Form One placing painful for some, blissful for others

Kay Koinange

Kay Koinange has been selected to join Alliance High School. He scored 403 in KCPE exams.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Form One selection results announced yesterday drew jubilation from last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam candidates who had secured their preferred schools and protests by those placed in far-flung institutions they never selected.

Interviews yesterday with some of the top performers indicated  that most had landed top schools of their choice but grievances still marred the exercise, with some disgruntled parents vowing not to take their children to schools they weren’t happy about.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu said only 38,972 had been placed in national schools while all 9, 443 candidates who scored 400 marks and above would join national or extra county schools of their choice. 

However, a majority of the 1.2 million learners — 762,610 — were placed in sub-county schools, 199,027 in county schools, 228,160 in extra county schools and 1,819 learners in special needs schools.

The candidates, who are the second last cohort of learners under the 8-4-4 system to be admitted to secondary schools, will report for Form One between February 6 and 13.

The CS said the computerised selection process was strictly guided by the principles of merit, choice, equity and availability of space. Nyeri County’s top candidates from Good Sheperd Academy, Larry Gikonyo (425) and Claire Wanjiru (424) , will join Mang’u High School and Kenya High School respectively.

The top candidate in Mombasa County, Douglas Kilonzo (422), was selected to join Kapsabet High School.  Dorcas Muthethya of Mekaela Academy who scored 419 marks to top the charts in Kwale, was placed in Moi Forces Academy Lanet.

“Since she was the top student in the county, we expected her to go to her dream school. This was her second choice, but we are still grateful,” said Mr Shadrach Kalinga, the school’s education manager. In Lamu, there was jubilation after the students were called to the secondary schools of their choice.

Ngaruiya Peter Mburu, who scored 413 to emerge the best candidate, was selected to join Starehe Boys’ Centre. He sat his exam at Lake Kenyatta, a public primary school in Mpeketoni, Lamu West.

In Taita Taveta, Abdi Mohammed, who scored 410 marks at Mwatate Preparatory, will join Alliance Boys High School.

“I am happy because his brother was in the same school. He sat his KCSE exam last year and we’re waiting for the results,”  said his father, Mr Abdi Ali Aden.

In South Rift, Sweeny Blessed, the top candidate at Moi Primary School, Nakuru, with 420 marks, has been selected to join Kenya High School.

“Being selected to join Alliance Girls is a dream come true for me,” said Tiffany Belsoi, the top candidate at Kagaki School with 418 marks. The top performers in Kajiado’s Lakewood Emerald School, Kitengela, Mumbe Dmitry Kitui, who scored 422, will join Mang’u High School.

In Nandi, Nicole Jepkoech (424) and Cherop Lagat (423) will join Alliance Girls while Nicklaus Kiprotich (422) was picked to join Kapsabet Boys High School.

In Turkana, top candidate Willington Otieno from The Canopy School (414) will join Kapsabet Boys as will the star of West Pokot, Favor Sumba, who scored 423 marks at St. Mary’s Assumption. According to Kapsabet Boys Primary School head Paul Talam, the school had 66 candidates and 30 have been placed in national schools.

At St Moses Primary School in Nanyuki, the top candidate, Brenda Kinya (420) has secured a place at her preferred school, Kenya High School.

The six other candidates who scored 400 marks and above in the same school also got slots at Alliance Girls, Mang’u High and Nairobi School.

However, in Laikipia County, some parents felt short-changed following the outcome of the process and are searching for replacements.

“My daughter scored 372 marks and has been admitted to Moi Girls High School, Marsabit. There is no way I will take her to that school which is very far from here but will instead opt for a local school even if it is a county school,” Ms Catherine Maina told Nation.

Ms Maina, whose daughter was a pupil at St Moses Primary School, Nanyuki, a public school, faces the same dilemma as another parent from the same school.

“My daughter was strangely placed at Moi Marsabit Girls High School. The school is 478 kilometres from Nanyuki and there is no way I will let her go to a place that has security issues,” said Ms Peninah Kithinji, whose child scored 363 marks.

The two parents said the development is very demoralising to the learners.

“My daughter is now questioning the reward of hard work. She is pointing out that her colleagues, who scored below 350 marks, have been placed at reputable local schools, yet for her she could not get an admission to her schools of choice — Chogoria and Karima Girls High schools,” said Ms Kithinji. Similar complaints were registered in the North Rift region.

In Uasin Gishu County, some parents claimed the Form One selection was skewed as it did not match their children’s top marks and desired high schools.

Mr Zachariah Ochieng complained his son who scored 391 marks was selected to join Lodwar High School in Turkana County, which was not his choice.

“Some of us are not happy with the results. My fear is about the distance and security issues,” said Mr Ochieng.

In Nandi County, some parents protested that their children were admitted to schools they did not choose and demanded that the Ministry of Education rectifies the matter.

At Bishop Alexander Muge Primary School in Mosop Constituency where 44 pupils scored over 400 marks, parents protested that 20 among the top performers were admitted to schools in Turkana and other counties that they never selected.

Protesting parents, led by Mr Joseph Sang, questioned why 113 candidates from the leading school in Nandi County were never selected to schools of their choice.

The special needs education candidates were also placed in the regular schools of their preference, while others were placed in special schools based on their disability categories on merit and choice. The scramble for top schools was also evident in the choices by the candidates.

Kabianga High School was selected by 153,074 but has a learner capacity of 768. Nanyuki High School, Nyandarua High School, Pangani Girls, Maseno School, Alliance Girls and Nakuru High School were each preferred by over 100,000 candidates but have less than 1,000 spaces available.

“You cannot stop people from choosing but, going forward, it will be wise to get some guidance from county and sub-county education directors. There are many factors that determine success aside from the choice of school,” Mr Machogu said.

He also noted that more than 30,000 learners had not selected any secondary schools but had still been placed.

“[There were] 33,984 students from 2,673 schools [who] did not select any school. I have directed county directors of education to establish the concerned schools with a view of instituting administrative actions against the head teachers or schools,” he said.

Mr Machogu added that the Ministry of Education has applied affirmative action to achieve equity for children from informal settlements. In this year’s selection, 270 such learners were placed in national and extra-county schools of their choice.

Some 14 counties were identified as having limited capacity of accommodating learners. Nairobi, with 109 secondary schools, has the largest deficit. The schools can host a learner capacity of 27,145 but had 72,232 KCPE candidates, which results to a deficit of 45,087.

Kilifi has a deficit of 10,212 and Mombasa 9,559. Other counties with limited capacities are Kitui, West Pokot, Baringo, Kajiado, Turkana, Lamu, Garissa, West Pokot, Narok, Kwale and Tana River.

Mr Machogu maintained that the public secondary school fees for the 2023 academic calendar year are capped at Sh53,554 for national and Sh40,555 for county and extra-county schools.

He said that capitation per student in all public day secondary schools is Sh22,244 and directed principals not to charge parents in those schools any fees.

He added the ministry is committed to ensuring that parents and guardians with learners joining Form One are not overburdened with unnecessary requirements. He asked them to report any illegal levies charged to county education offices.

“Principals should exercise caution while listing the requirements so that the cost of education is reduced as much as possible,” he said.

The CS further said that more support will be given to public day secondary schools because they make up 70 per cent of all schools. He called on boarding schools to consider coming up with day sections to increase the capacity schools can hold.

“This is also in line with CBC requirements for parental engagement in delivery of the curriculum,” he said. He said the ministry will use the Nemis platform for effective management and monitoring of learners. Principals will be required to file accurate daily returns on the status of reporting to schools.

“The ministry has developed an innovative offline admission application for principals which can be accessed through mobile phones,” he said.

Reporting by Esther Nyandoro, Mwangi Ndirangu, Siago Cece, Kalume Kazungu, Lucy Mkanyika, Winnie Atieno, Eric Matara, Geoffrey Ondieki, Vitalis Kimutai, Joseph Openda, Macharia Mwangi, Mwangi Muiruri, Fred Kibor, Stanley Kimuge, Tom Matoke, Oscar Kakai, and Sammy Lutta and Irene Isagale