Private placement agency eyes over 800,000 that registered for KCSE

Catering students

Catering students during a practical lesson at Rift Valley Institute of Business Studies in Nakuru County.

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The Colleges and Universities Placement Agency will place students to private institutions only.
  • Development has not gone well with the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service.

The registration of a new private placement agency is causing a stir in the higher education sector, which has over the years been dominated by the government.

The Colleges and Universities Placement Agency will place students to private institutions only.

The development appears not to have gone well with the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (Kuccps) which places students in both public and some private universities.

The two agencies will in a few months have the 831,015 candidates registered for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education at their disposal. Last year, over 747,000 students sat the examination.

Of these, about 134,000 students were placed in universities, representing about 18 percent of the total candidacy.

Additionally, 88,000 students (12 percent) were placed in technical and vocational education and training (Tvet) institutions. This means that about 525,000 students (70 percent) missed out on places in government institutions of higher learning.

This year the government faces double the headache as the first batch of KCSE candidates sit their KCSE examinations this month and an expected higher number doing the test at the end of the year. This means that close to two million students will leave secondary school this year, in need of further training.

Places in private universities

Going by previous data, about 1.2 million students stand the risk of missing training opportunities in institutions of higher learning, however, to bridge the gap, the private placement agency has launched a campaign to help students secure places in private universities and colleges in Kenya and abroad.

The agency has also started a sensitisation campaign amongst key stakeholders like secondary school principals, career masters and parents.

Consequently, Kuccps has distanced itself from the activities of the outfit.

“It has come to our attention that an organisation by the name Cupa has been writing to schools and principals inviting them to attend workshops and seminars that fall within the mandate of Kuccps, Kuccps shall not be held liable for any contracts, partnerships and any agreements entered into between them and Cupa,” Kuccps said in a statement.

However, the agency explained that their work does not conflict with that of Kuccps as their focus is only on private institutions.

“We want to provide a bigger solution and supplement what the government is doing. That is why we registered Cupa,” said John Gitau, a director at the agency.

“Kuccps places students in all public and some private universities, but when it comes to placing students to Tvets, Kuccps only focuses on public institutions, that is one gap we want to fill,” added Mr Gitau.

The official observed that the 100 percent transition policy is expected to further increase the number of secondary school leavers.

High cost of varsity education

“In Kenya, we have over 2,000 colleges and universities and more than 10,000 secondary schools. About half of these schools don’t make placement requests to Kuccps. We want to ensure that these students apply for placement,” said Mr Gitau.

He pointed out that more than 7,000 students who qualified to join universities last year never applied for placement, while about 2,600 who were selected to join public universities declined to take up their places.

“This challenge is growing every year with more students completing secondary school education, Cupa aims to address this by engaging all stakeholders,” added Mr Gitau.

He said factors like the high cost of university education for students pursuing courses like medicine, engineering and law push some students to drop them.

At the University of Nairobi, medical students pay about Sh3.8 million for the six-year course, slightly over Sh1million for law, while engineering courses average about Sh2.1 million.

“We want students to seize the opportunities offered by Cupa and pursue such courses abroad at half the cost,” added Mr Gitau, saying that the platform will allow private colleges to share their information about courses, fees structures and intake dates.

The students will also be trained on digital skills and be guided on career and course choices to enable them to make informed decisions based on their performance.

“At CUPA, we guide students in choosing careers they would be happy pursuing,” said Ms Pacy Kihumba, who is in charge of placement at Cupa.

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