Kenya has no data on thousands of Form Four leavers

Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service boss Agnes Mercy Wahome

Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service boss Agnes Mercy Wahome during a past interview. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

There is no data on the transition from secondary school to tertiary level training for more than half of the students who leave Form Four, raising wastage concerns in the education system.

Whereas the government has data on the students who are placed in universities and mid-level colleges, there still remains a huge gap on where hundreds of thousands go after their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations.

There is also no system in place to track the progress of the students who join various universities and colleges and whether they drop out along the way or complete their studies.

The revelation comes as stakeholders in post-secondary education and training raise concerns about the distribution of grades in KCSE, which show that Kenya has a significantly low number of students qualifying for university admission.

According to Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) CEO Agnes Mercy Wahome, there is no centralised data bank on transition for about two-thirds of candidates who sit the KCSE examination but are not placed by the agency.

“The trend has been that we only have data for about a third of those who sit the examinations. We lack centralised data that can help us account for young people so that when talking about young people, we can actually tell where they went,” she said.

She added that about 90 percent of the students placed by the agency in different institutions take up their slots. Additionally, 75 percent of these apply for government student loans.

However, the government does not have a way of identifying those who go for studies abroad, those who join private colleges as well as those who drop out of the education system altogether. There is also no information about the transition of foreigners who sit for KCSE as Kuccps only places Kenyans. This makes it difficult for the government to formulate effective post-secondary education policies.

KUCCPS is now seeking an amendment to the Universities Act (2012) to remove the clause that mandates it to “coordinate the placement of government-sponsored students to universities and colleges” to make it more inclusive and incorporate more post-secondary institutions.

The agency places students in all levels of post-secondary education and training (artisan, craft, diploma and degree). It recently opened the placement and revision window for the 2022 KCSE candidates.

Dr Wahome also called for ways to increase the number of students qualifying for university admission. Of the 869,782 candidates who sat KCSE last year, only 173,127 scored the university minimum entry grade of C+

Her views were supported by Universities Fund CEO Geoffrey Monari, who said that the education reforms going on should look at of reviewing the curriculum and assessment methods to have more students trained at degree and diploma levels.

“We need to relook at these numbers; not just to increase them but to the reasons why they are low. We haven’t reached the threshold. At 19 percent [qualifying for university admission], those left out are quite many. When the same students who score Cs go abroad, they do well. We should have more degrees and diplomas not just for Kenya but to supply the world with human capital,” Mr Monari said. He added that the fund is in the process of developing a higher education information management system.

The National SDG 4 benchmarks: Fulfilling our neglected commitment report by Unesco on the progress made by countries towards their achievement of Sustainable Development Goal Four indicates that close to 35 per cent of Kenyan secondary school learners will not complete upper secondary school by 2030.

Data from the Education ministry also shows that thousands of students fail to join secondary schools each year while others fail to complete school after joining due to various reasons among them teenage pregnancies, death and lack of school fees.

The primary school completion rate appears better than that of secondary school. The number of learners who completed lower secondary (Form 1 and 2) dropped to 87.6 per cent while those who went all the way to Form 4 in 2015 were 47.7 per cent. The government plans to improve this to 57 per cent in 2025 and 64.5 per cent in 2030.