Basic Education 2019-04-18T13:38:39+00:00

The New Basic Education System in Kenya:

Understanding the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) in Kenya

1. Introduction

Kenya has been having system of education, namely 8-4-4 (four years in primary, 4 years in secondary and four years in university) which is being faced out from 2017. The country is now adopting a Competence based curricular (CBC) whose implementation has begun in earnest. The New, Kenya Basic Education Curriculum Framework is the outcome of extensive stakeholder engagement, a national needs assessment study, deliberations from a national curriculum reform conference and several benchmarking studies. The framework is based on educational provisions of Kenya Vision 2030. It has been developed to actualize the new reforms in Education in Kenya, as the country embraces the new education system, namely 2-6-3-3-3. The structure is as follows: 2 years of pre-primary, 3 years of lower primary, 3 years of upper primary, 3 years of lower secondary, 3 years of senior secondary and 3 years of tertiary education.

This article briefly outlines different levels of education in the new system of education, namely, pre-primary education, primary education and secondary education. The subjects covered in each level of education are also outlined.

2. Pre-Primary Years of Education

Pre-primary level of education covers 2 years, namely pre-primary 1 and pre-primary 2 for children aged between 4 and 5 years.

Figure 1: Pre-primary structural model

Subjects for Pre-primary

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


Note: Digital literacy and pertinent and contemporary issues will be integrated across all Subjects

3. Lower Primary Education

Lower Primary Education takes 3 years, covering grade 1, 2 and 3. The age bracket is expected to be between 6 and 8 years. There will be both formative and national assessment.

Figure 2: Lower primary structural model



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

4. Upper Primary Education

Figure 3: Lower primary structural model

This level of education covers grade 4 to 6, starting from age 9 to age 11 years. There shall be formative and national assessment to assess learning outcome.


The following will be the Subjects in 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


Optional Subjects:

  1. 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.

5. Lower Secondary Education

Lower secondary covers grades 7, 8 and 9 for those aged between 12 and 14 years.

Figure 4: Lower secondary structural model


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:
    1. Christian Religious Education
    2. Islamic Religious Education
  • Hindu Religious Education
  1. Business Studies
  2. Agriculture
  3. Life Skills Education
  4. Sports and Physical Education

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 following:

  1. Visual Arts
  2. Performing Arts
  3. Home Science
  4. Computer Science
  5. Foreign Languages:
  6. German
  7. French
  • Mandarin
  1. Arabic
  2. Kenyan Sign Language
  3. Indigenous Languages


ICT will be a delivery tool for all Subjects

6. Senior Secondary Education

Senior secondary school covers grades 10 to 12 for the age bracket between 15 and 17 years. In this level, there are three learning pathways, namely Arts and Sports Science, Social Sciences, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)


Figure 5: Senior secondary education structural model


Core Subjects

It is expected that the learner takes the two core subjects provided, irrespective of the pathway identified:

  • Community Service Learning
  • Physical Education

1. Arts and Sports Science Pathway

In both the Arts and Sports tracks, the learner will be expected to learn core subjects as well as choose options. Life skills in this learning pathway will be adapted to suit the specific issues in each learning area.

  1. The Arts

Core subjects

  • Legal and Ethical issues in Arts
  • Communication Skills

Optional Subjects

The learner will be required to take one of the following subjects:  i. Performing Arts:

  • Music;
  • Dance;
  • Theatre and Elocution
  1. Visual and Applied Arts
  • Fine Art;
  • Applied Art;
  • Time Based Media and
  • Crafts

b. Sports Science

Core subjects

  1. Human Physiology, Anatomy and Nutrition
  2. Sports Ethics

Optional Subjects

The learner shall choose a minimum of one and a maximum of two of the following subjects according to the learner’s personality, interests, ability and career choices:

  1. Ball Games;
  2. Athletics;
  3. Indoor Games;
  4. Gymnastics;
  5. Water Sports;
  6. Boxing;
  7. Martial Arts;
  8. Outdoor Pursuits;
  9. Advanced Physical Education


  1. The Social Sciences Pathway

a. Humanities

  1. History and Citizenship
  2. Geography
  3. Christian Religious Education
  4. Islamic Religious Education
  5. Hindu Religious Education
  6. Business Studies
  7. Mathematics

b. Languages

  1. English Language
  2. Literature in English
  3. Lugha ya Kiswahili
  4. Fasihi ya Kiswahili
  5. Kenyan Sign Language
  6. Indigenous Languages
  7. Arabic
  8. French
  9. German
  10. Mandarin
  1. Business Studies
  1. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Pathway

a) Pure Sciences

Core subjects

  1. Community Service Learning
  2. Physical Education
  3. ICT


The learner will select a minimum of three of the following subjects:

  1. Mathematics
  2. Physics
  3. Chemistry
  4. Biology

b) Applied Sciences

Core Subjects

  1. Community Service Learning
  2. Physical Education
  3. ICT


The learner shall in addition select one of the following subjects:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Computer Science
  3. Foods and Nutrition
  4. Home Management

c) Technical and Engineering

Core Subjects

  1. Community Service Learning
  2. Physical Education
  3. ICT
  4. Mathematics
  5. Physics/Physical Sciences
  6. Chemistry/Biology/Biological Sciences


The learner shall in addition select one of the following subjects:

  1. Agricultural Technology
  2. Geosciences Technology
  3. Marine and Fisheries Technology
  4. Aviation Technology
  5. Wood Technology
  6. Electrical Technology
  7. Metal Technology
  8. Power Mechanics
  9. Clothing Technology
  10. Construction Technology
  11. Media Technology
  12. Electronics Technology
  13. Manufacturing Technology
  14. Mechatronics
  15. d) Career and Technology Studies (CTS)

Core Subjects

  1. Community Service Learning
  2. Physical Education
  3. ICT


The learner shall in addition select one of the following subjects:

  1. Garment Making and Interior Design
  2. Leather Work
  3. Culinary Arts
  4. Hair Dressing and Beauty Therapy
  5. Plumbing and Ceramics
  6. Welding and Fabrication
  7. Tourism and Travel
  8. Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
  9. Animal Keeping
  10. Exterior Design and Landscaping
  11. Building Construction
  12. Photography
  13. Graphic Designing and Animation
  14. Food and Beverage
  15. Motor Vehicle Mechanics
  16. Carpentry and Joinery
  17. Fire Fighting
  18. Metalwork
  19. Electricity
  20. Land Surveying
  21. Science Laboratory Technology
  22. Electronics
  23. Printing Technology
  24. Crop Production


Republic of Kenya (2017). Basic Education Curriculum Framework. Nairobi: Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.

This version has been compiled to provide a quick overview of the Basic Education Curriculum Framework as developed by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development. To read the full text, kindly visit Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development official website