Critical analysis of the foundation and the principles of Competency-Based Curriculum in Kenya: Philosophical perspective


  • Eric Thomas Ogwora Kisii University, Kenya


Competency Based Curriculum, education, philosophy, 8-4-4 system


In about four decades, Kenya has implemented three radically different systems of education. This has come due to the demand for a more proactive, efficient, responsive and foundational system of education that can be able to inculcate proper knowledge, skills and values which foster right competencies, attitude and character that is suitable for the contemporary society. The demand for the right educational system is crucial and timely because the society has undergone unprecedented technological advancement of global information spiking that makes the whole world to share concerns, expectations, desirability and general worldview. This has necessitated the need for constants review, reforms and revision of the educational system so as to march this unparalleled transformations. One such changes in the system of education that has elicited great reaction is the shifting from 8-4-4 to Competency Based Education which is midwifed by the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC). In reference to this, various scholars have come up with arguments regarding the gamut of CBC focusing on both the trivial and mundane, on one hand and the most spectacular and momentous aspect of this curriculum, on the other hand. Notwithstanding this, one of the thing that has remained unanswered is whether there is actual and real philosophical change in the shift from 8-4-4 to Competency Based Education offered by the new CBC. The concern is anchored in the basic assumption that education and philosophy are interdependent.  They are interdependent on the sense that philosophy is the reflective component and education is the active component which together support human life. Ideally speaking, philosophy underpins all knowledge which education espouses. It is the guide and the inspiration of education. It clarifies the aim, goal and objective of education in the society. With this reciprocity in mind, this paper intends to investigate whether Competency Based Education and curriculum in Kenya is based on different philosophical foundation from that of 8-4-4. It will interrogate the philosophical nature, fundamental principles and the theoretical foundation upon which competency based education is offered with a view of showing if there is real and actual shift from that of 8-4-4.


Adafu and Simatwa (2014) argue that the 8-4-4 system of education fails to rescue

Africa. 3(7), 39 –50.

Amutabi, M. N. (2019). Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) and the end of an Era in Kenya’s Education Sector and Implications for Development: Some Empirical Reflections. Journal of Popular Education in Africa. 3(10), 45 – 66.

Aristotle (1966) Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Trans. With Commentaries and Glossary by Hippocrates G. Apostle. Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press.

Bloom, B.S. (1968) Learning for Mastery. Instruction and Curriculum. Regional Education Laboratory for the Carolinas and Virgina, Topical Papers and Reprints, number 1.

Burnet, J. Aristotle on Education. Cambridge; University Press, 1903

Cronin, Brian. (1999) the Foundation of Philosophy: Lonergan’s Cognitional Theory and Epistemology. Nairobi: Consolata Institute of Philosophy Press.

Dewey J, 1899. The School and Society. Chicago University Press.

Dewey, John. (1916) Democracy and Education. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.

Digolo, O.O. (2006). The Challenges of Education in Kenya in the 21st

Century. Journal of the school of Education, 1 (1).

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, (1903) The Collected Works Ralph Waldo Emerson, Centenary Ed. IV. (Boston: Waldo Association)

Freire, Paul. 1993. Pedagogy of the Oppressed London: Penguin Books. Government Printers.

Initiative Limited. Sifuna, D.N., (1976). Vocational Education in Schools, Nairobi: East

J. Preston, 2017 Competency Based Education and Training (CBET) and the End of Human Learning

Kenya -Prospects and Challenges of Implementation. Journal of Popular Education in

Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) (2002). Secondary Education

Syllabus. Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau.

Lonergan, Barnard. (1957) Insight: Study of Human Understanding. (London: Longmans, Green & Co.)

Lonergan, Barnard. (1997)Topic in Education. Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan Vol. 10. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Lonergan, Bernard (1973) Method in Theology. London: Darton, Longman, and Todd.

Lonergan, Bernard (1985) A Third Collection: Papers by Bernard J.F. Lonergan, S.J. Ed. F.E Crowe. New York: Paulist Press.

Lonergan, Bernard. (1967) Collection: Papers by Bernard Lonergan. Edited by F. E Crowe. New York: Herder and Herder.

Lonergan, Bernard. (1974) A Second Collection: Papers by Bernard J. F. Lonergan S.J. Eds W. F.J. Ryan and B.J. Tyrell. London: Darton, Longman and Todd.

Lonergan, Bernard. (1988) Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan: Topics in Education. Edited by Robert M Doran and Frederick E Crowe. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Nyerere, Julius k. (2004) Education for Service and not for Selfishness” in Nyerere on Education, edited by Elieshi Lema et al,. Dar es salam: Haki Elimu.

Nyerere, Julius K. ( 2004) Education: A Commentary. Haki Elimu working paper.

Nyerere, Julius K. (2004) Nyerere on Education: A Commentary. Haki Elimu working paper. Dar Salaam: Dar Salam.

Ogwora, Eric Thomas. (2020)Transcendental Method in Philosophy as the Foundation of Scientific, Mathematical, Theological and Historical Methods of Study. Journal of African Interdisciplinary Studies 4 (4)

Ogwora, et al. (2013). Philosophy as a Key Instrument in Establishing Curriculum, Educational policy, Objectives, Goals of Education, Vision and Mission of Education. Journal of Education and Practice Vol. 4 (11)

Ominde, S. H. (1964). Kenya Education Commission Report. Republic of Kenya. Nairobi:

Shiwani G..s (1993). Education in Kenya since Independence, EAEP. Nairobi.

Sifuna, D. N and Otiende, J. E., (2009). An Introductory History of Education. Nairobi:

Sifuna, D. N & Obonyo, M. M. (2019). Competency Based Curriculum in Primary Schools in

Sifuna, D. N. (1990).The Development of Education in Africa. The Kenyan Experience, Nairobi:

Stewart, J.A. Plato’s Doctrine of Ideas. Oxford, 1909.

Thoreau, Henry David, (1920) Collected Works, Concord Ed. (Washington: Washington Press)

Tract, David. ( 1996).The Achievement of Bernard Lonergan. New York: Herder and Herder.

Tuxworth, E. (1989). ‘Competency based education and training: background and origin’, in Burke, J. W. (ed.), Competency Based education and training, Oxon:Falmer Press, 10-25

Tyler, R.W. (1949). Basic Principles of Curriculum Instruction, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press

Wain Keneth, (2011) On Rousseau, An Introduction to his Radical Thinking on Education and Politics

Wanjohi, A.M. (2011). Development of Education System in Kenya since Independence

Wiles J. and Bondi, J. (1998). Curriculum Development a Guide to Practice(5th Ed)Upper saddle River, New Jersy: Prentice – Hall Inc.






How to Cite

Critical analysis of the foundation and the principles of Competency-Based Curriculum in Kenya: Philosophical perspective. (2022). Research Journal in Comparative Education, 3(2).

Similar Articles

1-10 of 14

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.