Education CS Machogu dismisses Nyanza bias claims in KCSE grades row

Ezekiel Machogu

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu. 

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi I Nation Media Group

Questions have emerged over the credibility of last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams after some schools recorded a sudden rise in the number of candidates with straight As.

In the results released by Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu last Friday, 1,146 candidates scored an A compared to 1,138 candidates in 2021.

Focus is on some schools particularly in Nyanza region that posted a drastic increment in the number of candidates who scored the top grades. For instance, in Nyambaria High School, 28 candidates scored As in 2022 compared to four in 2021.

The lowest grade for the class was a B minus and the school had a mean score of 10. This means all the 488 candidates will get direct entry to universities.

At St Pauls Gekano Boys High School, all the 142 candidates attained the university minimum entry grade of C plus and above. The school posted a mean grade of 9.9. Some politicians also took to social media to demand answers on cheating allegations.

Cheating

“We hope the emerging allegations of cheating in the 2022 KCSE are just that…mere allegations. The collapse of the education system is the collapse of a nation,” tweeted Bungoma Senator Boni Khalwale.

Another tweet purported to demonstrate how the Agriculture test was leaked through social media platform Telegram.

 Some examiners also claimed Kiswahili Paper 3 and History was leaked as most candidates had the same answers.

However, Mr Machogu refuted the claims, insisting that the exams were not leaked to favour certain schools in Nyanza.

The CS said Kisii was being unfairly singled out yet some counties had far better grades, although he said the ban on ranking discouraged the release of a comprehensive breakdown.

The CS defended the sterling performance posted by Nyambaria High School and praised its principal, Mr Boaz Owino, as an academic achiever who has made strides in every school he has been posted to.

Propaganda

“If you look at his history, you will appreciate him because wherever he goes, there is a remarkable improvement,” he added. “Let us wait for the 2023 exams and ensure our children work hard. Propaganda will not help us. If today you are number one and tomorrow you are not, it means you must work smart.”

The CS said his ministry enforced a mechanism that minimised leakages and malpractices.

He lauded the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Digital Economy and the Communication Authority, saying, they managed to seal all the loopholes in social media thwarting the tendency of some individuals to post the papers.

He said Kenyans should start focusing on the number of students who will join universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions. Mr Machogu said the more than 30,000 candidates who scored Es should not be condemned. Instead, the CS said, the students should join vocational training centres to gain skills in masonry, carpentry, or tailoring.

His sentiments were echoed by Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) secretary general Akelo Misori and his counterpart in the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Mr Collins Henry Oyuu, and the National Parents Association chairperson Silas Obuhatsa.

“Let us not condemn the Es. Even an E is a grade like any other. Let’s ensure those students are enrolled in vocational institutions. Each child is able differently,” said Mr Oyuu.

Mr Obuhatsa said parents are happy with the results, warning Kenyans against politicising education matters.

“Let us focus on helping all our children,” said Mr Obuhatsa.

At the same time, Mr Machogu denied allegations that the rising number of candidates with C plus and above is designed to reintroduce Module Two degree programmes to boost cash flows for broke universities.

He said the Presidential Working Party Reforms will soon issue an elaborate plan for funding universities, which are currently struggling.

“Module Two used to be a major revenue stream for universities, but when it died, it left the institutions surviving on the exchequer. Many universities are not able to attract adequate funds through research and innovation,” he said.

However, the minister said able parents will pay fees for their students in universities and the state will cater to those that need support. A total of 881,416 candidates sat for the 2022 KCSE exam compared to 826,807 in 2021.

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