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Last year’s KCSE results c*rries ech*es of the past

Monday, May 17th, 2021 00:00 | By
Butere Girls High School in Kakamega county posted stellar performance in the 2020 KCSE exam. Photo/PD/DOUGLAS DINDI

The 2020 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination results released last week by education cabinet secretary Prof George Magoha bore echoes of the past national test results and evokes memories of examination cheats of yore.

The unique feature of the exam done in March/April 2021 as a result of the disruption of the academic calendar by the corona virus pandemic is the elongated tail end basement grade Ds and Es scored by some candidates and notable grade As, A- (minus) and B+ (plus), that are consistent with high-end schools.

The overbearing feature is, however, the steady annual rise of the As from the low of 143 in 2016, when  Prof Magoha was chairman of the Kenya national examination council (Knec) under the then minister Dr Fred Matiang’i to the current high of 873 As.

A total of 2,685 candidates scored straight As, which is almost three fold the current numbers.

Only 5,320 candidates scored Es when Prof Magoha took charge compared to 28,046 in this year’s exam reflecting just a fifth.

Some educationists have questioned the exponential growth in the A grade, which Prof. Magoha at one time in 2016 described as unrealistic; and wondered whether exam cartels within Jogoo house have regrouped  to slide back reforms that restored the credibility of the national tests. 

The extension of the tail end grade D, D-(minus) and E, which totalled 286,000 candidates in this exam is perhaps the only consolation that coronavirus did not wipe out the gains made in 2015 whose number totalled 295,463. In words of encouragement, Prof Magoha says the candidates still have a chance to excel in life.

“I don’t  want to believe this result does not reflect the true ability of our students.

The results surpassed the public expectation at this time the coronavirus pandemic has crippled every sector of our society,” Anthony Mutevani, quipped when asked what caused the big leap in performance of top end schools.

Mutevani, a programme officer with the Canadian Harambee Education Society (Ches) a civil rights group supporting bright needy students  says the 2020 KCSE results bears some facets of the 2015 exam.

A cumulative 143,140 candidates had C+ (plus) and above last year compared to 165,766 in 2015, unlike the years in between when candidates above this score were below 90,000 except 2019 which posted 125,746 students above C+ (plus).

Did the pandemic compromise the Knec system monitors?  

He explains, “When you analyse the performance index of some top schools then you realise the difference is the same.”

Improvement of 2019

The results described by Prof Magoha as an improvement of the 2019 KCSE has left candidates’ from high end national schools enthralled  and dimmed hopes for hundreds of other candidates particularly those drawn from the so called sub-county public secondary schools.

A total of 143,000 candidates who sat the 2020 KCSE exam scored the mandatory university entry requirement of C+ (plus) and above.

This number is almost double the figure reported in 2016 KCSE exam results, where only 143 of the 86,000 candidates  who scored the mean grade C+(plus) had straight As.

The year 2016 marked great changes in the education sector to curb examination irregularities resulting in a drastic drop in the number of students who scored A (plain) from 2,636 and 3,073 in 2015 and 2014 respectively to 141. This pointed towards a collective failure by the class of 2016.

In terms of percentage, less than three per cent of the candidates (21,740) scored the B+ (plus) grade and above, which is consistent with  top notch courses at the university.

On the flipside, some 38 per cent of the 743,000 candidates must now restart their career training though village polytechnics after attaining below D (plain).

National schools accounted for the bulk of the As (495) and more than half (3,200) of the 5,796 A-(minus ) grades followed by private schools (67 As) and extra county schools (61 As).

The sub county schools recovered to top the list of those scoring Es accounting for 17,894 0f the 29318 total Es that year followed by private schools (8,718).

Undisputed records of the 2020 KCSE class show Kapsabet High school in Nandi  county emerged as the top school in roll of honour with a performance mean of 10.53, essentially A-(Minus), followed by the Kenya High school in Nairobi with 10.3, a B+(plus) and Mang’u High in third place with 10.28 points.

All students university bound

At Kapsabet school only two of the 352 candidates registered for the KCSE exam failed to get a mean grade of C+ (Plus). 

The school had 65As 133 A-(minus), 99 B+(plus)  and one C (plain) and one C-(minus) to cap a 99 per cent transition to university under the Joint Admissions Board.

Like in the discredited 2015 leakage riddled KCSE exam that cost careers at Jogoo House and Knec, Kabarak High school won the roll of honour with a performance index of 11.56 equivalent of A (plain) after her candidates scored 200 straight As.

Overall, the current figure of 143,000 C+(plus) and above is only 23,000 shy of the  169,492 candidates who sat the 2015 exam, and made the minimum university entry cut-off grade, yet they have earned an applause from government.

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