and optional subjects. At this level, a broad based curriculum is offered to enable the learner to explore their own interests and potential as a basis for choosing subjects according to career paths of interest at senior level.
Core Subjects
Learners will be required to take the 12 core subjects provided.
1. English
2. Kiswahili or Kenyan Sign Language for learners who are deaf
3. Mathematics
4. Integrated Science
5. Health Education
6. Pre-Technical and Pre-Career Education
7. Social Studies
8. Religious Education – learners choose one of the following:
i. Christian Religious Education
ii. Islamic Religious Education
iii. Hindu Religious Education
9. Business Studies
10. Agriculture
11. Life Skills Education
12. Sports and Physical Education

NB: ICT will be a delivery tool for all Subjects.
Optional Subjects
Learners are provided with an opportunity to choose a minimum of one and a maximum of two subjects according to personality, abilities, interests and career choices from the list provided.
1. Visual Arts
2. Performing Arts
3. Home Science
4. Computer Science
5. Foreign Languages:
i. German
ii. French
iii. Mandarin
iv. Arabic
6. Kenyan Sign Language
7. Indigenous Languages

3). Senior School

Senior School comprises three years of education targeted at learners in the age bracket of 15 to 17 years and lays the foundation for further education and training at the tertiary level and the world of work. It marks the end of Basic Education as defined in the Education Act, 2013.
Learners exiting this level are expected to be “empowered, engaged and ethical citizens” ready to participate in the socio-economic development of the nation.
The learner entering this level shall have had opportunities at lower secondary to explore their own potential, interests and personality and is therefore ready to begin specialisation in a career path of choice. The specialisation entails choosing to pursue studies in one of the three pathways available in senior school. He or she can choose the Arts and Sports Science, Social Sciences or Science Technical Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pathway.
Schools will be specialised institutions that will provide opportunities for learners to focus in a field of their choice as well as form a foundation for further education and training and gaining employable skills. Senior schools will be required to therefore organise open days to enable learners and parents to glean the information necessary for effective decision- making. Additionally, a robust parental empowerment and engagement programme will be necessary to strengthen the involvement of parents in this process.

senior school learning subjects in kenya new curriculum
senior school learning subjects in Kenya new curriculum/Photo

In Kenya, each senior school is expected to make informed decisions with regards to the pathway of choice based on the requisite infrastructure that would ensure development of the competencies identified in that pathway. The three pathways are: (1) Arts and Sports Science (2) Social Sciences (3) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

Within the three pathways there are various tracks. Schools can also decide to offer one or more track in the pathway depending on the ability to acquire the infrastructure necessary for acquisition of the identified competencies

Education for Learners with Special Educational Needs
Learners with special educational needs, like any other learner, have potential that needs to be nurtured. The special needs education curriculum model illustrated below indicates curriculum provision for learners with special needs.

learners with special needs new curriculum model in kenya

Learners with special educational needs who may follow the regular curriculum may include those with:

  • visual Impairment
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Physical Handicap
  • Mild Cerebral Palsy
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Autism
  • Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties
  • Communication Disorders and the
  • Gifted and Talented

Learners with Special Needs Who May Not have their needs met from just following the Regular Curriculum
Learners with special needs who may not have their needs met from just following the regular curriculum may include those with:

  • Mental Handicap
  • Deaf blindness
  • Severe Autism
  • Severe Cerebral Palsy
  • Multiple Handicaps
  • Profound Disabilities

We hope you have got a basic understanding of the 2-6-6-3 curriculum.

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