With this week’s news round-up, we bring you the latest on the visiting King, a worrying story of ‘witchcraft’ and violence and all that you need to know about the end of the Kenya Certificate for Primary Education.
King Charles III in Kenya
This week, King Charles III was in Kenya as a part of an historic four-day visit; it was his first state visit to a Commonwealth country as king. This trip underscores his unwavering commitment to an organization that has played a pivotal role in Britain’s global influence and prestige since World War II.
This visit carries profound symbolism, as it harks back to a moment in history when Charles’ mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, received the news of her ascent to the British throne. It was amidst the breathtaking landscapes of a game preserve in Kenya in 1952 that she learned of her new royal status.
The royal couple, King Charles III and Queen Camilla, arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport late on Monday. They were warmly welcomed by Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary and Foreign Minister, Musalia Mudavadi, and the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Neil Wigan.
During his visit, King Charles addressed certain sensitive chapters of history shared by the United Kingdom and Kenya, especially in light of Kenya’s 60th anniversary of independence from British rule. Despite their post-colonial alliance, the struggle for independence, often referred to as the Mau Mau Rebellion, witnessed significant hardships, including executions, detentions without trial, and human rights abuses.
King Charles couldn’t not address some of the historic injustices suffered on Kenya under British rule. However, he was careful in his wording of these addresses and stopped short of offering Kenyans an apology. For those searching for an apology, the closes King Charles came was in stating that “The wrongdoings of the past are a cause of the greatest sorrow and the deepest regret”, while he was at a state banquet.
Traffic in Nairobi experienced minor disruptions on Tuesday morning, as the city prepared to host the British monarch. Nairobi’s governor, Johnson Sakaja, had advised residents to anticipate some traffic inconveniences.
The historical bonds between the U.K. royal family and Africa have deep roots. In 1947, the future queen, Queen Elizabeth II, expressed her lifelong commitment to Britain and the Commonwealth during a speech from South Africa on her 21st birthday. Furthermore, in 1952, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were in Kenya’s Aberdare National Park when they received the news of her father’s passing and her accession to the throne, fortifying their connection to this remarkable continent.Top of Form
Homes burnt down in ‘witchcraft’ tumult
Korongoi Village, nestled in the heart of Kapcherop division within the Elgeyo Marakwet region of Kenya, recently witnessed a distressing episode that left several families destitute. The tranquility of this rural community was shattered as a conflagration of suspicion and superstition engulfed their homes, invoking unsettling historical echoes of witchcraft-related strife in the region.
The unfortunate saga unfolded when a seemingly innocuous quarrel between two schoolmates escalated into a harrowing incident. A young boy’s act of tearing and burning his classmate’s book set off a chain reaction that plunged the community into chaos. The classmate’s family, attributing this destructive act to witchcraft, accused the boy and his family of practicing dark arts.
Nelson Chemitei, a resident who also fell victim to the ensuing chaos, lamented, “We were shocked when the family members linked the ripping of the notebook to witchcraft. The boy is said to have torn the notebook before burning it, an act that offended family members who concluded that it was witchcraft, which led to the attack and burning of our houses.” The situation escalated further when a group of about 30 people, armed with crude weapons, descended upon their homestead, accusing them of witchcraft and setting their houses ablaze.
While the perpetrators remain at large, Kapcherop Division Deputy County Commissioner Abdulrahman Karnen is resolute in bringing them to justice. Despite initial reluctance from affected families to cooperate with law enforcement due to fears of further reprisals, Karnen affirmed, “The suspects behind the arson attack are still at large, but we are determined to arrest and charge them.” As the community grapples with the aftermath of this traumatic event, it underscores the pressing need for addressing the historical and contemporary issues surrounding witchcraft in Kenya’s heartland.
Instances of witchcraft-linked violence are not uncommon in Kenya. A recent report authored by the Haki Yetu Organisation, an NGO operating on Kenya’s coast, stated that, in the last two years, over 160, mostly elderly people, have been killed after being accused of witchcraft.
KCPE exams come to an end, focus shifts to KCSE
After an often tumultuous 38-year journey, the Kenya Certificate for Primary Education Examinations (KCPE) is on the verge of fading into history as the last cohort prepares to tackle this venerable test. A total of 1,415,315 candidates will embark on the final KCPE exams, marking the end of the nearly four-decade-old 8-4-4 educational system.
The Ministry of Education is ushering in a new era by replacing the 8-4-4 curriculum with the Competency-Based Curriculum, featuring a 2-6-6-3 system. The government champions this transition as the most effective way to equip learners with relevant skills and reduce the intense pressure to achieve high scores that has become synonymous with the outgoing 8-4-4 system.
Maria Goretti Nyariki, who took the inaugural KCPE exam in 1985, reflects on how the pressure to excel has evolved over the years. In her view, the pursuit of high scores has compromised the authenticity of the exams due to rampant corruption and exam theft. Furthermore, the commercialization of exams has flourished, with schools and parents emphasizing performance at the expense of learners’ well-being.
The Competency-Based Curriculum is not without its challenges, but Nyariki believes it will offer early exposure and help students discern their desired life paths. She acknowledges the immense pressure on today’s learners, who face an avalanche of books and assignments, which her generation did not.
As KCPE is phased out, learners will now sit their first national exam at Grade 6, which is followed by the Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KEPSEA) exam. While KEPSEA will not determine progression to Junior Secondary School for Grade 7, it will serve as a monitoring tool for learners’ achievements. Last year marked the inaugural KEPSEA exam, and this year, 1,282,574 Grade 6 candidates are simultaneously taking their KEPSEA exams alongside the final KCPE.
Notably, the traditional KCPE subjects will give way to 12 new areas under KEPSEA, consolidating into five distinct testing categories. The KEPSEA exam will contribute only 40% to a learner’s overall grade, with the remaining 60% derived from classroom-based continuous assessment tests conducted in Grades 4, 5, and 6. As Kenya’s education landscape evolves, learners and educators are poised for a new chapter in the nation’s academic journey.