The announcement of 2023  KCPE results dealt a blow of shock to some candidates and their parents after they posted grades that were way below their expectations.

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How to help your child accept KCPE results, prepare for secondary school life

Last week on Thursday, parents waited with bated breath for KCPE results to be announced. The Ministry of Education had stated that the announcement would be at 8:00 am but ran uncharacteristically late further raising the tension.

This year, 1,406,577 candidates sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and the cohort brought down the curtains on the 8-4-4 system. Of these, 8,523 candidates managed to score 400 marks and above with the leading pupil scoring 428 marks.

As usual, celebrations rented the air moments after the results were announced as various candidates began receiving their results. Those who performed well were carried shoulder-high by jubilant teachers and parents, some braving the heavy downpours that have been experienced over the past few weeks across the country and taking to the streets to celebrate the victory.

However, the announcement dealt a blow of shock to some candidates and their parents after they posted grades that were way below their expectations. We spoke to a few parents who found the results underwhelming and how they, together with their children, are coping with the news.

Last minute accident derailed my son

Lenah Nyaboke had spent years preparing her son, Osteen Njuguna Karanja, 14, for his KCPE exams. She enrolled him in a boarding school and paid tuition so that he could pass his exams. His grades reflected the effort injected by both mother and son, they were swollen with promise of a starling performance in the finance exam. However, this was not to be.

Two days before the exams kicked off, Lenah received a call from the school informing her that Osteen had been attacked by the school’s security dogs. A wave of panic washed over her as she quickly made her way to the school. Upon arriving, she gathered that Osteen was attacked by the dogs on his way to class. They wrestled him to the ground injuring his head and limbs. He was taken to hospital and received treatment.

“I thank God that my son was able to sit for his exams despite being in pain and bandages. Just before the incident, I had talked with his teacher on the phone and he assured me that Osteen was ready to face the exams. They had prepared enough and he appeared confident. So when the call came informing me about the attack, I knew that this would affect my son. I felt bad that this happened, especially just before he sat for the exam.”

Indeed, the incident left Osteen visibly shaken. Although he had featured among the best performers in his class in the tests leading to KCPE, Lenah knew that her son may not perform too well given the circumstances.

“Osteen scored 214 marks. When he saw his results, he wept because he had hoped to perform well. I took time to encourage him. For me, even being able to sit for the exam was a miracle and I was thankful for the marks he scored.”

Presently, Osteen is still on medication following the attack. Together with the mum, they are slowly coming to terms with the news of his performance.

“We are looking forward to him joining high school. Osteen is deaf so we are hoping to secure a slot in one of the deaf schools in the country. I will do my best to help him pursue education to the highest level because he is a determined and brave boy. His future is bright.”

Lenah, who is the treasurer of the Kenya National Paralympic Committee, also has a disability and uses a wheelchair to move around. She anticipates the search for a good secondary school will come with its list of challenges but remains hopeful that Osteen will join high school next year.

“Besides the challenge of moving about, there are also needs like his hearing aid, school supplies, and fees that will need to be catered for. I trust God for provision.”

She fell 8 marks short of my expectation

Any parent who is actively involved in the school life of their child is quite conversant with their academic abilities and potential. For such a parent, results are hardly a shocker. However, their prediction can be off causing them to receive their children’s results with a tinge of disappointment. Alfred Amalemba from Kakamega is one such parent who struggled with accepting his daughter’s results but is now coming to terms with the reality.

“My daughter Angela scored 282 marks. I had expected her to score between 300 and 400 marks based on the trend of her performance before the KCPE. I suspect the tension got the best of her, perhaps seeing the police officers with their big guns gave her chills and distracted her from the exam paper.”

Despite the results, Alfred is proud of having done his best to provide his daughter the chance to do KCPE and get into secondary school.

“I am not employed, so I had to do lots of manual labour to support the family and also get her the necessary supplies for school. Sometimes even affording the Sh50 for school lunch was difficult but I managed.”

Alfred is optimistic that his daughter will join form one and complete high school with a better grade that will see her join university and achieve her dream career of becoming a nurse.

“She is a bright girl and I am sure she will achieve her dream. My hope is to get a scholarship for her so I can manage to educate my other children.”

According to Alfred, examination tension can hinder a child from maximising his or her potential. Reassurance and preparing them for the exam scenario, for example, strict invigilators, security officers, and tough rules can help them settle in better in the exam room and focus on the paper in front of them.

Expert’s take:

According to Dr Gladys Mwiti, a clinical psychologist, coping with exam results necessitates parental support and student acceptance.

“It is important to celebrate with those who did well, whether you passed or not. As for those who felt disappointed with the results, the best thing to do is accept the reality and prepare for the future,” she says.

She adds that society has raised the bar for students in the run-up to exam season. That, she says, causes children to enter exam rooms excited about becoming top performers, which only creates anxiety. It is important for candidates to receive encouragement, of course, but this should be done soberly as no one can guarantee results predictions. For instance, parents should avoid giving ultimatums to candidates such as, “I know you will score 400 marks and above.”

On the other hand, candidates shouldn’t have low expectations of themselves and set the bar too low lest they succumb to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“Don’t think of yourself as a failure because that too will increase anxiety. Bloom where you are planted, focus on your strengths, appreciate the blessings around you and you will fly high.”

On the other hand, Wanyonyi Wafula, a life coach, encourages parents to recognise their children's unique talents as these too can be nurtured into vibrant careers and meaningful life in general.

“Now that the results are out, parents need to focus on preparing their children for the next phase of life. Secondary schools will call for independence and a sense of responsibility, they should start cultivating that.”

When announcing the results last week, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Ezekiel Machogu, said that the government has the capacity to accommodate all the candidates who sat for this year’s KCPE in secondary schools across the country. It is therefore prudent to think beyond the results and start planning for secondary school life.

That said, a few concerns have been raised concerning the results and the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) has been taxed to fix the discrepancies raised and restore the public’s confidence in national examinations. In an article published on Monday this week by Daily Nation, the Council of Governors (CoG) called on Knec to urgently address the issue of mixed-up results awarded to pupils in the recently released KCPE results. According to the article, Dr David Njengere, the Knec chief executive officer acknowledged errors in the examination results affecting 133 candidates.

He further stated that all the cases had been addressed and the results updated accordingly. Further, in a press statement issued by Knec on Saturday, November 25, 2023, Dr Njengere urged candidates to visit their schools to collect official results and raise any queries for review of their results, if any, within stipulated 30 day period.