Experts blame mass failure in KCSE exam on crowding

George Magoha and Nancy Macharia

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha with Teachers Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia during the release of the 2021 KCSE results on April 23. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Ministry of Education has been asked to address infrastructure and congestion challenges in secondary schools.

The problems are blamed for poor performance of students in national examinations witnessed in the last four years.

The Regional Education Learning Initiative (Reli), a peer learning and policy influencing network comprising 70 educational organisations in East Africa, said the increase in poor performance in KCSE exam is worrying.

 Last year, more than half of the students scored a D+ in the exams. Mr Samuel Otieno, Reli’s country lead of the consortium, said there is lack of adequate space and infrastructure in many institutions, with most of the girls schools less equipped with biology, physics and chemistry laboratories as compared to those for boys.

He further noted that acute shortage of teachers in secondary schools is a major challenge and a contributor to poor performance of students.

There is approximately a shortage of over 100,000 teachers in both primary and secondary schools in Kenya

“Expand the infrastructure urgently in most schools. School heads can be innovative to use temporary structures as classrooms and dormitories, where possible,”  Mr Otieno told the Sunday Nation.

According to the organisation, performance of students is a product of socio economic, psychological and environmental factors. “Track schools and regions that consistently underperform to determine the factors behind the poor results and institute remedial measures.

In particular, ensure adequate support for public schools, which serve a greater share of learners from marginalised and disadvantaged communities including learners with disabilities and learners from poor communities,” he said.

In the 2021 KCSE exams, 495,686 students (60 per cent) scored D+ and below. Of these, 46,159 (5.5 per cent) scored grade E. Some 826,807 candidates sat for the exams.

Mr Otieno said the trend in the past four years is that 67 per cent of the total candidature score D+ and below.

Reli has asked the government to ensure equality in placement of Form Ones and posting of teachers to schools.

Mr Otieno said trends show that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) posts most teachers to national and extra county secondary schools leaving the rest with acute shortage. He said this  is despite 75 per cent of learners being in day schools.

Dr Benta Abuya, a scientist at the Africa Population Health Research Centre (APHRC), said despite Education CS George Magoha informing the country that in 2021, the transition rate from primary to secondary school was 98 per cent, the most Economic Survey Report (2022) said the primary to secondary transition rate had declined from 91 per cent in 2020 to 78.5 per cent in 2021.

“There is an anticipated admission crisis as 10,000 secondary schools will receive 1.2 million candidates who sat the 2021 KCPE examinations,” she said

Dr Abuya said the government should direct all resources towards addressing the Form One admission crisis.

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