Agnes Mercy Wahome
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More than 500,000 KCSE learners not placed in colleges

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The Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) Chief Executive Officer Agnes Mercy Wahome during the release of the placement report for the KCSE 2023 candidates in Nairobi on May 21, 2024. 

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

More than 500,000 students who sat the 2023 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination have not been placed in tertiary institutions, dealing a severe blow to the 100 per cent transition policy championed by the government.

In results released by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) on Tuesday, just 258,935 students out of the 890,654 eligible for degree, diploma, craft certificate and artisan certificate programmes have been placed.

The government does not have a centralised database to track post-secondary education transition, making it difficult to account for the 631,719 learners not captured by KUCCPS.

Some students opt to apply directly to private universities or colleges while others follow non-academic routes.

The low placement numbers point to wastage in the country’s education system.

While 899,232 candidates’ results were presented to KUCCPS for placement, the cumulative approved capacities in public and private institutions is 1,078,806.

This comprises 278,006 in universities (degree), a total of 769,820 in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutes, some 13,808 in teacher training colleges (TTCs) and 17,172 in the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC).

A total of 47,872 students who attained mean grade of C+ and above in the tests never chose degree courses.

More interesting is that 11,991 who qualified for university degree programmes opted for diploma courses while 35,881 qualifiers are unaccounted for.

Eighty-five per cent of those who qualified for degree programmes opted to join university, accounting for 76.2 per cent of the 201,146, while the remaining 11,991 applied for diploma courses.

Bachelor of Education attracted the highest number of applicants.

903,138 students

A total of 903,138 students registered for 2023 KCSE and 899,453 sat the tests.

The Kenya National Examinations Council provided performance data of 895,232 candidates to KUCCPS for processing.

KUCCPS Chief Executive Agnes Mercy Wahome, said males dominate placement to degree programmes, sustaining a trend observed since the beginning of the central placement system a decade ago.

“Female students make up the majority of those placed in TVET programmes, from the 2020/21 cycle to date,” Dr Wahome said.

The cut-off grade for degree programmes was C+ (46 points out of a possible 84), C- (minus) for diploma, D Plain for craft certificate and E for artisan certificate.

KUCCPS said it made available courses offered at 70 universities, 35 TTCs, 88 KMTC campuses and 248 public TVET institutes.

According to the placement agency, public and private universities remain under-enrolled for many programmes.

Universities have a cumulative capacity of 278,006 students for undergraduate degree programmes but only 153,274 were placed out of the 201,146 who qualified for admission or 55 per cent.

Competition for KMTC courses has intensified. KUCCPS said 56,516 candidates applied for admission to the medical courses.

“However, only 19,653 were placed as per available slots,” the agency said.

KMTC campuses have a cumulative capacity of 17,172 trainees. There was an over-enrolment of 2,481 students.

Additionally, some 199,980 learners have been placed in diploma courses, with those who scored mean grades of D+ and D- (280,174) being taken to certificate programmes while those who had D- and E (213,932) will train for artisan courses.

A total of 75,718 applicants secured places in TVET institutes, including the 11,991 who qualified for degree programmes.

Degree cluster

KUCCPS said the degree cluster weight calculation was aligned with the revised KCSE examination grading system where mathematics, best language (English, Kiswahili or Kenya Sign Language) and best five from the remaining subjects sat by the candidate were graded.

This is a deviation from the previous criterion that graded English, mathematics, Kiswahili, best two sciences (biology, chemistry and physics) and best two from the remaining subjects sat by the candidate.

KUCCPS opened its system for placement application and revision of choices on February 7 and closed on March 4.

The government has over the years been struggling to address the problem of low transition.

Close to a million learners had dropped out of the education system in 2022 alone.

Political, religious, other leaders and education stakeholders expressed fear that the new system of funding for those joining university or college could see more students fall through the cracks.

This was despite government efforts to achieve 100 per cent transition across the several exit points of education, continuing the ritual of students not completing studies.

Last year, the government said it could not account for more than 500,000 students who sat the 2022 KCSE examination after they failed to apply for admission to university, college or TVET institutes.