Understanding the Competency-Based Curriculum (C.B.C)

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Understanding the Competency-Based Curriculum (C.B.C)



CBC Education System
The Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) consists of a 2-6-3-3-3 education cycle. Every learner undergoes a transition through a minimum of 17 levels, every level a 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.

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

15 Benefits of CBC Curriculum

The CBC curriculum is the preferred education system because the CBC Curriculum’s benefits come from shaping the learners’ future.

1. Better Decision-Making Abilities

CBC aims at letting the learner have flexibility in exploring content at all angles while teachers have been granted the freedom to carry through the curriculum when classes are on.

2. Learner-Focused System

CBC education system majors focus on the learner as an individual rather than the school performance. As a result, the teachers can familiarize themselves with the student’s demands regarding strengths and weaknesses. Leaners hence create a good relationship with teachers who help them shape their talents and careers.

3. Balance Education System

The education system provides a distinctive assessment of many areas of the learner’s development in classwork and co-curricular activities. According to CBC, the learner’s ability is tested all-around.

4. Focus on Competencies

CBC’s central focus is on learners discovering their potential in life. It creates a platform where the learner can positively relate to acquiring knowledge and skills to connect with various disciplines as they advance to their heights.

5. Digitally Based

The teacher-learner alliance creates an opportunity for progressive learner support in a flexible teamwork environment.

6. Synchronous Development

The CBC system encourages corporative learning with learners to assimilate, enhancing positive growth among learners compared to meaningful learning where little positive change is realized.

7. Collaborative Model

The CBC system is a collective responsibility for both stakeholders and curriculum partners to produce local experts who can enhance developments.

8. Community Service Learning

Involving learners in community services exposes them to applying the knowledge acquired during their learning period. Practicing their community development skills creates a ground for the teachers to spot learners’ creativity and potential in discovering specific talents.

9. Distinction between Theory and Practical

The learners are tested on the ability to distinguish what they have learned in class and how practically they can follow instructional approaches in applying the skills outside style. In this manner, the teachers can identify every learner’s potential and know what works for them.

As a result, it becomes easier to help the learner improve their strength and overcome their weaknesses.

10. Parental Empowerment and Engagement

The CBC form of education requires parents to participate in their children’s positive outcomes during their primary education levels. The parents provide a conducive learning environment by being the learners, which motivates the learners to progress in their learning institutions.

Parents need to collaborate with the teachers in providing basic requirements as per the school curriculum demands to enhance the smooth progress of uninterrupted studies.

11. Fosters Excellence

According to the learners’ CBC system, excellence is based on pre-eminence and interest areas rather than just completions for excellence in internal and external examinations and ranking.

12. Expands Learner’s Opportunities

CBC provides learners with a diver’s opportunities to learn from to help them narrow to talent identification and potential exploration according to their needs and capabilities. The system encourages learners to develop a positive attitude towards education by allowing them to access equal education opportunities.

The focus is on discouraging school dropouts as many learners can enjoy exploring their fields of interest.

13. Diversity and Inclusion

CBC system is programmed to help the learners appreciate that everyone is different and unique in terms of brain capacity. They are brought to an understanding that it is ok to be gifted differently and that no gifting is independent.

As a result, all the institutions are compelled to accommodate all the learners regardless of their classwork performance regarding intellectual, physical, and emotional challenges. The learners are brought to an understanding in terms of appreciating diversity in the country, such as

  • Race
  • Language
  • Ethnicity
  • Culture
  • Religion
  • Gender

14. Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking

CBC exposes the learners to a learning system that demands them to reason, make a reasonable judgments and use creativity in arriving at solutions. As opposed to the former education system where learners were required to remember what they were taught, CBC enables the understanding.

Every challenge has an explanation attached. They have to find out how to arrive at the solution without simply cramming an answer.

15. Fosters Imagination and Creativity

CBC does not bind the learner to what is entailed in the syllabus but allows the learners to expand their minds to discover new ideas and images and bring them into accomplishment. The learners can analyze and find discrete patterns to generate solutions that can positively affect the phenomenon.

Focusing on learners’ abilities, the CBC curriculum can be said to be the best education system for learners. Maximum learner’s potential can be realized for the good of all.
Early Year Education (EYE)-

(4-5 years)

This level bestows mastery of basic skills upon the learner.

This group consists of 2 sub-categories:


Lower Primary


This first entry takes a period of 2 years, a learner enters the education system at the minimum age of 4 years old. The first class is PP1 short for Pre-Primary 1 followed by PP2 (Pre-Primary 2).

Pre-Primary is a collective term that contains 2 grades as part of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

Pre-Primary 1 commonly known as PP1

Pre-Primary 2 commonly known as PP2

Students may or may not have to attend Day Care in order to enter this level. The KICD considers Pre-Primary as the formal starting point of learning in Kenya. This is where the 2-6-3-3-3 CBC education cycle initiates.

In 8-4-4, this was what was known as Nursery Schools or Kindergarten Schools. Contrary to what people think, 8-4-4 NEVER recognized nursery schools, as its learning system started at Primary School 8-4-4. As such, nursery schools never truly had any standards stipulated by the Ministry of Education.

CBC replaced subjects with what is known as learning areas this differs from the predecessor in that it majorly consists of activities.

Topics are replaced by strands. A learning area at these levels heavily consists of Activities, this is the use of learning aids such as physical objects such as bottle caps to help the learner in counting in Mathematics. 
Pre-Primary (PP1 & PP2) learning areas include:

  • Mathematics Activities
  • Language Activities
  • Environmental Activities
  • Psychomotor and Creative Activities
  • Religious Education Activities
  • Religious Education Activities consist of
  • Christian Religious Education
  • Islamic Religious Education
  • Hindu Religious Education

In CBC, students are promoted to the next grade based on attainment of a required Expectation Level. No marks. 
Lower Primary

After Pre-Primary, the learner enters the Grade level. This consists 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 an assessment, together with a combination of class-based assessments shall determine if a learner is fit to proceed to the next level.

  • Lower Primary learning areas:
  • English Language Activities
  • Kiswahili Language Activities
  • Mathematics Activities
  • Environment Activities
  • Art & Craft
  • Music
  • Hygiene & Nutrition Activities
  • Movement Activities
  • Christian Religious Education
  • Islamic Religious Education
  • Hindu Religious Education

Switching Exams
basically, a student’s academics is measured over time as they continue learning.

This assessment is done based on 2 types of assessment;

  • Class-Based Assessment
  • School-Based Assessment

Class-Based Assessment is whereby the teacher assesses the student in a larger breadth, precisely matters on:

  • Communication and collaboration
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Learning to learn
  • Digital literacy and self-efficacy

These are quantified by the Expectation Level. Basically, performance on any of the above levels shall fall under 4 levels:

  • Exceeding Expectation (EE)
  • Above Expectation (AE)
  • Average Expectation
  • Below Expectation

At the end of Grade 3, KNEC will have them sit for an assessment, to determine their readiness for the middle school.

A learner at this level is said to be in Middle School.

This category consists of:

  • Upper Primary
  • Junior Secondary
  • Upper Primary (9-11 years)

Consist of grades 3

Grade 4

Grade 5

Grade 6 

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

Subjects Covered.

  • English
  • Home Science
  • Science and Technology
  • Religious Education (CRE/IRE/HRE)
  • Physical and Health Education
  • Kiswahili or Kenya Sign Language (for learners who are deaf 
  • Agriculture
  • Mathematics
  • Creative Arts
  • Social Studies 
  • Optional: Foreign Languages (Arabic, French, German, Mandarin)
  • Additional subjects- featuring between subjects

-Pastoral program-once a week

-Life skills,

-Pertinent, Contemporary issues and ICT

Junior Secondary (12-14 years)
This level categorizes learners into 3 grades consisting of:

Grade 7

Grade 8

Grade 9

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

Core subjects are mandatory and they include:

  • English
  • Kiswahili or Kenyan Sign Language
  • Mathematics
  • Integrated Science
  • Health Education
  • Pre-Technical and Pre-Career Education
  • Social Studies
  • Religious Education
  • Business Studies
  • Agriculture
  • Life Skills
  • Sports and Physical Education

Optional Subjects

Learners should do a minimum of one and a maximum of two optional subjects which include:

  • Visual Arts
  • Performing Arts
  • Home Science
  • Computer Science
  • Foreign Languages (German, French, Mandarin, or Arabic)
  • Kenyan Sign Language
  • Indigenous Languages

Senior Secondary (15-17 Years)
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 on, 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.

The class takes up to 3 years for grade 10, Grade 11, and grade 12. In senior school, the learner already specializes in studies in line with their areas of interest or talent.

 The learners then graduate into higher Education such as university education, further their education, and welcome into work. Higher Education can last depending on the course selected. The least number of years can be at least 3.

Tertiary Education (17 Years and above)
If the learner chooses tertiary education and training, they will undergo a minimum of 3 years. Some careers of cause require longer time frames.

Different courses will require different time spans and this will therefore imply that learners will take varied periods of time in the pursuit of their advanced education. While this marks the end of the structured education system, learners can progress and take as many degrees as they possibly

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