Girls shine in KCPE

What you need to know:

  • Female candidates dominate top five and lead in most provinces
  • Over 1,800 results cancelled due to cheating
  • Rift Valley has highest number of absentees

Girls dominated the top five positions in this year’s Standard Eight examinations whose results were released on Tuesday.

Monica Wairimu Mutinda of High Gate Academy, Mombasa, was the best student countrywide with 460 marks out of 500.

She was followed by Martin Mzera, also of High Gate Academy, and Catriona Akinyi Onyango of Booker Academy, Western Province, who scored 454 marks each.

Coming closely in fourth place was another girl, Yahya Salama Mohammed of Makini School, Nairobi, who got 453 marks while Paul Mbuthia Njogu of Rift Valley Molo Academy was fifth with 452 marks.

In total, there were three girls among the top five candidates, a major improvement over last year’s results. Out of the top 10 positions, however, there were 10 boys and eight girls. Most of the candidates tied in the various ranks.

Girls topped in four of the eight provinces — Coast, Nairobi, Central and Eastern — a clear indication that they were competing at par with their male counterparts.

Private schools continued to hog the top positions to the detriment of public schools that have been slowed down by large enrolment and inadequate facilities after free primary education was introduced five years ago.

The Kenya National Examination Council did not rank performance according to districts, municipalities and schools as has been the practice in the past.

With 460 marks, the top candidate raised the bar over last year’s best — Michael Mutava Mulei of St Kevins Mombasa and Solomon Aduol of Busara Academy, who scored 455 marks each.

Announcing the results in Nairobi on Tuesday, Education minister Sam Ongeri expressed optimism that the goal for gender equality in schools, both in terms of access and performance, was gradually being realised.

“With the performance witnessed this year, there is every reason to believe that we are on a sure path towards gender equity in education,” said Prof Ongeri.

Some 695,737 candidates sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in 19,291 centres. Of these, 47.2 per cent were girls. This year’s number of candidates represented a slight drop from last year’s 704,918.

The results were released at the Kenya Institute of Education, Nairobi, at a ceremony attended by among others assistant minister Ayiecho Olweny, Education Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi and Education Secretary George Godia and top ministry officials.

The results were handed over to the minister by the chairman of the Kenya National Examination Council (Knec), Prof Raphael Munavu and the secretary, Mr Paul Wasanga.

Results of some 1,835 candidates were cancelled for cheating, a slight rise over last year’s 1,728. Most of the affected centres were in Nyanza (19), North Eastern (16) and the Rift Valley (11).

The worst case scenario was in five refugee camps — Dadaab, Abdiaziz, Halane, Central and Alleys — where candidates refused to surrender their mobile phones, which they used during the exams. These created disturbances that delayed the exams.

Fight irregularities

Prof Ongeri asked parents and guardians to help the Government fight irregularities.

“In fighting such irregularities, we will be protecting the credibility of their certificates and our education system,” the minister said.

Performance improved in five out of the eight papers offered at KCPE — English objective (from 40 per cent last year to 41 this year), Kiswahili objective (from 51 per cent to 57 per cent), Kiswahili composition (43 to 46 per cent), social studies (60 per cent to 61 per cent) and religious studies (59 to 60 per cent).

However, there was a marked drop in English composition scores, from 47 per cent last year to 42 this year; mathematics (49 per cent to 47) and Science (59 per cent to 55).

Yet, these are critical subjects that determine progression to higher levels and entry to key professions at tertiary institutions and universities.

About half of the candidates — 346,885 — scored 250 marks (50 per cent) and above. But that does not mean they automatically qualify to join secondary schools.

From practice, only those with 300 marks and above are admitted to the 6,400 secondary schools countrywide.

Due to the violence that rocked the country in the early part of the year, some 212 candidates sat their examinations in the Eldoret Showground camp for internally displaced persons.

Even so, most of them defied the odds and posted good grades. The best obtained 390 marks, demonstrating remarkable resilience in the face of adversity.

Prof Ongeri highlighted unethical practices by some private schools. He cited an unnamed school in Mombasa which poached bright candidates from a public school and registered its weak pupils in another school to ensure that it got a high mean score.

The school’s results were cancelled.

The minister also expressed concerned over the increasing number of candidates missing exams — 6,605 this year compared to 6,185 last year.

Although he was not categorical about the cause of the anomaly, some candidates could have dropped out due to poverty or early marriages. Some could be cases of double-listing or other unethical registration practices.

The highest number of absentees were recorded in the Rift Valley Province, which had 1,747 up from 1,587 last year. It was followed by Nyanza with 1,297 absentee candidates compared to 1,193 the previous year.

“I have instructed my officers to investigate causes of absenteeism during KCPE examination and take the necessary action,” Prof Ongeri said as he ruled out the post-election turbulence as possible reason for those who skipped the tests.

Gender parity

Although gender parity had been realised in Central, Nairobi and Eastern provinces, inequalities still persisted in Nyanza, Coast, Rift Valley and North Eastern provinces.

The worst cases were North Eastern where boys comprised 75 per cent of the candidates and girls only 25 per cent.

Among the candidates were 13,608 children from non-formal schools found in slums, arid and semi-arid areas. There were 1,208 others with special learning needs; 3,765 from 32 refugee camps in addition to 416 in Southern Sudan.

The results are available through SMS (2228) or the Kenya National Examination Council’s website ( Form One selection begins on January 8.