Thousands stare at bleak future over low grades

Tuesday, January 9th, 2024 04:45 | By
KNEC under fire for delay of invigilators, markers’ pay
KNEC CEO Dr. David Njengere. PHOTO/Print

Thousands of last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination candidates are staring at a bleak future after failing to attain entry grades to universities or tertiary colleges.

The results released yesterday showed that over 373,000 failed to attain the aggregate pass of at least D+ (plus) and above in the national exam.

Similarly, the 2023 KCSE statistics show that at least 690,000 out of 899,453 students failed to score the university entry point of C+ (plus) and above.

Even more worrying is the large number of candidates, totaling 48,174 who scored a mean grade of E in the examination,  given the huge investment put in ensuring education for all.

The number of candidates attaining a pass grade of D plus and above was 526,222 (58.27 per cent) compared to 522,588 (59.14 per cent) in 2022.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu was particularly concerned over the high number of Grade E obtained in last year’s examination saying that D+ should be the lowest score.

“I am pained by the fact that a large number of candidates still ended up scoring a mean grade of E in the 2023 KCSE even after the Ministry used a more flexible system of computing the final overall candidate results,” said the CS when he released the 2023 KCSE exam results yesterday at Moi Girls in Eldoret.

Investigate grades

 He directed the Directorate of Quality Assurance to work with other field officers and teachers to investigate these E Grade cases in each county of the country and submit a report to him in a month for further action.

The CS stated that country must start interrogating data and evidence to enable it to make critical decisions that would ensure that return on investment are realized from all the resources that the Government puts into the education sector.

This came as Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) Chief Executive Officer Dr David Njengere urged Kenyans to clear any pending exam matters saying that there are only four cycles left for the administration of the KCSE examinations under the 8- 4-4 education system.

He said that there are only four cycles left for administration of KCSE in the 8-4-4 education system.

“Any candidate with pending examination matters should arrange to clear them. The Council will allow anyone who would wish to have a second attempt at either full or partial exams to do so within this four-year period,” said Njengere.

KNEC also stated that those who have pending KCSE examination matters are advised to take advantage of the opportunity that the Council has extended to them within the next four years. The CS said 1,216 (0.14 per cent) candidates obtained an overall Grade A in the KCSE compared to 1,146 (0.13 per cent) in 2022.

Minimum qualification grade

The number of candidates who attained the minimum university entry qualification of Grade C+ (plus) and above was 201,133 (22.27 per cent) in the 2023 KCSE exam compared to 173,345 (19.62 per cent) in 2022.

“This is as a result of application of new grading system that reduced the number of compulsory subjects required to compute the mean grade,” said the CS.

In a departure from tradition, Machogu explained that this is the first KCSE results to be released under a new grading structure that was implemented in the 2023 KCSE, with the reviewed grading system approved by KNEC.

“Under the system, the overall grade at the KCSE exam has considered Mathematics, the best performed language subject among English/Kiswahili/Kenyan Sign Language and the best performed five subjects,” Machogu explained.

“As you will find out when I release the results, the new reform measure will allow a larger number of students to pursue courses of their choice at the universities, Diploma and TVET training at Certificate and Artisan levels than was previously when the grading was more restrictive,” he added.

 National schools produced the highest number of candidates with an overall mean grade of A at 889 followed by Extra County with 172 then private schools with 143 then County and Sub County schools with five and seven respectively.

“Overall, I am impressed by the quality of grades that are coming out of our sub-county schools that produced 283 candidates with mean grades of A and A- in the 2023 KCSE. I urge all stakeholders to invest more in the Sub County schools, where more of our learners attend school,” the CS said.

On the overall, more male than female candidates attained a mean grade of A plain at 825 and 391 respectively.

Some 7,254 other candidates scored A- (minus), 18,078 had a B+ (plus), 36,728 scored B plain, while 59,514 and 78,343 others scored B- (minus) and C+ (plus) respectively.

At the same, concerns were raised over the number of students who register to sit the national exams but fail to show up on the actual dates.

President William Ruto directed investigation into the over 3,000 candidates who registered for the 2023 KCSE exam but did not write the exams.

This came even as Machogu said some 7,000 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) who did not sit the exam could still not be traced even after they were given a second chance.

“I promised that the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) will administer a supplementary examination for 9,000 candidates who failed to sit the examination. Upon a further audit of the number of candidates who actually failed to sit the examinations, the Council has only been able to trace 2,000 eligible learners,” said the CS.

Similarly, the CS said the number of candidates that sat the 2023 KCSE examination was less by 3,685 compared with the number that actually registered to sit.

“I am concerned with the number that failed to sit the examination as it would point to a situation where some schools could be inflating the figures of registered candidates to meet the minimum threshold of 30 candidates required to be enlisted as an examination centre,” said the CS.

Although there could be more reasons for the ‘missing’ candidates, Machogu stated that any misrepresentation of figures could imply a wastage of public funds since the Government pays examination fees for candidates based on the data submitted by schools.  “I, therefore, direct the relevant Directorate of Quality Assurance to work with the Kenya National Examinations Council to investigate the 3,685 candidates who failed to sit the 2023 KCSE examination with a view to unearthing their true identity and whereabouts.”

Also in the last year’s exam, 4,113 candidates were reported to have been involved in examination irregularities and KNEC has cancelled results of four cases of reported impersonation after completing investigations.

The results of the remaining 4,109 candidates who were suspected to have engaged in examination irregularities have been withheld pending the completion of investigations into their cases, within a period of 20 days from yesterday.

“It is unfortunate that a few contracted professionals are still insistent on ruining the future of our learners by subjecting them to examination malpractices. Some 120 contracted professionals were reported to have been involved in aiding examination malpractices. Firm disciplinary action will be taken against such teachers,” he said.

The CS said for the first time, the CS said the Ministry introduced a new system of collecting examination materials from the 576 distribution centres countrywide twice each day.

This meant that in the morning, usually at 7am daily, centre Managers could only pick up the first paper of the day and then return to the distribution centres to pick up the second paper that candidates would sit in the afternoon.

Out of the 30 subjects offered, 12 recorded a significant improvement in performance and these include Mathematics, Kiswahili, Biology, Biology for the Blind, CRE, Business Studies, German, Music, Chemistry, Building Construction, French and Electricity.

Fourteen subjects recorded a drop in performance included English, Kenyan Sign Language, Physics, Computer Studies, History and Government, Geography, IRE, Agriculture, Home Science, Wood Work, Metal Work, Power Mechanics, Drawing and Design and Art and Design.

At the same time, Njengere said registration for this year’s KPSEA and KCSE will start on January 29 and run for two months, which is more than adequate for schools to register and validate the data to ensure that all bonafide candidates’ details are upload and that the data is accurate.

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